Shelter Care
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Shelter Care: The Basics
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When an agency requests an ex-parte order from the court (i.e. without a court hearing) granting them emergency shelter care of a child, oral or written notice must be given to the child and to the child’s parents (if their whereabouts are known). The parents must be notified that a case plan will be prepared for a child, as well as what the general requirements of the case plan will be. The agency must also let the parents know that failure to comply with the requirements of the case plan could result in serious long-term consequences, including permanent removal of the child from their home.

In most jurisdictions, a shelter care hearing must be held within 72 hours of the child’s removal from his or her home. Prior to such a hearing, the parents must be informed of their right to counsel, and their right to have court-appointed counsel should they not be able to afford one. At the shelter care hearing, the court will hear evidence to determine whether or not the circumstances are such that the child should remain in shelter care until a final court order is made based on the complaint filed by Children Services.

When a child is alleged to have been abused, neglected, or dependent, he or she may be held in a certified foster home throughout the pendency of the proceedings. The foster home is the "shelter" that the child is placed in to receive the appropriate care necessary for the welfare of the child.

Next, let’s take a look at the standard for continued emergency shelter care.

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