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What does the Juvenile Dependency Court do?
Juvenile Dependency cases begin when a petition is filed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) under Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 300. This petition will allege that there is actual or immediate danger to a child. If the safety of the child cannot be assured at home, the child can be removed from the parents' custody and placed in protective custody. The court responds to the different types of petitions that can be filed during a Juvenile Dependency case.

Petition Type Filed by Reason for Petition
300 Department of Children and Family Services alleges that there is actual or immediate danger to the child
342 Department of Children and Family Services Alleges new facts or circumstances other than those under the original petition
387 Department of Children and Family Services Filed to change or modify a previous order by seeking to remove a child from physical custody of a parent, guardian, relative, or friend and directing placement in a foster home or commitment to a private or county institution
388
  • A parent
  • A person with an interest in the child
  • A guardian appointed for the child
Filed to state facts that would support any change of circumstance or new evidence that would require a change of a previous order or termination of Jurisdiction

Following the filing of a WIC 300 petition and the detention/arraignment hearing, the Court conducts additional hearings to determine whether the allegations are true, and if true, whether Dependency Court jurisdiction is necessary.

For the complete California Welfare and Institutions Code, go to the Official California Legislative Information website.

Child abuse and neglect cases often involve traumatic situations for children and other family members. Contested hearings add further stress to the participants and place the children and their parents in adversarial positions. Early resolution of these cases in mediation can serve to:
  • Reduce stress to children and their families
  • Allow for effective case management
  • Provide significant savings of time and money
  • Preserve the court’s authority to protect children
For more information about Juvenile Dependency Court Mediation, go to Mediation Services Q & A section.

Juvenile Court Mental Health Services supports mental health care for children under the court’s jurisdiction. It works with other agencies to develop the plans needed to provide mental health support to children under the court’s jurisdiction and help court personnel get necessary information to provide needed services.

For more information about Juvenile Court Mental Health Services, go to Juvenile Dependency Mental Health Services Q & A section.
Juvenile Dependency Basics
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