Pittsburgh Foster Care Lawyer
If you do not have an active case with CPS, we unfortunately cannot help and kindly request you do not call our law offices.
Foster care is a system in which children are placed in temporary living situations where they are cared for by willing and fit adults. This happens when state authorities have determined that you or another biological or legal parent is unable, unfit, or unwilling to care for their children. Foster care is not intended to be a long-term arrangement or solution, rather its purpose is to provide for your kids while social services works on reunification with you, placement with relatives, a legal guardian, or adoption.
If you have had children placed in foster care, you need to be aware of your rights. Understanding your parental rights and responsibility during this time enables you to maintain a strong relationship with your kids and have them come home as soon as possible.
At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we represent parents dealing with Child Protect Services (CPS) investigations and foster care situations. If you need legal advice in these difficult times, call us at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a confidential consultation.
When a Child May be Placed in Foster Care
Children can be placed into foster care in a number of different ways. One way is if admit you are currently unable or unwilling to care for your kids. By working with CPS, children may be placed into a temporary home while you work on developing a better living situation, improving your mental or physical health, and ultimately reuniting with them. There are also circumstances in which a child is removed from the home because they are too violent toward the parents or siblings.
However, foster care placement is not usually your choice. More often than not, children are placed in foster care by the state during or following a CPS investigation. Under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, CPS has a duty to immediately investigate credible allegations of child abuse and neglect. Children can be removed from the home immediately or very quickly for only a few reasons, including if the police believe the kids are in imminent danger. Unless there is another family member who is willing to take on temporary guardianship, then your children will go to foster care. The kids may stay in the foster system throughout the duration of the CPS investigation or longer, depending on the outcome.
A CPS investigation may determine allegations of abuse or neglect were founded, requiring the removal of your children from the home. If CPS believes the situation can be improved, your children may stay in foster care while you complete alcohol or drug addiction treatment, complete parenting or anger management classes, undergo therapy, and work to improve the overall living situation. You may have one year to show improvement and have your children returned to you. However, if the abuse or neglect was extreme, the state may take you to court to terminate your parent rights. Once parental rights are terminated, your child could remain in foster care until adopted or another family member or adult is willing to become a legal guardian.
Fighting a Foster Care Placement
As a parent, foster care may be the last thing you want for your kids. It is understandable you want to keep them at home with you. At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we are here to help you fight against your child’s removal. However, if it is not possible to avoid such a removal, we can ask for the next best thing. We can strive to keep your child within the family. We may work with your children’s grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling, or cousin to become their temporary legal guardian. If an adult relative is not able or willing to take on parental responsibilities, then we may ask a close family friend.
Your Rights as a Parent
The rights you have as a parent with children in the foster care system depends on the situation. If parental rights have not been terminated, then you can appeal your children’s removal from the home, seek to regain custody, and ask for visitation. You also retain your right to review and approve of your child’s placement education, medical treatment, and more.
While your children are in foster care, the law requires that you get visits unless a judge has ordered that no visits are allowed based on the best interests of the child. You can see your child at least once every week. You will need to work with your lawyer and your CPS caseworker to arrange these visits, including the time and dates, transportation, and whether they will be supervised or not. Keeping up with your visitation is important as it will reflect on whether or not you should get custody of your children back.
In addition to in-person visits with your kids, you should be able to speak with them regularly on the phone. While they may not be able to use the phone at all times, their foster parents should give them consistent opportunities to talk with you.
However, if your children were removed and CPS determined that allegations of abuse or neglect were valid, the state may ask the court to terminate your parental rights. If your parental rights are involuntarily terminated, you will not have the right to see your child or make any decisions for them. This also means that you will not be able to regain custody.
Contact Our Pittsburgh Domestic Attorneys for Help
You have every right to defend yourself during a CPS investigation and to fight to keep your children out of foster care. As a parent, you know what is best for your children and you have every right to fight to keep them with you. At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we are happy to fight for you in court. Our Pittsburgh domestic attorneys are experienced in child matters and in working with CPS to protect your parental rights, keep your children safe, and reunite your family as soon as possible.
Call us today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help yo