What is a Dependency?
Any interested party may file a petition to commence proceedings in the juvenile court alleging that a child is dependent (A.R.S. § 8-841). The Department of Child Safety may remove a child from the custody of his/her parent by consent of the parent/guardian, through a court authorized removal issued by the Superior Court of Arizona that finds probable cause for the removal, or by exigent circumstances (A.R.S. § 8-821). The Department of Child Safety is required to file a petition within 72 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) or return the child to the parent/guardian.
Once a petition is filed with the Court, the Court must hold a Preliminary Protective Conference and Hearing (PPC/PPH) within 5 to 7 business days of the removal or an Initial Dependency Hearing (IDH) within 21 days if there was no removal (in-home dependency, in-home intervention, private dependency, etc.).
Once a dependency proceeding begins, each parent/guardian has a right to contest the dependency through a Dependency Adjudication Hearing. The parent/guardian may plead no contest to the matter of the dependency or may be held in default if they fail to appear for the proceedings. The Judicial Officer will make dependency findings for each parent and proceed to disposition and determining the case plan.
A Report & Review Hearing (R&R) is required to occur at least every 6 months throughout the life of the case, though they may be scheduled more frequently depending on the circumstances of the case. A Permanency Hearing (Perm) is required for every child who has been removed from their parent's care. For children under the age of 3 at the time of filing, the hearing must be completed within 180 calendar days after removal. For children ages 3 and older at the time of filing, the hearing must be completed within 365 days after removal. Permanency Hearings are set at the time of case initiation to ensure the hearings are set timely. At the Permanency Hearing, the Judicial Officer will determine a permanent plan for the child.
A dependency can end for one of the following reasons:
- No findings could not be made by a preponderance of the evidence
- Returned home and is now safe
- Never removed from the home and is now safe (in-home)
- Adopted after a severance
- Placed into a Title 8 permanent guardianship
- Turned 18 and jurisdiction was lost