The problems of abused and neglected children are epidemic in our society (U.S.
Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect (ABCAN), 1995) and create
issues that psychologists may be called upon to address. According to the U.S.
Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect (ABCAN), conservative estimates
indicate that almost two thousand infants and young children die from abuse and
neglect by parents or caretakers each year, or five children every day.
McClain's research at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
suggests that abuse and neglect kills 5.4 out of every 100,000 children age
four and under (McClain
et al., 1993;
According to ABCAN, fatalities are not the entire story. There are tens of
thousands of victims overwhelmed by lifelong psychological trauma, thousands of
traumatized siblings and family members and thousands of near-death survivors
who, as adults, continue to bear physical and psychological scars. Each year,
18,000 children are left permanently disabled
(Baladerian, 1991). Some may turn to crime or domestic violence or
become abusers themselves (ABCAN,
When a child is at risk for harm, psychologists may become involved.
Psychologists are in a position to make significant contributions to child
welfare decisions. Psychological data and expertise may provide additional
sources of information and a perspective not otherwise readily available to the
court regarding the functioning of parties, and thus may increase the fairness
of the determination by the court, state agency or other party.
As the complexity of psychological practice increases and the reciprocal
involvement between psychologists and the public broadens, the need for
guidelines to educate the profession, the public and the other interested
parties regarding desirable professional practice in child protection matters
has expanded and will probably continue to expand in the foreseeable future.
Although psychologists may assume various roles and responsibilities in such
proceedings, the following guidelines were developed primarily for
psychologists conducting psychological evaluations in child protection matters.2
These guidelines build upon the American Psychological Association's
Ethical Principals of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA,
and are aspirational in intent. The term "guidelines" refers to pronouncements,
statements, or declarations that suggest or recommend specific professional
behavior, endeavor, or conduct for psychologists (APA, 1992a). Guidelines
differ from standards in that standards are mandatory and may be accompanied by
an enforcement mechanism
Thus, as guidelines, they are not intended to be either mandatory or exhaustive
and may not always be applicable to legal matters. Their aspirational intent is
to facilitate the continued systematic development of the profession and help
to assure a high level of professional practice by psychologists. These
guidelines should not be construed as definitive or intended to take precedence
over the judgement of psychologists. The specific goal of the guidelines is to
promote proficiency in using psychological expertise in conducting
psychological evaluations in child protection matters.
enjoy important civil and constitutional rights regarding the care for their
children. A child has a fundamental interest in being protected from abuse and
neglect. Child protection laws attempt to strike a balance between these
interests. Under the concept of
parens patriae, all states have the right to intervene in cases where a
child is at risk for harm. State interventions most commonly occur in three
stages. In the first stage, following a report of suspected child abuse and
an investigation occurs. In the second stage, if the findings of the
investigation stage indicate the child is at sufficient risk for harm, the
state may assume care and/or custody of the child and may make recommendations
for rehabilitation of the parents. The third stage may occur if such
rehabilitative conditions have failed to create a safe environment for the
child's return to the parent(s), or if the child has been returned
unsuccessfully. At this point the state may request a hearing for a final
disposition. The final dispositional stage may result in involuntary
termination of parental rights. Such a disposition typically requires not only
a finding of abuse and/or neglect by the parent(s), but also a finding that
various rehabilitative efforts with the parent(s) have failed. Psychologists
are aware that the most extreme disposition--termination of parental
rights--has a finality requiring both due process protection and a higher
standard of proof6
than may be used in other child protection matters.
Jurisdictions have statutory or case law requirements that diligent efforts must
be made to rehabilitate the parent(s) and reunite the child with his/her
parent(s). Typically, these requirements must be met prior to a disposition of
parental termination. Different states may have different statutory or case law
requirements. In conducting an evaluation, psychologists should be familiar
with applicable law.7
During any of the above-mentioned stages, psychologists may be asked to evaluate
different parties for different purposes. Psychologists may act as agents of
the court, the child protection agency, or may be directly retained by the
parent(s). Psychologists may also be retained by a
guardian ad litem if one has been appointed to represent the
As evaluators in child protection cases, psychologists are frequently asked to
address such questions as:
1. How seriously has the child's psychological well-being been affected?
2. What therapeutic interventions would be recommended to assist the child?
3. Can the parent(s) be successfully treated to prevent harm to the child in the
future? If so, how? If not, why not?
4. What would be the psychological effect upon the child if returned to the
5. What would be the psychological effect upon the child if separated from the
parents or if parental rights are terminated?
In the course of their evaluations, and depending upon the specific needs of a
given case, psychologists may wish to evaluate the parent(s) and/or the child
individually or together. Psychologists may wish to gather information on
family history, assess relevant personality functioning, assess developmental
needs of the child, explore the nature and quality of the parent-child
relationship and assess evidence of trauma. Psychologists are encouraged to
consider specific risk factors such as substance abuse or chemical dependency,
domestic violence, financial circumstance, health status of family members and
the entire family context. Psychologists may wish to review information from
other sources including an assessment of cultural, educational, religious and
Particular competencies and knowledge are necessary when performing
psychological evaluations in child protection matters so that adequate and
appropriate psychological services can be provided to the court, state agencies
or other parties. For example, in cases involving physical disability, such as
hearing impairments, orthopedic handicaps, etc., psychologists strive to seek
consultation from experts in these areas. Particular attention should also be
given to other aspects of human diversity such as, but not limited to, ethnic
minority status, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.
Conducting psychological evaluations in child protection matters can be a
demanding and stressful task. The demand of such evaluations can become
heightened because the issues involved may include child abuse, neglect and/or
family violence. Psychologists are alert to these personal stressors, and when
appropriate, undertake relevant study, training, supervision and/ or
Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection
I. Orienting Guidelines
1. The primary purpose of the evaluation is to provide relevant, professionally
sound results or opinions, in matters where a child's health and welfare may
have been and/or may in the future be harmed
. The specific purposes of the evaluation will be determined by the
nature of the child protection matter. In investigative proceedings, a primary
purpose of the evaluation is to assist in determining whether the child's
health and welfare may have been harmed. When the child is already identified
as being at risk for harm, the evaluation often focuses on rehabilitation
recommendations, designed to protect the child and help the family. An
additional purpose of such an evaluation may be to make recommendations for
interventions that promote the psychological and physical well-being of the
child, and if appropriate, facilitate the reunification of the family.
Psychologists appreciate the value of expediting family reunification when safe
In proceedings involving termination of parental rights, the primary purpose of
the evaluation is to assess not only abuse or neglect by the parent(s), but
also whether rehabilitation efforts for and by the parent(s) have succeeded in
creating a safe environment for the child's return.
2. In child protection cases, the child's interest and well-being are paramount
. In these cases, the state is intervening in the family based on the
concern that the child's needs at that time are not being served by the family,
resulting in the child's psychological or physical harm. Thus, the child's
interest and well-being are paramount. In proceedings where involuntary
termination of parental rights is being considered, there is an additional
focus: whether the parents have been or can be successfully rehabilitated.
3. The evaluation addresses the particular psychological and developmental needs
of the child and/or parent(s) that are relevant to child protection issues such
as physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and/or serious emotional harm
. In considering psychological factors affecting the health and welfare
of the child, psychologists may focus on parental capacities in conjunction
with the psychological and developmental needs of the child. This may involve
an assessment of:
(a) the adult's capacities for parenting, including those attributes, skills and
abilities most relevant to abuse and/or neglect concerns;
(b) the psychological functioning and developmental needs of the child,
particularly with regard to vulnerabilities and special needs of the child as
well as the strength of the child's attachment to the parent(s) and the
possible detrimental effects of separation from the parent(s);
(c) the current and potential functional abilities of the parent(s) to meet the
needs of the child, including an evaluation of the relationship between the
child and the parent(s);
(d) the need for and likelihood of success of clinical interventions for
observed problems, which may include recommendations regarding treatment focus,
frequency of sessions, specialized kinds of intervention, parent education and
II. General Guidelines: Preparing for a Child Protection Evaluation
4. The role of psychologists conducting evaluations is that of professional
expert who strives to maintain an unbiased, objective stance
. In performing protection evaluations, psychologists do not act as
judges, who make the ultimate decision by applying the law to all relevant
evidence, or as advocating attorneys for any particular party. Whether retained
by the court, the child protection agency, the parent(s) or the guardian ad
litem for the child, psychologists should strive to be objective.
Psychologists rely on scientifically and professionally derived knowledge when
making judgements and describe fairly the bases for their testimonies and
conclusions. If psychologists cannot accept this unbiased objective stance,
they should consider withdrawing from the case. If not permitted to withdraw,
psychologists disclose factors that may bias their findings and/ or compromise
5. The serious consequences of psychological assessment in child protection
matters place a heavy burden on psychologists
. Because psychologists' professional judgements have great potential
to affect the lives of others, psychologists are alert to guard against factors
that might lead to misuse of their findings. For example, in an initial
dispositional hearing, psychologists' findings may be used to separate the
child from her/his parent(s). In a final dispositional hearing, the
psychologists' findings may be a factor in the decision to terminate parental
rights. The gravity and potential permanence of this consequence underscore the
importance for psychologists to reasonably insure the objectivity of the
assessment procedure and findings.
6. Psychologists gain specialized competence
A. Psychologists who conduct evaluations in child protection matters are aware
that special competencies and knowledge may be necessary for the undertaking of
such evaluations. Competence in performing psychological assessments of
children, adults and families is necessary but not sufficient. Education,
training, experience and/or supervision in the areas of forensic practice,
child and family development, child and family psychopathology, the impact of
separation on the child, the nature of various types of child abuse and the
role of human differences.8
may help to prepare psychologists to participate competently in psychological
evaluations in child protection matters.
B. Psychologists make reasonable effort to use current knowledge of scholarly
and professional developments, consistent with generally accepted clinical and
scientific practice, in selecting evaluation methods and procedures. The
Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (APA, 1985) are
adhered to in the use of psychological tests and other assessment tools.
C. Psychologists also strive to become familiar with applicable legal and
regulatory standards and procedures, including state and Federal laws governing
child protection issues. These may include laws and regulations addressing
child abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights.
7. Psychologists are aware of personal and societal biases and engage in
. Psychologists engaging in psychological evaluations in child
protection matters are aware of how biases regarding age, gender, race,
ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language,
culture and socioeconomic status may interfere with an objective evaluation and
recommendations. Psychologists recognize and strive to overcome any such biases
or withdraw from the evaluation. When interpreting evaluation results,
psychologists strive to be aware that there are diverse cultural and community
methods of child rearing, and consider these in the context of the existing
state and Federal.9
laws. Also, psychologists should use, whenever available, tests and norms based
on populations similar to those evaluated.
8. Psychologists avoid multiple relationships
. In conducting psychological evaluations in child protective matters,
psychologists are aware that there may be a need to avoid confusion about role
boundaries. Psychologists generally do not conduct psychological evaluations in
child protection matters in which they serve in a therapeutic role for the
child or the immediate family or have had other involvement that may compromise
their objectivity. This does not, however, preclude psychologists from
testifying in cases as fact or expert witnesses concerning therapeutic
treatment of the children, parents or families. In addition, during the course
of a psychological evaluation in child protection matters, psychologists do not
accept any of the participants involved in the evaluation as therapy clients.
Therapeutic contact with the child or involved participants following a child
protection evaluation is discouraged and when done, is undertaken with
Psychologists asked to testify regarding a therapy client who is involved in a
child protection case are aware of the limitations and possible biases inherent
in such a role and the possible impact on ongoing therapeutic relationships.
Although the court may order psychologists to testify as fact or expert
witnesses regarding information they became aware of in a professional
relationship with a client, psychologists must appreciate the difference in
roles and methods between being psychotherapists and being child protection
III. Procedural Guidelines: Conducting a Psychological Evaluation in Child
In child protection matters, there are many different situations representing a
wide variety of legal and/or ethical considerations. The appropriate procedure
in one case may not be appropriate in another. Psychologists should be alert to
applicable laws which govern the evaluation, as well as applicable sections of
the Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Psychologists,
particularly those sections dealing with confidentiality. In addition,
psychologists appreciate the need for timeliness in child protection matters
(e.g., response to evaluation referral, scheduling appointments, completion of
9. Based on the nature of the referral questions, the scope of the evaluation is
determined by the evaluator
. The scope of the protection-related evaluation is determined by the
nature of the questions or issues raised by the referring agency, person or
court, or is inherent in the situation. In child protection matters,
psychologists are frequently asked to address parenting deficits. Consequently,
psychologists are often asked to propose a rehabilitation plan for the
parent(s) or to discuss why prior rehabilitation attempts have failed. The
scope and methods of the assessment should be based upon consideration of the
referral questions and the appropriate methods by which to evaluate them.
Sometimes the evaluation is limited to one parent without attempting to compare
the parents. Likewise, the scope may be limited to evaluating the child. At
other times, psychologists may be asked to critique the assumptions and
methodology of another mental health professional's assessment. Psychologists
may also identify relevant issues not anticipated in the referral questions
that could enlarge the scope of the evaluation. Also, psychologists might serve
as pure expert witnesses in such areas as child development or social
psychology, providing expertise to the court without relating it specifically
to the parties involved in a particular case.
10. Psychologists performing psychological evaluations in child protection
matters obtain appropriate informed consent from all adult participants, and as
appropriate, inform the child participant. Psychologists need to be
particularly sensitive to informed consent issues
. Psychological evaluations in child protection matters are often
performed at the request of an agency, by order of a court or at the request of
another individual, such as an attorney. Due to the nature of child protection
matters, the complexity of the legal issues involved and the potential serious
consequences of the evaluation, psychologists need to be particularly sensitive
to informed consent issues. Efforts toward obtaining informed consent should
make clear to the participant the nature of the evaluation, its purpose, to
whom the results will be provided and the role of the psychologist in relation
to the referring party (see APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of
Conduct, Standards 1.21 and 1.216 re: third party request for
services). This information should be provided in language understandable to
Because participants in this type of evaluation may feel compelled to cooperate,
psychologists should attempt to obtain confirmation of the participants'
understanding of and agreement to the evaluation, including its purposes and
its implications, prior to the initiation of the evaluation. The Ethical
Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct requires
appropriate informed consent and many state laws require written consent.
Should there be refusal to give consent, it may be advisable to refer the
individual back to his/her own attorney or seek the guidance of the court or
referring agency before proceeding. The purpose of the evaluation, the results
and where and to whom the results are distributed are all determined by the
individual characteristics of the case as well as by legal requirements and
The Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct suggests
that psychologists provide information to the child as appropriate, to the
extent that the child is able to understand. Psychologists explain to the child
the nature of the evaluation procedures. Psychologists attempt to make it clear
to the child that his/her safety is the primary interest and because of that
interest, the information will be shared with others. Psychologists allow time
for questions by the child and answer them in a developmentally and culturally
11. Psychologists inform participants about the disclosure of information and the
limits of confidentiality
. Psychologists conducting a psychological evaluation in child
protection matters ensure that the participants, including the child (to the
extent feasible), are aware of the limits of confidentiality for the evaluation
results. Psychologists recognize that evaluation results could be sought by a
child protection investigation agency, the court, a guardian ad litem for
the child or an attorney for either parent. When an evaluation is
court-ordered, there may be special considerations regarding the limits of
confidentiality and the disclosure of information. In such cases, psychologists
will seek to reconcile the APA ethical standards with fulfilling the demands of
the court. A clear explanation of the nature of the evaluation and to whom it
will be released takes place.
12. Psychologists use multiple methods of data gathering
. Psychologists strive to use the most appropriate methods available
for addressing the questions raised in a specific child protection evaluation.
Psychologists generally use multiple methods of data gathering, including but
not limited to, clinical interviews, observation and/or psychological testing
that are sufficient to provide appropriate substantiation for their findings.
Psychologists may review relevant reports (e.g. from child protection agencies,
social service providers, law enforcement agencies, health care providers,
child care providers, schools and institutions). In evaluating parental
capacity to care for a particular child or the child-parent interaction,
psychologists make efforts to observe the child together with the parent and
recognize the value of these observations occurring in natural settings. This
may not always be possible, for example, in cases where the safety of the child
is in jeopardy or parental contact with the child has been prohibited by the
court. Psychologists may also attempt to interview extended family members and
other individuals when appropriate (e.g., caretakers, grandparents and
teachers). If information gathered from a third party is used as a basis for
conclusions, psychologists attempt to corroborate it from at least one other
source wherever possible. The corroboration should be documented in the
13. Psychologists neither over-interpret nor inappropriately interpret clinical
or assessment data.
Psychologists refrain from drawing conclusions not adequately supported by
the data. Psychologists interpret any data from interviews or tests cautiously
and conservatively, strive to be knowledgeable about cultural norms and present
findings in a form understandable to the recipient. Psychologists strive to
acknowledge to the court any limitations in methods or data used. In addition,
psychologists are aware that in compelled evaluations the situation may lend
itself to defensiveness by the participant, given the potentially serious
consequences of an adverse finding. Consequently, the situational determinants
should be borne in mind when interpreting test findings.
14 . Psychologists conducting a psychological evaluation in child protection
matters provide an opinion regarding the psychological functioning of an
individual only after conducting an evaluation of the individual adequate to
support their statements or conclusions.
This guideline does not preclude psychologists from reporting what an
individual has stated or from addressing theoretical issues or hypothetical
questions, so long as any limitations of the basis of such information are
noted. When, despite reasonable effort, a personal evaluation of an individual
is not feasible, psychologists report this and appropriately limit the nature
and extent of their conclusions or recommendations.
15. Recommendations, if offered, are based on whether the child's health and
welfare have been and/or may be seriously harmed
. When conducting a psychological evaluation in child protection
matters, psychologists may choose to make a variety of recommendations,
including but not limited to, psychological treatment for the child,
psychological treatment for the parent(s), and/or suggestions for parental
rehabilitation that would help create a safe environment for the child.
If recommendations are made, the primary focus must be the child's health and
welfare. Recommendations are based on sound psychological data, such as
clinical data, interpretations and inferences founded on generally accepted
psychological theory and practice. Particular attention may be given to
outcomes research on interventions with abusive families. Psychologists strive
to disclose relevant information and clinical data pertaining to the issues
being evaluated while maintaining an awareness of the limitations in predicting
future violent behavior. They also explain the reasoning behind their
The profession has not reached consensus about whether making dispositional
recommendations in child protection evaluations is within the purview of
psychological practice. However, if psychologists choose to make dispositional
recommendations, the recommendations should be derived from sound psychological
data and must be based on considerations of the child's health and welfare in
the particular case.
16. Psychologists clarify financial arrangements
. Financial arrangements are clarified and agreed upon prior to
conducting a child protection evaluation. When billing for an evaluation,
psychologists accurately describe the services provided for reimbursement
17. Psychologists maintain appropriate records
. All data obtained in the process of conducting a child protection
evaluation are properly maintained and stored in accordance with the APA Record
Keeping Guidelines (APA, 1993). All records, including raw data and
interview information, are recorded with the understanding that they may be
reviewed by other psychologists, the court or the client.
Glossary of Terms
The following definitions are written generally and are intended solely to
familiarize readers to some common terms used in child protection matters.
These are not to be construed as uniformly accepted legal definitions or
applied in specific legal matters. Readers wishing to use these terms as part
of their evaluations are encouraged to confer with a licensed attorney in the
state in which they are providing the evaluation..10
Abuse, emotional: also referred to as 'psychological maltreatment'
generally defined as a repeated pattern of behavior that conveys to children
that they are worthless, unwanted or only of value in meeting another's needs;
may include serious threats of physical or psychological violence.
Abuse, physical: generally defined as the suffering by a child, or
substantial risk that a child will imminently suffer, a physical harm,
inflicted non-accidentally upon him/her by his/ her parents or caretaker.
Abuse, sexual (child): generally defined as contacts between a child
and an adult or other person significantly older or in a position of power or
control over the child, where the child is being used for sexual stimulation of
the adult or other person.
Abuse, neglect: (see Neglect)
Burden of proof: an obligation by a party (e.g., plaintiff in civil
cases, the state in a termination of parental rights matter) to demonstrate to
the court that the weight of the evidence in a legal action favors his/her
side, position or argument.
Beyond a reasonable doubt: highest standard of proof used in cases
where the loss of liberty interests are at stake (e.g., incarceration or loss
of life). Generally defined as the highest degree of support or level of
certainty (90-95% chance).
Child Protective Services (CPS): The social service agency (in most
states) designated to receive reports, investigate and provide rehabilitation
services to children and families with problems of child maltreatment.
Frequently, this agency is located within a large public entity, such as a
department of social services or human services.
Clear and convincing: intermediate standard of proof used in cases when
significant liberty interests are at stake (e.g., loss of parental rights,
civil commitment). Generally defined as a high degree of support or level of
certainty (75% chance).
Disposition hearing: held by the Juvenile/Family Court to determine the
disposition of children after cases have been adjudicated, includes
determinations regarding placement of the child in out-of-home care when
necessary and services needed by the children and family to reduce the risks
and address the effects of maltreatment.
Evidence: any form of proof presented by a party for the purpose of
supporting its factual allegation or arguments before the court.
Expert witness: an individual who by reason of education or specialized
experience possesses superior knowledge respecting a subject about which
persons having no particular training are incapable of forming an accurate
opinion or deducing correct conclusions. A witness who has been qualified as an
expert will be allowed (through his/ her answers to questions posted) to assist
the jury in understanding complicated and technical subjects not within the
understanding of the average lay person. Experts are also allowed to provide
testimony based on "hypothetical" scenarios or information/opinions which are
not specifically related to the parties in particular legal action.
Fact witness: generally defined as an individual who by being present,
personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder, spectator or eyewitness. One
who testifies to what he/she has seen, heard, or otherwise observed regarding a
circumstance, event or occurrence as it actually took place; a physical object
or appearance, as it usually exists or existed. Fact witnesses are generally
not allowed to offer opinion, address issues that they do not have personal
knowledge of or respond to hypothetical situations.
Family/Juvenile court: courts specifically established to hear cases
concerning minors and related domestic matters such as child abuse, neglect,
child support, determination of paternity, termination of parental rights,
juvenile delinquency, and family domestic offenses.
Family preservation/reunification: the philosophical belief of social
service agencies, established in law and policy, that children and families
should be maintained together if the safety of the children can be ensured.
Guardian ad litem
: generally defined as an adult appointed by the court to represent and
make decisions for someone (such as a minor) legally incapable of doing so on
his/her own in a civil legal proceeding. The guardian ad litem can be
any adult with a demonstrated interest.
Guardianship: legal right given to a person to be responsible for the
necessities (e.g., food, shelter, health care) of another person legally deemed
incapable of providing these necessities for him/ herself.
Maltreatment: generally defined as actions that are abusive,
neglectful, or otherwise threatening to a child's welfare. Commonly used as a
general term for child abuse and neglect.
Neglect: generally defined as an act of omission, specifically the
failure of a parent or other person legally responsible for a child's welfare
to provide for the child's basic needs and proper level of care with respect to
food, shelter, hygiene, medical attention or supervision.
a. emotional: generally defined as the passive or passive-aggressive
inattention to a child's emotional needs, nurturing or emotional well-being.
Also referred to as psychological unavailability to a child.
b. physical: generally defined as a child suffering, or in substantial
risk of imminently suffering, physical harm causing disfigurement, impairment
of bodily functioning, or other serious physical injury as a result of
conditions created by a parent or other person legally responsible for the
child's welfare, or by the failure of a parent or person legally responsible
for the child's welfare to adequately supervise or protect him/her.
Out-of-home care: child care, foster care, or residential care provided
by persons, organizations, and institutions to children who are placed outside
of their families, usually under the jurisdiction of Juvenile/Family Court.
Parens patriae: refers traditionally to the role of state
as sovereign and guardian of persons under legal disability. It is a concept of
standing utilized to protect those quasi-sovereign interests such as health,
comfort and welfare of the people, interstate water rights, general economy of
the state, etc. Literally means "parent of the country."
Petition: a formal written application to the court requesting judicial
action on a particular matter.
Preponderance of evidence: lowest of the three standards of proof, and
applied in most civil actions; generally defined as "probable" degree of
certainty (e.g., "more likely than not" or 51% chance).
Protection order: may be ordered by the judge to restrain or control
the conduct of the alleged maltreating adult or any other person who might harm
the child or interfere with the disposition.
Review hearing: held by the Juvenile/Family Court to review
dispositions (usually every 6 months) and to determine the need to maintain
placement in out-of-home care and/or court jurisdiction of a child. Every state
requires state courts, agency panels, or citizen review boards to hold periodic
reviews to reevaluate the child's circumstances if s/he has been placed in
out-of-home care. Federal law requires, as a condition of Federal funding
eligibility, that a review hearing be held within at least 18 months from
disposition, and continue to be held at regular intervals to determine the
ultimate resolution of the case (i.e., whether the child will be returned home,
continued in out-of-home care for a specified period, placed for adoption, or
continued in long-term foster care).
Termination of parental rights hearing: formal judicial proceeding
where the legal rights and responsibility for a child are permanently or
indefinitely severed and no longer legally recognized and where the state
assumes legal responsibility for the care and welfare of the child.
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Journal of Child Sexual Abuse
Journal of Family Violence
Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Child Maltreatment: Journal of the American
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