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; McClain, 1995).
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, 1995).
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, 1992)3
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 (APA, 1993).
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.
Parents4 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 neglect5,
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
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 child.
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 parent(s)?
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 community factors.
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 consultation.
Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters
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 and
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
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
(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 placement.
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 their objectivity.
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 current 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
nondiscriminatory practice. 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 caution.
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 report).
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 the
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 agency regulations.
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 appropriate fashion.
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 report.
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
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
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
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%
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
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
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
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
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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