Assisting Law Enforcement in Understanding the Status of CPS Children
This flyer is intended to assist Law Enforcement in understanding the legal status of the CPS children, who maintains custody of dependent children, and how to respond to a dependent child who has been abducted.
A child can be taken into Temporary Protective Custody, by either Law Enforcement or the Child Protective Services Social Worker. The child is then placed out of the home of the parent(s) or guardian from whom the child was removed. Within seventy-two (72) judicial hours from the date of removal, a Detention/Arraignment hearing will take place.
Once the child has been taken into Temporary Protective Custody, the parent(s)/guardian does not have the legal right to remove the child from the place where the child has been placed, without the Child Protective Services agency’s knowledge and approval and after the Detention/Arraignment Hearing, without the Dependency Court’s knowledge and approval.
A Dependent Child is a child whose care, custody and control have been removed from the parent(s) or guardian and the child has been placed with the Child Protective Services agency by the Dependency Court. In turn, CPS will formally place the child either with a relative caretaker, a shelter caretaker, a foster parent, in a group home setting or possibly in a hospital setting.
The change of custody from the parent(s) or legal guardian to the CPS agency occurs when the Dependency Court makes the following findings:
Pursuant to WIC 319: Substantial danger exists to the physical and/or emotional
health of the child and there is no reasonable means to protect the child without
A prima facie case for detaining the child and demonstrating that the child is a
person described by WIC 300, subdivision(s) A-J is established.
Temporary custody and placement is vested with the Child Protective Services
agency ending disposition or further order of the Dependency Court.
At this point, the child is in the legal custody of CPS. Any act of concealment of the child, by the either parent or the legal guardian from CPS or the Dependency Court is considered to be an abduction of that child. Penal Code §277(k) defines abduction as the unlawful taking, enticing away, keeping, withholding or concealing of a child.
In addition to the placement outside the home of a parent(s) or legal guardian, the child can be placed, by the Dependency Court, back into the home of a parent(s) or legal guardian, under the continued supervision of the Dependency Court and CPS. This is only a placement and the parent(s) or legal guardian does not have the right to withhold or conceal the child from either the Dependency Court or the Child Protective Services agency. When this occurs, the Dependency Court makes the following finding:
Child is ordered placed in the Home of …(Parent, Mother or Father or Parents), under the supervision of CPS.
Therefore, a parent or legal guardian who takes his/her/their child when a Home of Parent order is in effect is still considered to have abducted the child. The reason being that ALL dependent children remain under the legal custody of the CPS agency. The child must be made available to CPS so that his or her care can be monitored. If the parent abducts the child, CPS is unable to supervise the child and ensure the protection and safety of that child.
When a child is abducted under any of the above-mentioned circumstances, the Social Worker will request that both a Missing Person’s Report and a Child Abduction Report (Penal Code 278) be filed. Both of these reports are legally necessary and will assist the District Attorney’s Office in pursuing and locating the abducted child and will also facilitate the recovery of abducted child from other states.
The local Child Protective Services agency always appreciates the assistance and co-operation of Law Enforcement in responding the requests of the Social Worker in filing both the Missing Person’s and Child Abduction Report.
Content written by Linda Quintana-Mansouri, CPS Consultant to Los Angeles County.
For Information and Resources:
Please contact Xiomara Flores-Holguin, Children Services Administrator, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (213) 700-9921.