Abuse / Neglect

In Nevada, the Department of Family Services (DFS) is responsible for the investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect. Abuse and neglect of a minor child consists of (1) physical and/or mental non-accidental injury; (2) sexual abuse or exploitation; or (3) negligent treatment or maltreatment.

Upon receipt of a report of abuse and neglect to DFS, the agency’s first step is to obtain sufficient information to determine if the allegations indicate that a report of abuse and neglect is appropriate for investigation. The investigation determines if the child is safe, at risk for future harm, or if the child and parents should receive child welfare services.

Thereafter, the agency will determine whether the allegations of abuse and neglect are substantiated or unsubstantiated. If the allegations are substantiated, the agency must provide written notice to the party responsible for the child’s welfare and advise the party on their right to appeal. If the party opts to appeal, a hearing must be held.

If the allegations are substantiated, the child may either remain in the caretaker’s residence, be placed in foster care, or in temporary out of home protective care. Each case of abuse and neglect must provide the offending party with a written case plan which identifies current barriers that prevent a safe environment for the child and a reunification plan. The case plan should identify the goals and objectives associated with the particular plan. Typically, the goals enumerated in the case plan include future reunification between the child and parent/guardian or termination of the parent’s rights.

The stated goal, either reunification or termination, may be subject to change depending upon the offending party’s compliance with the conditions set forth for reunification and desire for the same. The offending party may be required to attend mental health and/or drug/alcohol counseling, in addition to classes designed to prevent this type of non-accidental injury in the future. Additionally, the agency may provide economic assistance, employment training and assistance with housing or medical services to the offending party.

Each case must be reviewed at least every six (6) months. At each hearing, the party’s compliance with the case plan shall be reviewed and a determination be made as to whether the current goal (reunification or termination of parental rights) is still appropriate. Cases are terminated when the agency determines that the specified goals have been achieved, the child is receiving sufficient care which no longer requires the agency’s services, there is a dismissal of the action, or the parent voluntarily terminates their parental rights.

If a parent’s rights are terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily, the child may be placed for adoption, with a fit and willing relative, placed with a legal guardian or in another permanent living situation.

Our experienced attorneys can further walk you through this process once becoming a client of the firm. Do not navigate this complicated process alone – we can help. Call our office today at (702) 224-2778.

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