If the Department of Social Services gets involved, it is because they have received a report of child abuse. Child abuse is defined pursuant to S.C. Code Section 63-7-20 - which lays out the different types of abuse that DSS can use to seek a finding of child abuse. If DSS makes a case indication of abuse, it can either issue a safety plan or remove the child into its custody.
If a child is removed into DSS custody, the parents and/or legal guardians will be served with a removal petition that lays out the Department's basis for the removal and the findings it is seeking in Court. In the event of Court proceedings there will be a probable cause hearing set within 72 hours from the time the child was taken into emergency protective custody. If probable cause for the removal is found, a merits hearing on the allegations will be set within 35 days from the service of the removal petition. At the merits hearing, the Court will determine whether or not the Department has proven its case and what if any treatment plan the parents or legal guardians must complete in order to secure the return of the child.
A permanency planning hearing will be set after the merits hearing to determine what will happen to the child in the future. If the parent or guardian has completed the treatment plan, they may petition for the return of the child to the home. In the event that the treatment plan has not been completed, then the Court will determine where the child will be placed long-term, whether that is with another relative or in the foster care system. Don't fight the Department alone, get experience on your side.
If you have been ordered to do a treatment plan, you must comply with it. Failure to comply with a treatment plan ordered by the Court can result in DSS filing an additional case against you for termination of parental rights.
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