Child In Need of Assistance (CINA)
A court will determine that a child is "in need of assistance" (CINA) if the local Department of Social Services proves:
- that a child has been abused or neglected, or has a developmental disability or mental disorder; and
- that the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian do not give proper care and attention to the child’s needs.
The Four Stages of CINA Matters
- Shelter care: a CINA case usually begins with a shelter care hearing. If the court finds that there is an emergency situation making it against the child’s welfare to stay in the home, the court may place the child in shelter care. Shelter care is a temporary measure (usually no more than 30 days). A child may be placed in shelter care before a hearing in certain emergency situations.
- Adjudication: the court determines if the facts in the CINA petition are true. If the court finds that DSS has proven the allegations showing neglect, abuse, or that the child’s special needs are not being met, the case moves to the disposition phase (usually on the same day).
- Disposition: the court may either (a) return the child to a parent under specific conditions; or (b) place the child in foster care; or (c) award custody and guardianship to a person who can provide proper care for the child.
- Permanency planning: if a child is placed out of the home for at least 1 year after the initial removal, the court must hold a permanency planning hearing. At this hearing, the court may order the the child to (a) be returned to the custody of the parent or guardian; or (b) the child be placed with a relative (for adoption, or custody and guardianship); or (c) the child be placed with a non-relative (for adoption, or custody and guardianship); or (d) another planned permanent living arrangement that meets the child’s needs.
Possible Criminal Charges
It is a crime for an adult to willfully contribute to or encourage an act, omission, or condition that renders a child in need of assistance. MD. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-828. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to defend against any possible or existing criminal charges resulting from a CINA matter.
Right to Counsel
A parent or guardian has a right to counsel at all CINA stages. Our attorneys have helped many who were facing the potential loss of custody and/or their parental rights. Rest assured that we will work every step of the way to take the necessary steps to regain custody of your child. Call us at (443) 741-2567 anytime, we are here to help.