*Children's Services - Frequently Asked Questions
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Q: What is the age at which a child may be safely left alone without adult supervision?
A: Age alone is not a very good indicator of a child's maturity level. Some very mature 10-year-olds may be ready for self care while some 15-year-olds may not be ready due to emotional problems or behavioral difficulties.

» Learn more
 
Q: Someone called Child Protective Services and reported me for abusing/neglecting my child. The local department of social services is starting an investigation. Who can I contact for help and information?
A: Local departments of social services are required to investigate all child protective services (CPS) complaints that meet the definition of child abuse or neglect. The CPS supervisor in your local department of social services can provide details of the investigation process.

» More about the CPS Program
 
Q: My child has been removed by the local department of social services. What can I do?
A: Communicate and cooperate with the local department social services. You will have the opportunity to present your side of the issue at a court hearing. The local department of social services will also discuss visitation with your child while he/she is in custody of that agency. You will have the opportunity to hire an attorney. In most jurisdictions the court will appoint an attorney if you are not able to pay for one according to court income guidelines.
 
Q: I attended a hearing in which the judge made a ruling based on inaccurate information. How can I set the record straight?
A: Your attorney is your voice with the court. You should work with your attorney to ensure that your situation is accurately portrayed in court.
 
Q: I believe the social worker assigned to my case is not performing his/her job appropriately. Who can I contact with my concerns?
A: The social worker's supervisor and the local department of social services director will be able to address your complaint.
 
Q: My child is in foster care. I want to change my visitation arrangements. How can I do this?
A: You may contact your child's social worker or the social worker's supervisor to discuss changing your visitation arrangements with your child.
 
Q: My child is in foster care. I don't agree with the goal that the local agency has chosen for my child. How can I have the goal changed?
A: Local agencies are required to pursue a foster care goal that will achieve permanent living arrangements for your child as quickly as possible. You and the local department of social services should be working together on your child's service plan, where your child's goal and the method for achieving it is described. If you disagree with the service plan, you can work with your attorney to make your view known to the court.

» More about the Foster Care Program
 
Q: My child is in foster care and I don't agree with the local agency's decision regarding his/her placement. What can I do?
A: Communicate your concerns to the social worker assigned to your case and the social worker's supervisor. Virginia law gives placement authority to local social services agencies, so you will have to work with the agency and through the court hearing process to have your concerns addressed.
 
Q: I am involved in a custody dispute. A local department of social services is preparing home studies on me and my ex-spouse. How can I make sure the local department is aware of all the issues regarding my situation?
A: You will have an opportunity to discuss your situation with the social worker assigned to do your home study. Your attorney will also be able to present your case to the court. If you disagree with the content of the home study, you can discuss your concerns with the social worker's supervisor. If you feel your ex-spouse may be abusing or neglecting your child, you can make a report to Virginia's Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-552-7096.

Will I have to pay for a home study to be made, and if so, how much?

There is a cost for conducting a home study, but the cost varies across the state. The local department responsible for conducting your home study can give you an estimate of the cost.

 
Q: I have applied for adoption assistance to help with the cost of rearing a child with special needs. Where can I find out what type and amount of assistance I'm eligible for?
A: The social worker who placed your child and the worker's supervisor will be able to answer your questions about adoption assistance.

» Adoption Manual & More About the Adoption Program