dependent and neglected children | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Juvenile Justice

Dependent and neglected children are those needing care and supervision, as recognized by the courts, not due to delinquent activity.

When we talk about dependent and neglected children, we refer to minors who are not receiving proper care. They are “dependent” because they rely on adults for their needs. They are “neglected” because those adults are failing to provide the necessary care.

The reasons for this neglect can vary. Some parents struggle with addiction, illness, or financial problems. Other parents lack parenting skills or have a history of abuse or neglect.

Role of the Courts

The courts get involved to protect the children. A report of neglect or abuse often starts the process. This report may come from a teacher, neighbor, or police officer. It can also come from a family member.

Once the court is involved, it tries to determine what is best for the child. This can be a difficult process. The court has to balance the rights of the parents with the needs of the child.

State Intervention

If the court decides a child is at risk, the state can intervene. This often means removing the child from the home. This is a serious step. The goal is always to protect the child.

The child may be placed with a relative. They may also go to a foster home. In some cases, they may go to a group home or residential facility.

Services for Children and Families

The state provides services to both the child and the family. The child might get counseling or medical care. They may also get help with school.

The family might get parenting classes. They may also get help with addiction or mental health issues. The goal is to fix the problems that led to the neglect.

The Goal of Reunification

The ultimate goal is usually to reunite the family. This can only happen if the home is safe. The parents must show they can provide proper care.

Sometimes, reunification is not possible. In these cases, the court looks for a long-term solution. This could be adoption or legal guardianship.

The Impact of Being a Dependent and Neglected Child
Being a dependent and neglected child is hard. These children often face physical, emotional, and academic challenges. They may struggle with trust and relationships. They need support and understanding.

In conclusion, dependent and neglected children is a term used by the courts. It refers to children who are not receiving the care they need. They are not in court because they did something wrong. They are there because they need help. The court, along with the state, works to provide that help. The goal is always to create a safe, stable environment where the child can thrive.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 06/16/2023

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