29 Kids and the Law A school district can apply for a Habitual School Offender or Truant applica- tion under #3 and #4 above. If the school applies under #3, it must allege that the child repeatedly fails to obey the school regulations and the specific steps the school has taken to improve the child’s behavior. If the school applies un- der #4, it must allege that the child willfully failed to attend school for more than 8 days in the quarter and the specific steps the school has taken to im- prove attendance. How is a CRA action started? A person can go to the clerk’s office in the juvenile court and ask for a CRA application. The clerk should give the applicant some information, including a booklet about the court process, available programs, and resources. The clerk can also make referrals to services. The person does not have to accept or ask for a referral for services, but if the person does ask for referral, the application for the CRA will not be filed. If the person decides to apply for the CRA, the clerk will schedule a Preliminary Hearing to take place within 15 days. No informal assistance or diversion is available until ordered by the court at the Preliminary Hearing. Notice of the Preliminary Hearing (a letter from the court) will be sent to the child, parent, guardian, and custodian, i.e., if the child is in the custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or the Department of Youth Services (DYS). What are the rights of a child in a CRA case? A child in a CRA case has the right to an attorney at all hearings. If the parent or guardian is not able to hire an attorney for the child, the court will appoint one. The role of the attorney is to speak for the child and to tell the court what the child wants. It is ­­­­­not the role of the attorney to argue to the court or to service providers what is in the best interests of the child. (As in all legal matters, attorneys have a duty to counsel their clients.) The child also has the right to have a language interpreter present in court if the child does not speak or understand English. Child Requiring Assistance 4