37 Kids and the Law What happens if a judge finds that a child alleged to require assistance based on the failure to obey home rules is not likely to appear in court for the Fact-Finding or Disposition Hearing? The judge may decide to order the child placed in the temporary custody of DCF for 15 days. At the hearing held at the end of the 15 days, the judge can decide to return custody to the parent or guardian or renew the temporary DCF custody for another 15 days. At the next hearing the judge can order a 3rd 15-day temporary custody order. The maximum time the child can be in the temporary custody of DCF before the Fact-Finding Hearing is 45 days. What happens at a Conference Hearing? The purpose of a Conference Hearing is for the judge to learn enough to make a decision about what is best for the child. It should be a collaborative pro- cess in which the judge listens to proposed recommendations from all who attend. This may include the child; the child’s attorney; the child’s parent or guardian; a representative from the services program or resource center that is involved with the family; the person who filed the CRA application; a represen- tative from the child’s school; a representative from DCF, if it is involved with the family; other people who may be helpful in identifying effective assistance available to the child and the family; and the probation officer. The probation officer sends out invitations to this meeting and requests that certain people be invited. The people who attend the Conference Hearing may provide written recom- mendations to the judge about appropriate treatment and services for the child and family, placement for the child, and treatment and services to be includ- ed in the placement. The probation officer is required to file a written report with recommendations about needed services, treatment, and placement. What happens at a Disposition Hearing? At the Disposition Hearing, the probation officer presents the written report to the judge. The judge will then make orders intended to help the child. The goal is to help strengthen and encourage family life. The judge decides whether it is in the best interests of the child to remain at home. The judge can require cer- tain conditions be met if the child stays home. The judge must decide wheth- er DCF made reasonable efforts to prevent removal of the child and whether there is an immediate risk of harm or neglect if the child stays home. The judge Child Requiring Assistance 4