39 Kids and the Law may decide to order that the child be placed in the custody of DCF; DCF then decides where to place the child. The judge will try to correct the child’s behavior using the least restrictive alternative (making the smallest changes in the child’s or family’s life). The judge may allow the child to stay at home while ordering the child to complete evaluations, attend therapy, participate in educational services, etc. The most restrictive action the court can take (making the most change in a child’s or family’s life) is to commit the child to the care and custody of DCF. (This is a different agency than the Department of Youth Services (DYS) which deals with delinquent children.) What happens if the court places a child in the custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF)? A child can be committed to the custody of DCF as a result of a CRA proceeding even if the parent does not agree. But first, the court must hold a Temporary Custody Hearing. The parent or guardian and child are required to attend this hearing. The court will appoint an attorney to represent the parent or legal guardian at the hearing if the court finds they cannot afford to hire an attorney. Usually the same attorney who represented the child at the Preliminary Hear- ing continues to represent the child. How long can a court order last? The court order following the Disposition Hearing can last for no more than 120 days. The judge can extend this order 3 times for a maximum period of 90 days for each extension. This means a court order on a CRA can last for no more than 390 days. However, the order cannot last beyond the child’s 18th birthday (for a home-based case) or 16th birthday (for a school-based case). What if the child, parent or guardian does not agree with the court decision or order? If the child, parent or guardian does not agree with the court’s decision, the child, parent or guardian can appeal the decision. The appeal must be filed within 30 days. However, the child will stay in the custody of DCF while the appeal is ongoing. Child Requiring Assistance 4