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Policy Manual
COURTS
Superior Court For Juvenile Matters

46-3-10
Neglect Petitions

Definitions

 

A neglect petition (JD-JM-98) is filed in juvenile court when the petitioner, usually the Department, represents that the child/youth is: 

Neglected in that the child/youth:

          has been abandoned

          is being denied proper care and attention, physically, educationally, emotionally or morally

          is being permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to the child’s well-being, or

          has been abused and has: 

-          physical injury or injuries inflicted by other than accidental means

-          injuries which are at variance with the history given about them or

-          a condition which is the result of maltreatment such as, but not limited to, malnutrition, sexual molestation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment or cruel punishment 

Uncared for in that: 

          the child/youth is homeless, or

          the child’s/youth’s home cannot provide the specialized care which the physical, emotional or mental condition of the child/youth requires 

Dependent  in that: 

the child’s/youth’s home is suitable but for the financial inability of the parent or guardian or other person maintaining such home to provide the specialized care the condition of the child/youth requires.  (This category is rarely used).
Legal Reference Connecticut General Statutes 46b-120.
Predictive Neglect

All of the definitions listed above are relatively specific except for the definition of neglect regarding the conditions injurious to well being.  Predictive neglect describes injurious conditions to which a child is exposed, and can be used in those situations in which the conditions may cause the child harm at a future date. This is known as predictive neglect.  For example, the child: 

          has witnessed repeated episodes of domestic violence

          lives in a home where drug trafficking takes place

          is repeatedly exposed to alcohol or substance abuse

          is exposed to inappropriate sexual conduct by adult caretakers

          is left with inappropriate caretakers

          has siblings who have been neglected or abused and the conditions leading to that neglect or abuse have not abated

      is a newborn whose parents are unable to provide adequate care.
When Filed?

A neglect petition is filed when the Department is seeking: 

        an Order of Temporary Custody

        the commitment of a child/youth

        an adjudication of neglect followed by a termination of parental rights (coterminous situation)

        an Order of Protective Supervision, or

     a transfer of the custody and guardianship of the child to some other suitable and worthy person or persons.
Who is Named?

The parents of all children in the case shall be named in a neglect petition.  All legal and putative fathers shall also be named.  Unknown parents shall be referred to as John or Jane Doe. 

If the court has adjudicated a father as such, but his name does not appear on the birth certificate, he shall be named nonetheless. In that case, even if another man is named on the birth certificate, he does not need to be named on the Department’s petition.  Reference shall be made in the Summary of Facts to the legal status of the named father. 

If a child is born while his or her mother is married, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the father and shall be named in the petition. If another man has been adjudicated by the court to be the father or the court has made a finding that the husband is not the father, then the husband need not be named on the petition.

If a legal guardian has been appointed for the child by a court, he or she shall be named on the petition.   

Non-legal or custodial relatives shall not be named on the petition.  Stepparents who have not adopted and are not legal guardians of the child shall not be named. 

The parents of a minor parent (i.e., the child’s grandparents) are not named in a neglect petition.
Confidential Address

Whenever a respondent asks that his or her address remain confidential for safety reasons, the petitions and all other documents filed in court should state “confidential address.” 

When a petition is filed with the court with a confidential address for a parent, an affidavit for Request for Non-Disclosure of Location Information should also be submitted in a sealed envelope addressed to the court.  

The affidavit will include the confidential address so that the court can send any required notices.
Child's Address

The child's address shall be listed on the petition.  If sharing the child's address with the parents is a concern, then the petition shall state DCF licensed foster home, or other similar general information. 

In the situations involving newborns, or hospitalized children, the address section shall state currently hospitalized at (name) Hospital.
Grounds Alleged

All grounds for neglect that are supported by facts and can be proven in court shall be checked on the petition (Form JD-JM 98.)  Multiple grounds, such as neglect and uncared for, can be alleged in the same petition. 

The grounds shall reflect the condition of each child.  Different grounds can be alleged for different children in one family.
Jurisdictional Facts The portion of a petition where the petitioner sets forth facts that indicate that the case is appropriately within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court is also called the to wit section.   This is a very brief statement of jurisdiction.
Summary of Facts

The portion of a petition which sets forth with a reasonable degree of particularity the specific instances, acts or conditions which the petitioner contends have resulted in the child's current situation, and which have led the petitioner to file with the court is known as the Summary of Facts. It is considered an amplification of the statutory allegations checked on the petition itself (JD-JM-98) and summarized in the jurisdictional facts. It is incorporated by reference into the petition. 

The Summary of Facts shall include a brief history of the family’s previous involvement with DCF, if applicable and relevant to current allegations of child abuse/neglect.  It shall also include a summary of any previous juvenile court involvement.

The Summary of Facts shall include dates and places of alleged incidents of neglect or abuse.  

The Summary of Facts shall not include allegations known to be false, allegations made by anonymous persons that cannot be independently verified by the Social Worker or other available witness, or arrests that have not resulted in a conviction (although pending criminal charges and investigations of abuse and/or neglect may be included).

The purpose of the Summary of Facts is to provide the respondent parties with notice of what facts the Department intends to prove to establish the allegations of neglect.  It is not necessary to include supporting evidence in the Summary of Facts.
Signatures and Copies

A duly authorized agent of the Commissioner shall sign the Neglect Petition. One (1) original (front and back) and the number of copies indicated in the checklist shall be sent to court.  One (1) copy is kept in the case record until the court returns a signed, dated copy.  (The number of copies and distribution of copies may vary from court to court.) 

The copies sent to court shall be distributed by the court as follows: 

          mother

          father(s)

          child’s attorney

          each parent’s attorney

          Assistant Attorney General  (AAG)

          Department of Children and Families (DCF)

          Court Services Officer (CSO)

      Children in Placement Coordinator (CIP).
Standard of Proof in Neglect Cases

The standard of proof in neglect cases is a fair preponderance of the evidence, which is the same as in other civil (non-criminal) cases.   

A fair preponderance of evidence is evidence that is of greater weight or more convincing than evidence that is offered in opposition, or evidence that it is more likely than not that the facts alleged are true.  (Blacks Law Dictionary - Sixth Edition)

Legal Reference:  In Re Juvenile Appeal  192 Conn. 254 (1984).

Connecticut Department of Children and Families Effective Date: November 1, 2005 (Revised)