How Long Does Arizona DCS Have to Investigate an Allegation?

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney Suppose five-year-old Lucas tells his Kindergarten teacher that his dad hits him and that is why he has a faint bruise on his leg. As a mandatory reporter under A.R.S. § 13-3620, Lucas’ teacher calls the DCS hotline and reports her “reasonable belief” that Lucas may be abused or […]

So You’ve Given Birth to a Substance Exposed Newborn

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney Imagine you have a friend, Chloe, a lawyer who was prescribed pain meds after a car accident four years ago and ever since suffers from an unfortunate addiction to oxycodone. Chloe is also pregnant with her first child. When Chloe starts to go into labor, she arrives at St. […]

Both DCS and the Police have Questions for your Client—What Now?

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Originally Published in the Maricopa Lawyer, online edition available 08/08/21. Your client calls you saying the police and the Department of Child Safety (DCS) are at their door. You know your client is in the middle of a toxic divorce and brace for what is about to come next. “They […]

10 Years Post-Sandusky: CAPTA and Mandatory Reporting in Arizona

By Brad TenBrook and Isabel Ranney Originally Published 06/24/21 for the Maricopa County Bar Association. After Jerry Sandusky’s arrest for child sex abuse in 2011, states across the United States began paying attention. Sandusky was a well-respected assistant football coach at Penn State and the founder of a non-profit charity dedicated to helping at-risk youth […]

So DCS has invited you to a Team Decision-Making Meeting (TDM): Now what?

By Deandra Arena and Isabel Ranney In the grand scheme of nearly indecipherable acronyms in child welfare investigations, one particular abbreviation stands out as being part of nearly every case but nonetheless being misunderstood by most parents. The “TDM,” or “team decision-making meeting,” is an important step in the resolution of child welfare investigations that […]

How the Medical “Code of Silence” Affects Child Abuse Litigation

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Despite being the fifth-largest city in the United States, Phoenix only has seven board-certified pediatric orthopedic surgeons, five of whom work at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Because of their specialty, it is safe to presume that the surgeons all know each other from their professional community and any conferences they […]

The Not-So Basics of Third-Party Visitation

By Markus Risinger and Isabel Ranney A person’s right to parent their children is a fundamental right under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The only way to completely dissolve a parent’s fundamental right to parent in Arizona is through severance. Visitation, however, permits a third party to be awarded time with the children if […]

When straddle injuries are confused with child abuse

By: Gregg R. Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Injuries with these symptoms are called straddle injuries. Straddle injuries occur when a female hits her vulva or perineum (external female genitalia) on an object, and the force of her weight on the object causes injury [1]. Signs of a straddle injury include tears in the vaginal area, […]

Arizona DCS 101

By: Gregg R. Woodnick I will do my best to capture that answer in the few paragraphs below. This is far from a comprehensive answer to the question, but after I explained it in the interview, I realized I need to write it out.  Having represented parties in child abuse and neglect proceedings,  I sometimes forget that the underlying […]