Fast-Tracked Termination: What is Happening in Arizona

By Woodnick Law  Once a child is born, its parents are endowed with a “fundamental right to parent.” This means that like other fundamental rights (e.g. right to privacy, right to marry), there is a higher scrutiny placed on any attempts to interfere with that right and the presumption is that the right will remain […]

Racial Disparity in Arizona DCS Investigations Receives National Attention

By Woodnick Law, PLLC Conscious or unconscious, racial bias affects all aspects of life. The caseworkers and child welfare investigators (OCWIs) that make up the Department of Child Safety (DCS) are not immune from these biases. A recent article from ProPublica, which has received national attention, addresses how these biases have culminated in a disproportionate […]

A Position of Trust II: Teachers Facing Prosecution for Failure to Report Child Abuse

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney When mandatory reporters fail to report suspected child abuse, they are complicit in letting the abuse continue. Educators, in particular, have such a unique and consistent level of interaction with children that makes them a reliable source of child abuse/neglect reports. Due to this, nearly all states, including Arizona, lists […]

A Position of Trust: Teachers Accused of Sexual Misconduct with Students

By Sabra Barnett and Isabel Ranney  Due to their close proximity to students, teachers and school personnel are often the first line of defense when it comes to identifying signs of child abuse and they are often blamed for failing to detect abuse sooner. Teachers are expected to act as detectives – to notice and […]

Is it Me or is Everyone Talking About Parental Alienation?

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney Things do not just “trend” in fashion or TikTok. They happen in courtrooms too. In the 1980s, the era of unlocking repressed memory had people suddenly remembering childhood traumas at a scientifically unsupportable rate, and with significant consequences. In the 1990s, guided imagery led to even more “recollections” of memories, […]

An Abuse Allegation Against You Has Been “Substantiated”: Now What?

By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney A DCS Investigation Crystal is the mother of three-month-old Michael and six-year-old Grace. A few months ago, she was the subject of a Department of Child Safety (DCS) investigation when Michael fractured his leg after a fall in the park. The attending physician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital believed the […]

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 […]

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 […]