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 […]

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 […]

Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights

By: Markus Risinger and Deborah Lee The Arizona Court of Appeals recently touched upon the Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights Act in Jessica P. v. Department of Child Safety. In that case, the mother argued that the juvenile court had a statutory duty to apply the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act and the failure to […]

Rumors & Mandatory Reporting: Zamora reminds us the reasonableness standard is opaque warranting caution when dealing with any allegation of abuse

Brittany Zamora has garnered nationwide attention for her nefarious sexual relationship with her 13-year-old student. Zamora recently pleaded guilty to several sexual abuse charges and is now facing a lengthy prison sentence. However, a lesser known civil suit also surfaced, claiming Zamora’s school district[1] knew about the abuse months before the parents discovered it and did nothing to intervene.[2]  Given a failure to report child abuse constitutes a class 6 felony under Arizona law,[3] we ought to be curious whether the district’s officials could be criminally liable, too.

When Adoptions Fail

Building adopted families is a dream for many people.  Perhaps adoption is a choice in the wake of fertility challenges, perhaps adoption is the product of a relative who is unable to care for their own child through CPS, or perhaps building your family has always meant adopting.  After all, there are far too many children in state care who also need loving homes.

Fingerprint Identification

Fingerprint identification is perhaps the most important and well-known form of biometrics. Virtually everyone understands the basics: fingerprints are unique to each individual and contain markers that can be used to compare samples and identify the person responsible for leaving a fingerprint mark with substantial reliability. Although not always as “cut and dry” as they appear in crime dramas, fingerprints are a steady tool of law and a source of many interesting scenarios.

Did the DCS/CPS Caseworker Really Just Tell Me That I Don’t Need a Lawyer?

Something that has confounded me since day one of practicing law in Phoenix, and all throughout the state of Arizona, is that DCS case managers frequently tell parents they are investigating for child abuse or neglect that they do not need a lawyer.  Sure, the early stages of their investigation may not involve the Juvenile Court or the DCS lawyer (Arizona Attorney General’s Office), but it does involve the parents’ constitutionally protected, fundamental right to parent their children.