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 III: When Members of the Clergy Fail to Report Child Abuse
By Gregg Woodnick and Isabel Ranney The conversation between an individual and a member of the Clergy during a spiritual confession is sacrosanct. It is a time when the person confessing should feel that they can speak freely, without fear of reprisal. This act of confession is so valued that Arizona law permits members of […]
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 […]
Allegations of Abuse Against Parents with Transgender Children in Arizona
By Isabel Ranney Imagine you are in the middle of a contentious divorce with your soon to be ex. You have one child in common—an eleven-year-old named Sam—who was born biologically male but has expressed a desire to wear dresses and be referred to using she/her pronouns. Sam’s preferences were a major factor in the […]
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 . 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 […]
Arizona Department of Child Safety: Visitation With Your Child is Non-Essential?
Arizona Department of Child Safety’s (DCS) director, Mike Faust, has issued a handful statements on the COVID-19 pandemic. As recently as April 10, 2020, DCS was not allowing in-person visitation to occur between a parent and their child in DCS custody.