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

Image thanks to Unsplash.

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 [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.