Losing Custody Due to Addiction

parent holding their childs hand to represent the relationship between parent and child

Table of Contents

What Can I Expect Overall?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you have about 15 months to overcome addiction through treatment programs to get your child or children back. Throughout this time, your children will either be placed with family or in foster care.

In cases where there are no family members capable of taking care of your child, foster care is the only option left. Foster care is meant to be a place for your children to be safe and cared for temporarily while preparing yourself for your family reunited. While your children are in foster care, you can connect with support systems and treatment options during each step of the child welfare process. These procedures are in place to provide safety for your children while you recover from drug addiction and prepare for a new, healthy lifestyle moving forward with your children.

The state will likely grant some form of visitation with your children, but it will probably be supervised initially. Making an effort to see your child(ren) during scheduled time is extremely important. How often you show up is monitored. State child protection departments want to know that you’re invested in your child(ren) and want to get them back.

Termination of Rights: How Much Time Do I Have?

Each state handles situations differently. It’s extremely important to know that the state’s first and primary goal is reunification between the child(ren) and their parents. It is ultimately in the child’s best interest to be with their biological parent(s) when possible.

Some state laws state that if a child has been in the foster care system for 15 out of 22 months, the state may terminate the legal parent-child relationship. Of course, this is if no progress has been made on the part of the parents. You do not want to get to this point.

How States Handle Child Separation Cases

Every state has different but ultimately similar requirements and processes for reunification. The end goal is for parents to rebuild their lives and prove they can provide a safe living environment for their children. In Arizona, the Department of Child Services (DCS) or Child Protective Services (CPS) are differing names for a governing entity that handles parent and child separation cases. Under their procedures, the parent has certain rights and responsibilities that require active engagement and completion of programs to get their children back. It is important to know your rights when communicating with DCS.

Other names for DCS in different states are:
Child Protective Services (CPS)
Department of Social Services (DSS)
Department of Children and Families (DCF)

Will They Tell me Who Reported Me?

You have a right to know when you are officially under investigation by the Department of Child Services. You also have a right to know the accusations that put you under investigation. However, you may not have the right to know who the accuser is. Often DCS investigators receive information via an anonymous tip and do not know who the accuser is.

It is also important to remember that DCS is present for the welfare of the child or children. The goal of DCS is to bring your family back together eventually. Try to recognize and understand that efforts made by DCS are for the protection of your child or children while you focus on recovering from addiction. The focus is to provide healthy homes for children to grow up with their biological families.

Do I Have to Cooperate?

Cooperation and utilization of services and programs offered by DCS are not mandatory. You are under no legal obligation to cooperate with the investigation. DCS’s services to assist in getting your child or children back are not required to participate throughout the investigation. However, actively participating in recovery programs and parenting classes is an excellent way to begin getting your child or children back into your custody.

The law does not require DCS officials to persuade you to cooperate with the investigation. However, noncooperation will not have any effect on the continuance of the investigation. You will still be investigated, and if no effort is made on your part to cooperate, you may ultimately face the loss of your parental rights. Not cooperating will result in unspeakable heartbreak and loss.

Can I File a Complaint Against My Caseworker?

You have the right to file a grievance about how your case was handled or is being handled. The Ombudsman Citizen’s Aide or Family Advocacy Office is an entity designed to ensure fair treatment and results of all involved in the investigation. The Family Advocacy Office is where you turn to file an appeal if you feel that DCS mishandles your case, and they would intervene on your behalf.

Understanding Substance Abuse: What You Need to Know

Addiction can happen to anyone, whether the substance is prescription or illicit. Separation from your children can be an emotional and difficult time, but recovery and healthy choices can bring your children home. Participation in classes and programs is not required but recommended to take advantage of available resources.

Also, drug addiction affects not only you but everyone around you. It is important to remember that your children’s safety and well-being are the sole purposes of DCS and investigators. This time apart will be an opportunity to focus on recovery and learning to make healthy choices.

Take Advantage of this Time to Recover

Take advantage of offered resources for recovery. Drug addiction can cause serious health risks, brain injuries, and, in some cases, irreparable central nervous system damage. Healthy families begin with healthy individuals, which means it’s time to focus on being the healthy person you can be for your child(ren).

Participating in parenting classes and drug recovery programs can show DCS and welfare services that you are committed to providing a safe and healthy home for your child or children. Education and practice will keep you proactively engaged in a structured support system.

Dealing with Your Investigations’ Caseworker

Working with DCS during an investigation can seem scary. This process can become less intimidating when you know what to expect.

Roughly 3 out of 5 children will return to their families or close family members. Acquiring or refreshing parenting skills is the determining factor for your child or children returns to you. You must prove to DCS that you can provide a safe and healthy home for your child or children. A safe and healthy home includes meeting your child’s needs with hygiene, protection, nutrition, and supplies. These needs must be met and proven to continue before your child or children may come home.

How to Cooperate Fully and Honestly

Work together as Team: Working together with your team is the best course of action to help the process along. Cooperation during the investigation and participating in resources available to you is part of working with your team. Work together with your caseworker, who is the main contact point that can assist you with anything you need to know. You can ask your caseworker questions, identify strengths and weaknesses, and track your progress with your caseworker. You may also have a lawyer on your team if you wish or if court proceedings are necessary. An attorney can act as a liaison during court hearings and proceedings. They also want you to succeed. This means another case win in their portfolio as well as assist in reuniting a family. You may be appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) or court-appointed special advocate (CASA) instead of an attorney. These court members are a part of your team and want what is best for your child or children. It is often unanimous that what is best for your child or children is to be home with you. Keep a Positive Attitude You can also ensure that you have a positive perspective on the situation and see that your team can help you. If you keep your team on the opposing side, you will never see them as your teammates. Your child’s foster caregivers are also a member of your team. They are there to care for your child or children while recovering from drug addiction, which will require your full focus. The foster parents want you to have your child or children back when you are ready and able. Nobody wants to take your child or children away from you. Your teammates want you to succeed, as you all have the same goal.

How to Help Your Children Through This Difficult Time

Throughout this process, your child or children are going to be suffering as well. They may be frightened, nervous, anxious, or upset. These are all normal reactions to a scary situation. So, what can you do to help them through this time?

Visit Often

Your child or children will miss you. Wherever the temporary residence is, go and visit them regularly if possible. The visits are a time to form new habits and adhere to a new structure and routine. You can build on the integrity of the new practices by setting goals and meeting them. Tell your child or children that you will visit them once a week on a specific day. Maintain that goal for one month, and then slowly add a day after meeting the goal. Maintaining this goal will begin to show your child or children that you are right to your word, you can keep appointments, and that they are a priority to you.

Bond with Your Children

Utilize the time spent with your child or children by bonding with them. Open yourself up for discussion to answer any questions they may have. Answering honestly and directly can help build trust and communication in your new relationship with your child or children. Begin introducing new ideas and new patterns of behavior when it is time for them to come home. This will help your child or children not dwell on what is happening but to look ahead at things to come.

Allow Them to Express Their Feelings

Your child or children may feel any number of emotions. They may not understand what their emotions are or how to express them. Bringing things to do with your child or children on your visits can help them clearly express their emotions. For example, bring art supplies for an activity to do together so your child or children can express their feelings in their art projects.

Get to Know the Caregivers

Whoever cares for your child or children is an important role in your child or children’s lives during the separation period. Getting to know the caregivers sets clear intentions to communicate about the child or children. This will help the caregivers recognize behavior patterns that may be abnormal, help the child or children be more comfortable during this stressful time, and help all team members sync.

Keep Going For Them

Do not give up. Keep visiting your child or children during the separation period. Keep going to scheduled appointments, parenting classes, and recovery programs. Keep in touch with your child outside of the visits. Keep up with legal requirements and court instructions, and recommendations. Keep believing in yourself and your dedication to making healthy choices for yourself and your family. Keep going to help your child or children come home.

Signs Your Case is Coming to a Close

Reasonable indications that your case is close to the end will be apparent during visits. Extended visitation hours and parameters and moving from supervised to unsupervised visits is proof that you are progressing in your case. You may also instigate the change in visitations by discussing the topic with your caseworker. If you would like to see your child or children more often or for longer, talk with your caseworker about the progression you have made and show proof of improvement. Your caseworker will document your progress, which helps prove to the court that you are recovering from drug addiction and making healthy decisions about your future with your child or children.

Moving Forward

When your child or children is back home with you, there will be a necessary adjustment period. It is essential to understand that each family member will take their own time to adjust and ask for help whenever required. Take this time to come back together as a family and make healthy choices together. If you or someone you love are suffering from addiction, then call us today. Our team of experts can help you through this difficult time. This is not something that you need to face alone. Call today, and start getting the help you deserve now.
Susana Spiegel

Susana Spiegel

Susana has experience writing about addiction, treatment, mental health, and recovery. She holds a Bachelors in Arts of Theology from GCU, and has a deep empathy for those who are struggling with addiction, as she is in recovery herself.

Our website is supported by our users. Therefore, we often feature affiliate links throughout our website. If you click on those links, we may earn a commission.

Questions? Please email: content@abtrs.com

Begin your journey to addiction recovery.

Speak to a treatment admissions specialist now. 

Search Posts

Talk to a therapist online and get support right now.

As an affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase services through the links provided.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Get help and rebuild your life.

Recovery Starts Today

Drug and alcohol treatment is available for all financial situations. Private insurance, medicaid, medicare, no insurance, more. Call now!