Chapter 4 : Section 1

Out-of-Home Dependency


The Department shall file a petition for an out-of-home dependency when:

  • the child has been assessed as unsafe and the safety plan is out-of-home care or separation of the child from one or both parents (such as a safety plan that requires a parent to leave the home as a safety action); and

  • legal grounds for dependency exist.

At least 15 days before the Disposition Hearing, the Department shall give written notice to the court and all parties if the Department intends to present evidence that an aggravating circumstance exists and request a permanency goal other than reunification.

When the court has granted a Dependency Petition, the Department shall provide out-of-home care for a child if no services or interventions can adequately ensure the child's health and safety in the family's home while either:

  • the parent(s) address(es) the safety threats that prevent them from caring for the child safely at home; or

  • another permanency goal is implemented.

The Department shall make every effort to minimize the length of time that a child resides in out-of-home care by:

  • working closely with parents, extended family, community support networks, and other resources to meet the Conditions for Return; and

  • actively pursuing a concurrent permanency goal for the child when the prognosis of achieving family reunification is unlikely to occur within 12 months of the child’s initial removal.


When the in-home safety analysis indicates there is no sufficient, feasible, and sustainable in-home or combination safety plan that can be implemented, and a Voluntary Placement is not appropriate, the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator will consult with the DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager to review the case prior to submitting a Dependency Petition Worksheet to the Attorney General’s Office.

Upon approval by the DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager, the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator may contact the Assistant Attorney General to review the case and determine whether there are legal grounds for dependency.

If the dependency petition is a supplemental petition, obtain approval from the Program Manager or OCWI Manager prior to contacting the Assistant Attorney General. The Program Manager or OCWI Manager shall participate in the dependency staffing with the Assistant Attorney General for any supplemental petition.

The DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator should provide the following information to the Assistant Attorney General:

  • the allegations against all parents;

  • whether paternity is established for all children included in the petition;

  • if there was a custodial court order, the name of the person who has legal custody of the children;

  • the names of all persons who provided information about the allegations in the petition;

  • whether the people who provided information will be available to testify;

  • medical records, photographs, police reports, or other relevant documents;

  • the status of other children in the home who are not included in the petition;

  • any prior DCS reports on the family;

  • information about other parties who should be included in the petition; and

  • whether the children are subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The DCS Specialist or OWCI Investigator will prepare the Dependency Petition Worksheet and submit to the Attorney General's Office. The DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator will indicate on the Dependency Petition Worksheet whether the Department believes that an aggravating circumstance exists. See Selecting the Permanency Goal.

The DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator will additionally complete the following:

  • Conduct and document an extensive search for missing parents and extended family members or other significant persons as placement resources for the child if applicable. For more information, see Locating Missing Parents & Family for Notification.

  • Amend the petition if new, substantive information about the parents becomes known after the petition has been filed but before adjudication of the petition.

  • Prepare a Report to the Juvenile Court for the Preliminary Protective Hearing and/or Initial Dependency Hearing.

  • Submit the court report to the court no later than the day before the Preliminary Protective Hearing. If the court report is prepared for the Initial Dependency Hearing, submit the court report to the court, the Attorney General's office, and the Foster Care Review Board at least ten days prior to the hearing. See Court Reports for further instructions on attachments and routing of the court report.

  • For the Preliminary Protective Hearing and the Initial Dependency Hearing, the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator must document in the court report to the Juvenile Court and be prepared to communicate to the court, the Department’s efforts to identify and assess out-of-home care for the child with the child’s grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings of whole or half-blood, aunts, uncles, first cousins, and persons having a significant relationship with the child.

  • Complete and route the Parental Assessment Financial Statement as described in Court Reports, under Determining Parental Assessment. Include the recommendation for financial assessment with the court report to the Juvenile Court for Preliminary Protective Hearing and/or Initial Dependency Hearing.

  • Route a copy of any Court Order or Minute Entry addressing parental assessment to the Parental Assessment Coordinator, Site Code CH 010-21. For more Information see Determining Parental Assessment in Court Reports.

  • Route the court report to the Juvenile Court for Preliminary Protective Hearing and/or Initial Dependency Hearing as specified in Court Reports.


Document consultation with the DCS Program Supervisor and DCS Program Manager or OCWI Manager in the Notes Tab designated as Staffing type.

Document consultation with the Attorney General's Office in the Notes Tab. Title the Note AG Contact and designate as AG type.

File a copy of the Dependency Petition, along with any Court Orders or Minute Entries resulting from the Initial Dependency Hearing, in the legal section of the hard copy record.

Document the decision to provide out-of-home care under a dependency by completing the Removal Details and Legal Status Tabs.

Effective Date: September 21, 2021
Revision History: November 30, 2012, February 12, 2016, January 31, 2018, August 3, 2018, June 11, 2019, February 1, 2021