Juvenile Dependency

Juvenile Dependency actions involve alleged abuse or neglect of a child by a parent or caregiver.

  • The goal of these proceedings is to protect children and preserve or reunify families whenever possible.
  • Initially, the court must decide whether the allegations of child abuse or neglect are true and whether the child should be removed from the home and made a "dependent" of the court.  
  • When it is not in the child's best interest to return the child the child's parents, the goal is to provide a permanent placement for the child with a relative, guardian, foster family, or adoptive parent.

For an overview of what happens in a dependency proceeding, please refer to the following:  The Dependency Court – How It Works.

Substance Abuse Programs

Through a collaboration between the court and other community partners, the following programs are available for parents of dependent children:

  • Drug treatment for parents who have substance abuse problems.
  • Dependency Drug Court for parents who need extra monitoring by the court to stay clean and sober.

The community partners involved with these programs include: Health and Human Services Agency; Alcohol and Drug Services; County Counsel; and Dependency Legal Services of San Diego.

Dependency Drug Court sessions are held in Department 8 at the Meadow Lark courthouse on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. and in Department 20 at the Vista courthouse on Fridays at 9:30 a.m.

Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

CASAs are volunteers who help the court and social workers determine how best to help dependent children and nonminor dependents. They are recruited, trained, and supervised by a private agency, Voices for Children, which has offices in each of the regional courthouses and at the main Juvenile Court.