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Superior Court of California - County of San Diego: Juvenile: Juvenile Dependency

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 determine 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 to his or her 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:  Guide to Dependency Court and 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 include: Health and Human Services Agency; Alcohol and Drug Services; County Counsel; the Dependency Legal Group of San Diego.

Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

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


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