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Florida child custody: State is removing more kids from homes

Any time a child is removed from their home, trauma occurs. Even in the worst cases of abuse of a child, the removal from a known environment to an unknown environment will be upsetting to a child. South Florida has seen an increase in children removed from their homes due to alleged abuse. It is important to understand why there is an increase in child custody cases so preventive programs can be implemented for the best interests of children.

Children are removed from their homes when child abuse investigators feel the child is in imminent danger of harm. Upon removal the case must be heard by a judge within 24 hours. A decision is then made as to whether the child should remain in custody or return home. Parents or caregivers alleged to have been abusive or neglectful of a child need a voice in this process.

Professionals working within the child and family court system can tell you it is difficult to navigate. In regards to child custody, parents should be represented as well as children. While many cases of abuse exist, not all cases warrant removal of a child from their parents. Moreover, sometimes the abuse allegations are unfounded. Most social workers will agree leaving a child with their parent or caregiver is the most preferable action in appropriate circumstances.

When leaving a child with their parent or caregiver is not always possible, the best interests of the child must be considered foremost in all decisions made by those charged with the child's welfare. Many families in South Florida are currently navigating a difficult system in which child custody laws can be confusing. This process can be daunting to the most formidable adult, and many times a trusted guide is needed to ensure the rights of all parties are protected.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Broward sees rise in number of children removed from homes over abuse concerns," Mike Clary, July 5, 2013

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