Juvenile Law in California requires a number of steps before a minor can be sentenced for a criminal offense. One of the requirements is the preparation of a “social study” that must be made available to the Court prior to disposition. The probation officer must prepare a report and the court must receive that report in evidence when making the disposition. The social study must contain information relevant to disposition, including parole status information and a disposition recommendation. If the probation department recommends placement in foster care or if the court is considering such placement or the child is already in foster care, the social study must include a case plan containing information required by Welf & I C §706.6 (e.g., circumstances leading to removal description of the home in which the child will be placed). According to one Manhattan Beach Juvenile Attorney, each case plan must be completed and filed by the date of disposition or within 60 calendar days of initial removal, whichever occurs first.
The case plan must also include a description of the efforts required to return the child safely home if the probation officer believes that the child will be able to return home through reasonable efforts by the child, the parents or guardian, and the probation officer. The case plan must contain an assessment of the strengths of the child and the foster family and other information required by Welfare & Institutions Code §706.6 if the probation officer believes that foster care placement is the most appropriate disposition for the child. The probation officer must submit copies of the social study to the clerk at least 48 hours before the disposition hearing is scheduled to begin, and the clerk must make the copies available to the parties and attorneys, which is common, says one Juvenile Lawyer in Manhattan Beach. The court must grant a continuance of up to 48 hours on the request of a party who has not been given a copy of the social study as required.
In considering the case plan, the court must find either that the probation officer did or did not solicit and integrate inputs from the following people or entities into the plan: the juvenile, the family, the child’s
tribe, and other interested people. If the court finds that the probation officer did not obtain the required inputs, it must order that the probation officer do so unless each participant was unable or unwilling to participate, or was unavailable. Moreover, when the juvenile is 12 years old or older and in a permanent placement, the court must review the case plan and find that the child either did or did not have the opportunity to review it, sign it, and receive a copy. If the juvenile court finds that the child did not have such an opportunity, it must order the probation officer to see to it that the child does so, unless the child is unable or unwilling to participate, or is unavailable. References Herein Courtesy of Judicial Benchguide.