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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Intervention Hearing


In intervention cases, DSS files a petition with the court seeking the authority to intervene and provide protective services to the family as part of a treatment plan, which will include treatment goals that the defendants must achieve.  In this type of case, the child has not been removed from the home.  DSS believes that the child is safe to remain in the home or in the home of a relative; for example, with custody remaining with the parent.  DSS may or may not have been working with the family pursuant to a non-court ordered treatment plan.

The order includes a date by which the defendants are required to achieve treatment goals and court jurisdiction ends, unless the court requires that the matter be brought back to court for review before closing the case, which shall not exceed 18 months.  However, any party may file a motion to extend jurisdiction if the party proves there is clear and convincing evidence that the child is threatened with harm absent continuation of services. § 63-7-1670.

Quick View

  • Determine whether the child is abused or neglected and whether intervention is necessary to protect the child from further harm. § 63-7-1650(A).
  • Must be scheduled within 35 days of the filing of the intervention petition. § 63-7-1650(C).
  • Parties, including non custodial parents, must be served with summons, complaint and notices of right to counsel and hearing date and time at least 72 hours prior to hearing. § 63-7-1650(D).
  • The court may authorize service by publication if DSS has difficulty serving the parties and may waive the 35 days requirement when necessary for DSS to successfully serve the parties. § 63-7-1650(D).
  • No responsive pleading is required and a party may waive service or appear voluntarily at the hearing. § 63-7-1650(D).
  • The burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence.
  • If ICWA applies, there must be clear and convincing evidence.
  • Review hearings must be scheduled by DSS at least every 12 months, unless services are to terminate earlier, to determine if conditions that required initial intervention exist. § 63-7-1670(B).

Hearing Checklist

  • Determine timeliness of hearing.
    • Must be scheduled within 35 days of the filing of the intervention petition. § 63-7-1650(C).
  • Explain purpose of hearing.
  • Identify parties and other persons present.
  • Ensure proper service and notice to necessary parties.
  • Advise parties of their rights
  • Appoint counsel and GAL, as needed.
  • Determine child’s citizenship.
  • Determine if the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies. If applicable,
    • See ICWA checklist.
    • DSS must notify the Indian child's parent and the Indian tribe that DSS has initiated a child protection proceeding. §1912(a).
    • DSS shall not schedule any family court hearing until at least ten days have elapsed following the party's receipt of notice. 25 U.S.C.A. §1912(a).
    • An indigent Indian parent is entitled to an appointed attorney. 25 U.S.C.A. §1912(b).
  • Address the need for interpreters.
  • Review petition and ensure compliance with § 63-7-1650(B). The petition must fully describe why DSS believes intervention is necessary to protect the child and must include:
    • a description of the child’s condition;
    • previous efforts by DSS to work with the parent or guardian;
    • treatment programs which have been offered and proved inadequate; and
    • the parent’s attitude towards intervention and protective services.
  • Review and approve treatment plan. §63-7-1670(A).
    • Resolve any disputes regarding the plan.
    • Order changes to the plan as needed.
  • Make required determinations and findings.
  • Ensure order requirements are met.
  • Whether the allegations in the petition are supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
    • See South Carolina DSS v. Scott K., 668 S.E. 2d 425 (S.C. 2008). Court of Appeals reversed family court order granting DSS’s request to order parents to comply with a treatment plan. The Court held a preponderance of the evidence did not support the allegations in the DSS petition that the children were abused or neglected and that the children could not be protected from harm without intervention. DSS found a cluttered home but its investigation failed to substantiate any of the reported allegations. DSS erred in equating marginal housekeeping skills with neglect. The family court can order intervention and protective services only after it finds the allegations of the DSS petition requesting intervention are supported by a preponderance of the evidence that the child is abused or neglected and the child cannot be protected from further harm without intervention.
  • Whether the child is abused or neglected as defined by § 63-7-20.
  • Whether the child can be protected from further harm without intervention.
  • Prior to ordering intervention and protective services, the court must find:
    • the allegations of the petition are supported by a preponderance of the evidence;
    • the child is abused or neglected; and
    • child cannot be protected from further harm without intervention. § 63-7-1650(E).
  • Withholding of health care. § 63-7-950.
    • The court may authorize treatment, but not enter a finding of abuse by the parent, in cases where the caregiver failed to obtain medical care due to religious beliefs or an exercise of parental judgment concerning what treatment would be in the child’s best interests.
  • Central Registry. § 63-7-1940.
    • If the court finds a defendant physically or sexually abused or willfully or recklessly neglected the child, the court must order defendant’s name be entered in the DSS Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect and this requirement cannot be waived by the court or any party.
    • However, if the only form of physical abuse found by the court is excessive corporal punishment, the court only may order the person’s name be entered in the Central Registry if the nature and circumstances of the abuse indicate the person would present a significant risk of committing physical or sexual abuse or willful or reckless neglect if in a position or setting outside the person’s home that involves care of or substantial contact with children.
  • The treatment plan must be prepared by DSS and submitted at the intervention hearing; if changes in the plan are ordered, DSS must submit revised plan to the court within 2 weeks and provide the parties and attorneys with copies. § 63-7-1670(B).
    • The plan must be prepared when possible, with participation of the parents, the child, and other involved service providers.
  • The plan must contain a detailed description of:
    • changes in parental behavior or home conditions that must be made to eliminate the risk of harm to the child; and
    • services that DSS will provide to the family, including referrals to other service providers.
  • The terms of the treatment plan must be included. § 63-7-1670(B).
  • Must specify a date when treatment goals must be achieved and jurisdiction ends, unless the court specifically finds that the matter must be brought back before the court for further review before the case may be closed. § 63-7-1670(B).
  • Must specify a time limit for holding the next hearing if further court review before case closure is ordered. § 63-7-1670(B).
  • Must set a specific date when the court’s jurisdiction will terminate automatically, not to exceed 18 months after the initial intervention. § 63-7-1670(C)(2).
    • Jurisdiction may be extended pursuant to a hearing on any party’s motion, if the court finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that the child is threatened with harm unless the services continues.  

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