Juvenile Dependency Court can have a significant impact on the lives and futures of children and families. In most cases, a dependency case comes to court shortly after a child has been removed from their home by the police or a social worker from the Children & Families Services Department. The police or social worker may remove a child from their home if they have a reason to believe the child is not safe, or if there is a credible threat against the safety and well-being of the child.
The court’s authority for dependency cases is found within the California Welfare and Institutions Code. (WIC § 300 et seq.)
The court tries to keep children with their families and make the families stronger. However, if warranted, the court may place a child apart from the parent(s) for the sake of the child’s well-being and safety.
If the court places a minor outside the home, the court will work with the family and the child to improve home conditions so that the child can move back home. This process is called "Family Reunification."
If the court places a child away from the family, the court will make sure that someone responsible has custody of the child. The court will take steps to ensure that the child gets the care and discipline they need to be safe and protected.
When to Appear in Court
If your child has been taken into protective custody, you will be notified to appear in court by a social worker. The social worker will try to contact you in-person or over the telephone and provide you with a date and time to appear at the courthouse.
If your children are taken into protective custody, and you are not aware of the circumstances, you may call the San Bernardino County Children & Family Services Department Hotline at 1 (800) 827-8724.
Note: The dress code at Juvenile Court is strictly enforced. Shorts, tank tops, undershirts worn without a shirt, gang attire and or bare feet will not be allowed in the courtroom. All bags, purses, backpacks, etc. are subject to search by security prior to entering the courtroom. All persons entering the courthouse will be electronically screened for weapons.
When parents arrive at Juvenile Dependency Court, they must sign in at the “Superior Court” Clerk’s window. In addition, the parents and children must check in with the Children & Family Services staff to receive your report for the court hearing.
If a parent has retained an attorney, please inform the clerk at the window and the bailiff in the courtroom. The court will appoint an attorney to represent the children. If the family cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for your child and each parent. There may be a hearing to determine your financial responsibility for attorney's fees.
The attorney will discuss the petition with their client. If you have any questions, please discuss them with your attorney.
Because of the confidentiality of all Juvenile matters, the court will only call one case into the courtroom at a time. Therefore, the wait to go into the courtroom may be lengthy. It is best NOT to bring small children with you to court, unless the court or attorney has specifically requested to have the child present for the court hearing.
Note: There is a waiting room provided by the Children and Family Services Department, however, it is only for those children that have a court case on calendar.
Photo identification is required when any information regarding a case is requested.