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Grandmother Fights Indiana Department of Child Services for Custody

On the evening of Wednesday, January 8th, 2014, a devastating fire ripped through a Hammond house and took the lives of three young children. The father of the children, Andrew Young, suffered severe injuries. Mr. Young, who was home at the time of the fire, attempted to save his children’s lives. Sadly, however, when firefighters arrived at the scene, Mr. Young was found lying in the snow outside the house with only two surviving children. Firefighters were unable to save the three other children in time due to furniture and other debris blocking the doors.

Mr. Young is currently hospitalized and unable to speak due to severe burns and is unlikely to be released for several months. The mother of the children, Michele Young, is fine. However, Ms. Young has a history of child abuse, including a 2011 conviction for felony child neglect. Indiana Department of Child Services decided to take custody of the two surviving children after they were released from the hospital and placed them into the foster care system. The children are currently being fostered by a friend of the family.

Sarah Pittman, the grandmother of the children, is demanding custody of the children. Ms. Young is currently staying with Ms. Pittman, and they will be appearing in court to gain custody of the two surviving children, Isaiah and Evian, so that they can be reunited with family again. Investigators are currently looking into the cause of the fire but believe it started due to a space heater malfunction. The apartment the Youngs were living in did not have heat or running water.

Indiana Department of Child Services

Indiana Department of Child Services often takes children from their parents or legal guardians when allegations of child abuse or child neglect surface in order to protect the safety and health of the child. Children are placed in homes in the foster network.

The foster care network was designed to provide a safe, stable, and temporary home environment for these children. Care can also be provided by relatives. All non-relative foster parents must undergo licensing every four years, while relatives may be unlicensed.

The average number of days spent in foster care per child was 363 days in 2010. Parents, legal guardians, other relatives, and close friends are permitted to visit the children in the foster care system but must arrange visits through the Family Case Manager.

When children enter the foster system, Indiana Department of Child Services, or DCS, uses a matching process to locate a suitable foster parent, whether it’s a relative or a licensed non-relative foster parent. DCS looks at the age, needs, skill set, and resources required of the foster child, as well as the location of the foster parent.

A hearing is held before a judge to discuss DCS findings on the child abuse or neglect allegations, as well as to discuss where the children should stay. The hearing is usually held shortly after the children are placed in the foster care system. If a family member for whatever reason has not been chosen by DCS as the designated foster parent, that family member may attend the hearing to request that the children stay with them.

Ms. Pittman plans to attend the hearing in order to petition for foster rights of the children.

If you or a loved one’s child has been placed in the foster care system by Indiana Department of Child Services and you want to get them back, please consider contacting Christopher L. Arrington, an experienced Indiana child custody lawyer.

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