Child Welfare cases include cases labeled “CINA” or Child in Need of Assistance, “VPP” or Voluntary Placement Petitions and “TPR” or Termination of Parental Rights. These cases are filed in the name of a minor child, and not open to the public. Only the child, parent, representative of the Department of Social Services, attorneys for these parties and court personnel may view these files or be present at a hearing in these cases, except with the permission of a judge.
Children who are the subject (“respondent”) in these cases are always entitled to an attorney.
CINA and TPR cases are usually initiated by the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, based on the alleged abuse or neglect of a child. If you are a parent of a child who is the subject of a CINA or TPR proceeding, you may be entitled to representation by the Office of the Public Defender, until that child turns 18 or your parental rights are terminated.
VPP cases are initiated by the Department of Social Services upon the voluntary petition of a parent who is unable to meet the extraordinary medical needs of a child. In these cases, a parent is not entitled to representation by the Office of the Public Defender, but has the right to be present for all proceedings. The parent does not give up all custodial rights, but grants limited custody to the Department of Social Services for the purpose of obtaining medical care, and sometimes education assistance.
For more information, contact the Prince George's County Department of Social Services on the Prince George's County government website.