Monday, December 10, 2012

New law replaces CHINS statute

Effective November 5, 2012, a newly enacted Massachusetts law, Chapter 240 of the Acts of 2012, entitled, "An Act Regarding Families and Children Engaged in Services "(FACES), replaced the prior "Children in Need of Services" (CHINS) statute. The new law may also be referred to as, "Child Requiring Assistance" (CRA).

The new law will be phased in over a four year period with the first year seeing the implementation of a database that will list resources available for children and families in their own communities. The law changes the former practice of bringing a child in shackles to appear before a court. Now, whenever a child is brought to court or appears in court in response to a notice or summons, the child may not be confined in shackles or similar restraints or court lock-up.

Announcements and information concerning CRA are available from a number of sources. The Governor’s Office recently issued a press release outlining changes that will be implemented under the new law. The Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts has announced the new law on its website and plans to supplement the announcement by adding materials to its website over time. The Massachusetts Bar Association Juvenile and Child Welfare Section has sponsored a free on-line "legal Chat" presentation concerning the law. The hour-long session is free for MBA and non-MBA members, although registration is required. Information is available on the MBA website.

In addition to the above, the Massachusetts Trial Court Juvenile Court Administrative Office has made available a "Handbook for Parents, Legal Guardians, and Custodians in Child Requiring Assistance Cases".