Learn about the Child Requiring Assistance case process

Find out what happens after you receive notice that a Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) Application has been filed and what the court process will be like.

Table of Contents

Notice & summons

Once someone files a CRA application, a notice that the application has been filed and the date for the preliminary hearing will be sent to: 

Non-custodial parents will be notified if a CRA application has been filed as long as their parental rights have not been terminated.

If the clerk determines that your child is unlikely to come to court after receiving the preliminary hearing notice, the clerk may issue a summons for the child to come to the preliminary hearing. If your child does not come to the preliminary hearing after receiving the notice, the court will issue a summons. The court will send a copy of the summons to the child’s parent, legal guardian, or custodian. Notice will also be sent to the child’s parent, legal guardian, or custodian if they did not file the application.

Warrant of Protective Custody

If your child does not come to the preliminary hearing after receiving the summons, the judge may issue a Warrant of Protective Custody. A Warrant of Protective Custody orders a law enforcement officer / police officer to pick up your child and bring them to the court for a hearing. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to release your child to you or to put your child in DCF custody for 15 days. The order may be extended twice for a total of 45 days. The probation office will make an immediate inquiry for a recommendation during the preliminary hearing.

If you or a member of your family have American Indian or Native American heritage, you must let the Clerk-Magistrate’s office know. The tribe must be notified if the court intends to give someone else custody over your objection.

Immediate inquiry

A probation officer will interview you and your child about information in the CRA application. The court will appoint an attorney for your child. The court may appoint an attorney to represent you if the court finds that you are unable to pay for your own attorney based on income information you provide to the court. The court will only appoint an attorney to represent you if the judge considers removing your child from your custody. 

Preliminary hearing

CRA cases are confidential and closed to the public. Parents, attorneys representing the parties, the probation officer, a clerk who will record the hearing, and the judge may all be at the court hearing. 

At the hearing, the probation officer will make one of 3 recommendations:

  1. That the court should dismiss the case for lack of “probable cause,” or
  2. That the court should refer the child and parent with their agreement to a probation officer for informal assistance, or 
  3. That the court should accept the Application for CRA and schedule the fact-finding hearing

If the case is dismissed, the judge will issue an expungement order which requires the clerk to destroy all of the papers in the court's files related to the case and any records that may exist at the Department of Criminal Justice.


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