Predisposition reports should be changed to contain detailed information about the child’s history of Department of Child Services involvement, including dispositions that involved the child. The predisposition reports are confidential and are prepared as an aid to the court and parties prior to the disposition hearing and provide extensive information about the child and the family. Other confidential information is already included, such as diagnostic evaluations and school history information. The current form just notes whether the parent, guardian, and/or custodian has a history of CHINS involvement with little detail, and nothing is noted about whether that involvement included the child.
Both the child’s mental health and school performance, as well as an increased likelihood that they will be in the juvenile delinquency system, can be impacted by whether the child was abused or neglected, and particularly whether the child was placed in foster care. See these articles for more — Doyle, Lawrence, Fowler.
If the child is a “CHINS 6” — someone who is harming themselves or others — the court may have placed the child out of the home into residential placement or mental health facilities, which are often those used for juvenile delinquents also. That information would prevent the court from trying paths that have already been taken.
Admittedly, the juvenile court may be familiar with this CHINS history if the child’s entire history is in one county. In many counties there is one juvenile court that handles both CHINS and delinquency cases. However, that history should be part of the juvenile delinquency record and a formal part of the disposition process and any appellate review.