The purpose of the voluntary Child In Need Of Services (CHINS) program is to preserve and strengthen families in conflict. Therefore, prior to any petition being filed with the court there must be efforts demonstrating whether appropriate voluntary services have been attempted, the nature of voluntary services attempted, and the reason court compulsion is necessary.
The CHINS process is two-fold: Voluntary Services and Court Ordered Services.
Referral for Voluntary Services: Is the first step in the CHINS process and it is to initiate an assessment & brief interventions, which are short-term interactions between DCYF staff and the family requesting services. The services are directed towards de-escalating the immediate crisis, defining the goals of the family seeking services, and exploring options to meet those goals.
A. When it is determined the family would benefit from and agrees to services beyond the assessment and brief intervention, the Division through a Juvenile Probation and Parole Officer (JPPO) may provide additional services based on unique needs of the family. The Division can provide an array of community-based services that may consist of in-home community-based crisis and non-crisis interventions as deemed appropriate by the family and the agency.
B. Families eligible for services are those who meet the definition of CHINS, including Truancy or Runaway consistent with RSA169-D, where the crisis continues and the family is seeking a brief intervention to address conflict or is requesting an assessment to file a CHINS petition.
Families may access a voluntary assessment and interventions through the DCYF Central Intake Unit.
DCYF Intake Process:
• Intake will accept a referral for voluntary CHINS for any youth when parents, law enforcement, DCYF or school staff identify that at least one person in the family is voluntarily requesting services and he or she is requesting services to address CHINS behaviors consistent with RSA 169-D.
• A CHINS referral once accepted will be forwarded to the local district office where the youth and family reside.
DCYF should attempt to contact a parent within 72 hours of receipt of the referral, excluding weekends and holidays. The Juvenile Probation and Parole Officer may make this initial contact by telephone.
The initial face-face contact with the family should occur within 5 business days of the referral if at all possible. During initial engagement, the JPPO will begin to assess the youth and family for voluntary services.
The JPPO shall prioritize families requesting services with the highest level of family conflict or instability and the greatest amount of family participation with services.
At least one parent and the youth must make a commitment to participate in services.
A family assessment for a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) in an effort to assist a family experiencing on-going family crisis due to conflict where a youth is exhibiting Truant or run away behaviors consistent with RSA169-D
The range of services provided is designed to help families find solutions by developing skills and supports to maintain the family unit. Service delivery begins with the least intensive, least intrusive intervention appropriate in the individual case circumstance. Services are voluntary, family-focused, and rely on the family’s participation.
The parents, youth and the Division will develop a service plan and CHINS agreement. An agreement is like a contract. The child and his or her parent meets with the Juvenile Probation and Parole Officer (JPPO) to determine what temporary services or rules can be put in place to help alleviate the situation that led to the CHINS. The parent(s) and youth will be asked to sign a voluntary agreement which will outline the agreed upon services and conditions. Typical CHINS agreements include conditions like attending school daily without incident, coming home by a set curfew, attending counseling, treating family members and other people with respect. The agreement will outline the services and expected participation with services to which all parties agree. The agreement will also outline the length of time services are available, which will not exceed (9) months.
If at any time, prior to the nine months, it is determined by the parents or youth that they no longer wish to engage in voluntary services, or if the Division determines the youth or family is not cooperating, the voluntary service case will close.
Cost of Services:
Although services are initially available at no cost to the family, the department shall request reimbursement for such expenses from parents or other people chargeable by law for the minor’s support and shall request assignment to the state of any insurance benefits that may be available to pay for all or a portion of the services provided.
The Department shall require parents or guardians to submit a financial statement annually upon which the department shall seek reimbursement to the state as may be reasonable and just, based on the person’s ability to pay.
If at any time a voluntary services case is closed due to a youth’s lack of participation or services have been unsuccessful for 9 months, a petition may be filed with the court to determine if court intervention may better serve the youth and family.