Know Your Rights


Even while your child is under DCFS custody and your case is open, you are still their parent in the eyes of the law, and you maintain parental rights. Importantly, you hold your child’s education and medical rights – this means you have the right to make most educational and medical decisions for your child.

These rights may only be limited or terminated if: 1) Your child is in a legal guardianship, 2) Your child has been freed for adoption (parental rights have been terminated), or 3) the juvenile court has explicitly restricted your parental rights, at which point a surrogate will be appointed.

Visitation Rights

If your child is placed in out-of-home care, you are entitled to regular telephone contact with your child, as long as that contact is not detrimental to your child. If it is safe for the child, in-person visits will be arranged according to your Family Visitation Plan, as ordered by the Juvenile Dependency Court.

If more than one of your children needs to be placed out-of-home, DCFS will work to keep siblings together. This is both easier for parents and takes less of an emotional toll on children if they are able to remain with their brothers and sisters.

Medical Decision-Making

You hold your child’s medical rights and have the right to make medical decisions for your child. You will be contacted if your child experiences any major illness or injuries. No medical intervention can be made without your consent. By signing the form DCFS 179, you can give DCFS permission to seek general medical care for your child when needed.

Educational Decision-Making

You hold your child’s educational rights and have the right to make educational decisions for your child. Your child can continue going to their school of origin and cannot be moved to a new school without your consent.

Your child’s social worker and educational providers are required to ensure that your child feels safe, comfortable, and is successful in his/her/their academic pursuits. Your child has the right to the same educational opportunities as all students, consistent with their age and developmental level.

Your child’s rights include:

  1. 1. A stable schooling placement that is the least restrictive for them.
  2. Access to academic resources, services, extracurricular, cultural, and enrichment activities.
  3. Opportunity to attend school regularly with minimal disruption.
  4. Enrollment at their school-of-origin following a change in their residence if you so choose.
  5. Enrollment in a school with their peers

Your child’s caretaker is responsible for getting them to school.

Several options are available to help transport your child to their school-of-origin: Their caregiver can receive a reimbursement to transport them; they can be issued a bus pass or tap card, if appropriate; or, their school district-of-origin can accommodate them through existing school bus routes. If none of these options are available, arrangements can be made to transport your child via a child-friendly private car service.

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Child Protection Hotline

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Toll Free within California

(800) 540-4000

Outside of California

(213) 639-4500

TDD - Hearing Imparied

(800) 272-6699