Skip to Main ContentGo to Overview Page of Juvenile Court: Dependency Hearings
[Part 1]    [Part 2]    [Part 3] 

§2.04 Preliminary Joint Assessment

[1] Hearing on Assessment
[2] Educational Needs
[3] Dual Status
[4] Health Care Needs

[5] Modifying Jurisdiction

[1] Hearing on Assessment

Child welfare services and the probation department must prepare a joint assessment pursuant to local protocols when it appears that a child comes within the description to be either a dependent or a ward of the court. You must hold a hearing on the assessment to determine which status will serve the child’s best interest and protect society. [WIC §241.1(a), (b); CRC 5.512(a), (d), (i).] Except when there is a written protocol for dual status children, a minor cannot simultaneously be both a dependent and a ward. [WIC §241.1(d).]

The protocols must contain [WIC §241.1(b)(3)]:

  • A process for determining which agency and court must supervise a child whose jurisdiction is modified from delinquency to dependency under WIC §607.2(b)(2) or §727.2(i);
  • A process for determining which agency and court must supervise a nonminor dependent under the juvenile court’s transition jurisdiction; and
  • A process that addresses the manner in which supervision responsibility is determined when a nonminor dependent becomes subject to adult probation.


If a child is detained, you must hold the hearing concurrent with, or as soon as possible after, the detention hearing, but no later than 15 court days after the detention order. If the child is not detained, hold the hearing before the jurisdiction hearing and within 30 days of the petition date. [CRC 5.512(e).]

At the joint assessment hearing, one appellate court has held that there is no federal due process right to present evidence and to cross-examine witnesses and the preparers of the joint assessment report. [In re Henry S. (2006) 140 CA4th 248, 259.]

Your conclusion as to whether dependency or wardship status is preferable for a minor controls over a joint recommendation of the probation and child welfare departments. [D.M. v Superior Court (2009) 173 CA4th 1117, 11251126.]

[2] Educational Needs

Throughout dependency proceedings, including at a joint assessment hearing, you should inquire about the child’s educational needs and the progress to enforce the child’s educational rights; and ensure that the child’s needs are met for a stable school placement in the least restrictive educational environment; and ensure that the child has access to the academic resources, services, and activities available to other students. [CRC 5.651.] You must ensure that the social worker’s report for the hearing specifically addresses, to the extent that information is available, all criteria regarding the child’s education rights needs listed in CRC 5.651(c).

You should determine who holds the educational rights for the child at the initial hearing, and which school, if any, the child is enrolled in and attending. [CRC 5.651.] If you determine that the child is not attending the child’s school of origin, you should consider whether the child was not properly afforded the right to attend the school of origin. [CRC 5.651(b).]

You may also limit the educational rights of the parent or guardian, when appropriate. [CRC 5.534(j), 5.650; form JV-535.] See further discussion in §3.11.

[3] Dual Status

The child welfare service and probation departments may jointly assess and recommend that a child be designated a dual status child if the departments and your presiding judge have created a jointly written protocol for the process. [WIC §241.1(e).] For example, in such a county, dependency jurisdiction may be suspended or put on hold while the dual status child is subject to jurisdiction as a ward of the court. The protocol must ensure a seamless transition from wardship to dependency jurisdiction so that services to the child are not disrupted on termination of wardship. [See WIC §366.5.]

[4] Health Care Needs

If a child is placed into foster care, you should ensure that the department develops a plan for the ongoing oversight and coordination of health care services for the child. The plan must incorporate consultation with health care experts, including pediatricians, public health nurses, and experts in, and recipients of, child welfare services, including parents, and ensure a coordinated strategy to identify and respond to the child’s health care needs, including mental health and dental needs. [WIC §16010.2.]

[5] Modifying Jurisdiction

Whenever you determine that it is necessary to modify jurisdiction over a dependent or ward who was removed from his or her parent or guardian and placed in foster care, you must ensure that certain conditions are met, including that [WIC §241.1(f)]:

  • The petition under which jurisdiction was taken when the dependent or ward was originally removed is not dismissed until the new petition has been sustained.
  • The order modifying jurisdiction refers to the original removal findings, and a statement that findings that continuation in the home is contrary to the child's welfare, and that reasonable efforts were made to prevent removal, remain in effect.
  • The order includes a statement that the child continues to be removed from the parent or guardian from whom the child was removed under the original petition.
  • The order identifies the agency that is responsible for placement and care based on the modification of jurisdiction.
Tip How Would You Rule?

Previous Page

© 2006 by Judicial Council of California
updated as of January 1, 2012