“Dependency” involving you and your child or children is a complicated area of law. I will be setting forth general information about this to help explain the law and process; DO NOT RELY OR ACT UPON THIS INFORMATION ON YOUR OWN-CONACT ME AS AN ATTORNEY WITH A HIGH CONCENTRATION AND EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA AS I AM IN JUVENILE DEPENDENCY COURT ALMOST DAILY

It is best to first review the actual law which is contained in the Juvenile Act set forth as follows: the first section deals with a Delinquent Child and the second with a “Dependent Child”—see where this phrase is highlighted below.
“42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6301
Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes Currentness
Title 42 Pa.C.S.A. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure (Refs & Annos)
Part VI. Actions, Proceedings and Other Matters Generally
Chapter 63. Juvenile Matters (Refs & Annos)
Subchapter A. General Provisions (Refs & Annos)
§ 6301. Short title and purposes of chapter

(a) Short title.–This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Juvenile Act.”

(b) Purposes.–This chapter shall be interpreted and construed as to effectuate the following purposes:

(1) To preserve the unity of the family whenever possible or to provide another alternative permanent family when the unity of the family cannot be maintained.

(1.1) To provide for the care, protection, safety and wholesome mental and physical development of children coming within the provisions of this chapter.

(2) Consistent with the protection of the public interest, to provide for children committing delinquent acts programs of supervision, care and rehabilitation which provide balanced attention to the protection of the community, the imposition of accountability for offenses committed and the development of competencies to enable children to become responsible and productive members of the community.

(3) To achieve the foregoing purposes in a family environment whenever possible, separating the child from parents only when necessary for his welfare, safety or health or in the interests of public safety.

(4) To provide means through which the provisions of this chapter are executed and enforced and in which the parties are assured a fair hearing and their constitutional and other legal rights recognized and enforced.

CREDIT(S)

1976, July 9, P.L. 586, No. 142, § 2, effective June 27, 1978. Amended 1995, Nov. 17, P.L. 1127, No. 33 (Spec. Sess. No. 1), § 2, effective in 120 days; 1998, Dec. 15, P.L. 949, No. 126, § 3, effective Jan. 1, 1999.
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6302
Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes Currentness
Title 42 Pa.C.S.A. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure (Refs & Annos)
Part VI. Actions, Proceedings and Other Matters Generally
Chapter 63. Juvenile Matters (Refs & Annos)
Subchapter A. General Provisions (Refs & Annos)
§ 6302. Definitions

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:

“Aggravated circumstances.” Any of the following circumstances:

(1) The child is in the custody of a county agency and either:

(i) the identity or whereabouts of the parents is unknown and cannot be ascertained and the parent does not claim the child within three months of the date the child was taken into custody; or

(ii) the identity or whereabouts of the parents is known and the parents have failed to maintain substantial and continuing contact with the child for a period of six months.

(2) The child or another child of the parent has been the victim of physical abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, sexual violence or aggravated physical neglect by the parent.

(3) The parent of the child has been convicted of any of the following offenses where the victim was a child:

(i) criminal homicide under 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 25 (relating to criminal homicide);

(ii) a felony under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (relating to aggravated assault), 3121 (relating to rape), 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault), 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse), 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault) or 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).

(iii) A misdemeanor under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault).

(iv) An equivalent crime in another jurisdiction.

(4) The attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of the offenses set forth in paragraph (3).

(5) The parental rights of the parent have been involuntarily terminated with respect to a child of the parent.

“Aggravated physical neglect.” Any omission in the care of a child which results in a life-threatening condition or seriously impairs the child’s functioning.

“Assessment.” An individualized examination of a child to determine the child’s psychosocial needs and problems, including the type and extent of any mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders and recommendations for treatment. The term includes, but is not limited to, a drug and alcohol, psychological and psychiatric evaluation, records review, clinical interview and the administration of a formal test and instrument.

“Board.” The State Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.

“Child.” An individual who:

(1) is under the age of 18 years;

(2) is under the age of 21 years who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 18 years; or

(3) was adjudicated dependent before reaching the age of 18 years and who, while engaged in a course of instruction or treatment, requests the court to retain jurisdiction until the course has been completed, but in no event shall a child remain in a course of instruction or treatment past the age of 21 years.

“County agency.” The term as defined in 23 Pa.C.S. § 6303 (relating to definitions).

“Court.” The court of common pleas.

“Court-appointed special advocate” or “CASA.” An individual appointed by the court to participate as an advocate for a child who is dependent or alleged to be dependent.

“Custodian.” A person other than a parent or legal guardian, who stands in loco parentis to the child, or a person to whom legal custody of the child has been given by order of a court.

“Delinquent act.”

(1) The term means an act designated a crime under the law of this Commonwealth, or of another state if the act occurred in that state, or under Federal law, or under local ordinances or an act which constitutes indirect criminal contempt under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to protection from abuse).

(2) The term shall not include:

(i) The crime of murder.

(ii) Any of the following prohibited conduct where the child was 15 years of age or older at the time of the alleged conduct and a deadly weapon as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2301 (relating to definitions) was used during the commission of the offense, which, if committed by an adult, would be classified as:

(A) Rape as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating to rape).

(B) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).

(C) Aggravated assault as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702(a)(1) or (2) (relating to aggravated assault).

(D) Robbery as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3701(a)(1)(i), (ii) or (iii) (relating to robbery).

(E) Robbery of motor vehicle as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3702 (relating to robbery of motor vehicle).

(F) Aggravated indecent assault as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).

(G) Kidnapping as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2901 (relating to kidnapping).

(H) Voluntary manslaughter.

(I) An attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder or any of these crimes, as provided in 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 901 (relating to criminal attempt), 902 (relating to criminal solicitation) and 903 (relating to criminal conspiracy).

(iii) Any of the following prohibited conduct where the child was 15 years of age or older at the time of the alleged conduct and has been previously adjudicated delinquent of any of the following prohibited conduct which, if committed by an adult, would be classified as:

(A) Rape as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3121.

(B) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123.

(C) Robbery as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3701(a)(1)(i), (ii) or (iii).

(D) Robbery of motor vehicle as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3702.

(E) Aggravated indecent assault as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3125.

(F) Kidnapping as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2901.

(G) Voluntary manslaughter.

(H) An attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit murder or any of these crimes as provided in 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 901, 902 and 903.

(iv) Summary offenses, unless the child fails to comply with a lawful sentence imposed thereunder, in which event notice of such fact shall be certified to the court.

(v) A crime committed by a child who has been found guilty in a criminal proceeding for other than a summary offense.

“Delinquent child.” A child ten years of age or older whom the court has found to have committed a delinquent act and is in need of treatment, supervision or rehabilitation.

“Dependent child.” A child who: (emphasis added)

(1) is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for his physical, mental, or emotional health, or morals. A determination that there is a lack of proper parental care or control may be based upon evidence of conduct by the parent, guardian or other custodian that places the health, safety or welfare of the child at risk, including evidence of the parent’s, guardian’s or other custodian’s use of alcohol or a controlled substance that places the health, safety or welfare of the child at risk;

(2) has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law;

(3) has been abandoned by his parents, guardian, or other custodian;

(4) is without a parent, guardian, or legal custodian;

(5) while subject to compulsory school attendance is habitually and without justification truant from school;

(6) has committed a specific act or acts of habitual disobedience of the reasonable and lawful commands of his parent, guardian or other custodian and who is ungovernable and found to be in need of care, treatment or supervision;

(7) is under the age of ten years and has committed a delinquent act;

(8) has been formerly adjudicated dependent, and is under the jurisdiction of the court, subject to its conditions or placements and who commits an act which is defined as ungovernable in paragraph (6);

(9) has been referred pursuant to section 6323 (relating to informal adjustment), and who commits an act which is defined as ungovernable in paragraph (6); or

(10) is born to a parent whose parental rights with regard to another child have been involuntarily terminated under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511 (relating to grounds for involuntary termination) within three years immediately preceding the date of birth of the child and conduct of the parent poses a risk to the health, safety or welfare of the child.

“Facility designed or operated for the benefit of delinquent children.” A facility that either identifies itself by charter, articles of incorporation or program description as solely for delinquent children.

“Protective supervision.” Supervision ordered by the court of children found to be dependent.

“Screening.” A process, regardless of whether it includes the administration of a formal instrument, that is designed to identify a child who is at increased risk of having mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders that warrant immediate attention, intervention or more comprehensive assessment.

“Serious bodily injury.” Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

“Sexual violence.” Rape, indecent contact as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3101 (relating to definitions), incest or using, causing, permitting, persuading or coercing the child to engage in a prohibited sexual act as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6312(a) (relating to sexual abuse of children) or a simulation of a prohibited sexual act for the purpose of photographing, videotaping, depicting on computer or filming involving the child.

“Shelter care.” Temporary care of a child in physically unrestricted facilities. A facility approved by the Department of Public Welfare to provide shelter care may be located in the same building as a facility approved to provide secure detention services provided that children receiving shelter care services are segregated from the children receiving secure detention services as required by the department.

CREDIT(S)

1976, July 9, P.L. 586, No. 142, § 2, effective June 27, 1978. Amended 1978, April 28, P.L. 202, No. 53, § 22, effective June 27, 1978; 1986, Dec. 11, P.L. 1521, No. 165, § 4, effective in 60 days; 1995, March 15, P.L. 972, No. 6 (Spec. Sess. No. 1), § 1, effective in 60 days; 1995, Nov. 17, P.L. 1127, No. 33 (Spec. Sess. No. 1), § 3, effective in 120 days; 1998, June 18, P.L. 640, No. 84, § 2, effective in 60 days; 1998, Dec. 15, P.L. 949, No. 126, § 4, effective Jan. 1, 1999; 1998, Dec. 15, P.L. 978, No. 128, § 1, effective in 60 days; 2000, Dec. 20, P.L. 946, No. 129, § 1, effective in 60 days; 2003, Aug. 14, P.L. 97, No. 21, § 1, effective Feb. 10, 2004; 2008, Oct. 9, P.L. 1396, No. 109, § 1, effective in 60 days [Dec. 8, 2008].”

Yes, it is complicated. So, let’s start with the actual process of declaring a child dependent.
In each county, there exists a a “child welfare” agency; it may be called “Children and Youth” or “Child Protectives Services”. For simplicity, I will refer to these county agencies simply as the “Agency”.
The process starts with a “report” being received by the Agency. It could be a simple phone call, written or electronically filed with the “Child Hotline”.
There are “mandatory reporters” which include attorneys, doctors, police and so on. If they believe there is any evidence of “abuse” they MUST report it. They do not decide if it exists—they report it.
No matter how the report comes into the Agency, it is required to investigate the report.
The Agency will go to the house of the child and determine if the problem can be resolved without court action or will require court action. If the agency informs you it will be investigating your home and family it is best you call me immediately at 484-509-2559.
Parents should cooperate but at this point there is no requirement to allow the Agency into your home. Unless of course there has been an allegation of serious neglect or abuse and the agency has obtained an “emergency order” to take custody of the child(ren).
Once the Agency has investigated it can: find nothing is “wrong”; find that some services need to be put in place to remediate a problem (such as cleaning the home properly); or file with the court for an emergency order to take custody of a child.
In this situation, the Agency caseworker will arrive with the police to enforce the court order. Never ignore or fail to comply with a court order or interfere with the police performing their mandatory duty.