CHIPS in Minnesota: Basic information for parents

CHIPS, or child in need of protection services, cases are designed to help provide services to children who are in dangerous situations. Knowing the basics of how these cases work in Minnesota can help ease the process.

CHIPS, or Child in Need of Protection or Services, cases are intended to help remove children from dangerous situations or provide services the family needs. When in this situation, it is wise for parents, guardians and others who care for the children who are in need of assistance to have a basic understanding of how the CHIPS process works.

Generally, CHIPS cases are initiated when there is concern that children are in immediate danger or are with a parent who is not cooperating with Human Services. Such cases often begin with an investigation conducted by the county's Child Protection unit. Based on information gathered during the investigation, a petition for the removal of the child from the home may be filed with the juvenile court.

Important legal terms used in CHIPS cases

Various legal terms are used during these proceedings, and one distinction that plays a key role in the process is the difference between a "party" and a "participant." According to the Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Protection Procedure, a "party" has the right to be fully involved in the case. The custodial parent, legal custodian and guardian as well as the person or social service agent who filed the petition may be "parties". In contrast, a "participant" has the right to more limited involvement and may include foster parents, relatives and noncustodial parents. Though both parties and participants receive copies of the petition and notices for all hearings, only parties can bring motions, argue in support of or against the petition and participate in settlement discussions and agreements.

Other important terms involve the various forms of abuse that can be alleged. Physical abuse is probably the most well-known allegation and refers to forms of abuse that physically injure the child. These cases may also involve allegations of sexual or emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is defined as the "consistent or deliberate infliction of mental harm on a child" that leads to an "observable, sustained, adverse effect on the child's physical, mental or emotional development."

Neglect may also be alleged. Neglect occurs when the child is not provided with necessary care and protection and is the most common form of maltreatment according to Hennepin County's Child Protection Services. Examples include failure to provide the child with food, shelter, clothing, medical treatment, education and supervision as well as a failure to protect the child from danger.

Child Protection cases also involve rather strict, and unique, timelines and deadlines designed to keep these cases moving rapidly for the sake of growing children. A full understanding of these timelines and the impact that can have on a party or participant's options in the case is critical.

Legal counsel can help

Navigating through a CHIPS case can be difficult, whether for parents, guardians, relatives or foster parents. As a result, those going through such a process should contact a Minnesota attorney experienced in these types of juvenile court matters. This legal professional will help guide you through the process and help better ensure both that your legal rights are protected and that the best interests of the child(ren) are protected.

Keywords: CHIPS, child protective services, child abuse, neglect