Virginia's Judicial System

Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court: Child in Need of Services

The content of this page was provided by the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and has been posted on Virginia's Judicial System Web site as a courtesy to the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.


  • A Child In Need of Services means a juvenile whose behavior, conduct or condition presents or results in a serious threat to the juvenile's well-being and physical safety; AND
  • The conduct complained of must present a clear and substantial danger to the child's life or health ; or the child or his family is in need of treatment, rehabilitation or services not presently being received; AND
  • The intervention of the court is essential to provide the treatment, rehabilitation or services needed by the child or his family.

Court Procedure

A person who wants the court to consider a child as a Child In Need of Services must file a petition with the Intake Officer of the Court Service Unit.

After the petition is filed, the child and the parent(s) or guardian are notified to come to court so they can be told of the adjudicatory hearing (trial ) date and time. The child will also be told of his/her right to have a lawyer represent him/her. If the child cannot afford a lawyer, one can be appointed for him/her by the court if the child wants one or if the judge decides that the interests of justice require that the child be represented by counsel.

Shelter Care

Shelter Care means the temporary care of children in physically unrestricting facilities. Shelter Care in Lynchburg may be provided by Crossroads House or by Lynchburg Division of Social Services in a temporary foster care placement.

Sometimes when the Intake Officer issues a petition alleging that a child is a Child In Need of Services, the Intake Officer also issues a "Shelter Care Order" authorizing law enforcement to place the child in shelter care.

Shelter Care is used for a Child In Need of Services when the child's parent, guardian or other person able to provide supervision cannot be reached or can't arrive to provide supervision within a reasonable time; or the juvenile does not consent to return home; or the child's parent or guardian refuses to permit the juvenile to return home and no relative or other person willing and able to provide proper supervision and care can be located within a reasonable time.

When a child has been picked up on a Shelter Care Order, the first appearance at the court will also include a decision on the temporary placement of the child pending the adjudicatory hearing.

Adjudicatory Hearing (Trial)

On the date of the adjudicatory hearing, the court will hear from witnesses under oath or affirmation. If the judge finds that the child is not a Child In Need of Services, the case will be dismissed. If the judge finds that the child is a Child In Need of Services, then the judge may proceed to a final decision in the case (disposition), or may order a background report, a psychological evaluation, or may order a Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT) to meet with the parents and make recommendations to the court. A FAPT has representatives from the court service unit, the schools, the division of social services, mental health, and others.


At the time of disposition, after the child has been found to be a Child In Need of Services, the court has several dispositional options. Included in these are ordering services when funding is available; permitting the child to remain with his/her parents subject to conditions; ordering the parent with whom the child lives to participate in programs or cooperate in treatment; transferring custody to a relative, a licensed child welfare agency, or to a local social services department.