law desk

Arkansas DHS Decision Reversed on Appeal

In this case, DHS found that there was incident involving the father "popping" his child on the head.  DHS found that this was sufficient to open an investigation and subsequently open a DHS case against the parents.  The Court of Appeals reversed.  Here is the pertinent excerpt from the opinion:

Ms. Johnson contends that the incident when Mr. Evans “popped” R.U. on the head was overblown. She acknowledges that “abuse” is defined by striking a young child in the face or head. See Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-303(A)(vii)(a). She contends that this pop on the child’s head did not amount to a substantial risk of serious injury justifying a finding of dependency-neglect. No evidence of injury was found to these children, and the allegation of “popping” R.U. on the head was not included in DHS’s case-in-chief. We agree with Mr. Evans that one incident that did not result in injury should not give rise to the removal of the children from the home.  (Johnson and Evans vs. Arkansas DHS, emphasis added)

That final sentence is an important one.  I can't tell you how many cases I've had that involved one incident of non-injury to a child - and still DHS opened a case.  Maybe the ruling in this case will help lower these unnecessary filings.