How the State Can Remove Custody

How the State Can Remove Custody
What the Law Says About Separating A Mother From Her Baby
Applicable State Law
Statute: §§20-7-1572; 20-7-763(c)(F)1
Grounds: Abandonment or extreme parental disinterest, abuse/neglect, mental illness or deficiency,
alcohol or drug induced incapacity, felony conviction/incarceration, failure of reasonable efforts,
abuse/neglect or loss of rights of another child, failure to maintain contact, failure to provide support,
childʼs best interest, child in care 15 of 22 months (or less), felony assault of child or sibling,
murder/manslaughter of sibling child, presumptive father not the biological father, aggravated
circumstances, conviction for domestic violence.
Exceptions: State may elect not to file petition if: 1) when court finds that initiation of TPR is not in best
interest of child after applying statutory criteria for selection of a permanent plan for child and that this
finding and the permanent plan constitute a compelling reason for not filing for TPR; 2) when court finds
that agency has not afforded services to parents required by the service plan or that court hearings have
been delayed so as to interfere with services, but only if: a) parent did not delay hearings without cause
or delay or refuse services; b) successful completion of services may allow child to return home within
the extension period, and c) court has not made a “no reasonable efforts” determination.
It appears the minor parent in foster care has parental rights over her newborn to the extent that Code
1976 § 20-7-300 sets forth that a minor parent may consent to health services for the child: ”Any minor
who has been married or has borne a child may consent to health services for the child.” Attorneys and
judges can help to ensure that teen parents are not forced to sign a voluntary placement agreement. The
agreement can have dire consequences for a young mom in care who wishes to keep custody of herbaby after emancipation 2 Some foster teen moms may need a chance to “catch their breath” after their
babyʼs birth. The alternative of temporary foster care is available through the state and services that
have the foster teen sign a voluntary agreement to hand over custody for a limited time only. When the
separation is over and the foster teen is ready to resume responsibility for child care, the infant is
returned to her pursuant to the terms of the temporary foster care contract she signed. The foster teen
should obtain legal counsel to assist and advise as to the temporary foster care alternative.
If young parents are to assume daily responsibility for the care of their children after discharge, they must
be allowed to practice that responsibility while in foster care.3 Ensuring that the young mother and her
child are placed together is a primary responsibility of the ward’s attorney. Reports and anecdotal
evidence suggest that local child welfare systems do not have enough mother/child placements to meet
the population’s needs.4 The separation of mother and infant is damaging to both. The baby is left alone
in the hospital for the entire night and portions of the day, precluding breast feeding and crucial bonding
with the mother. The state, in turn, pays an enormous price to keep a healthy child in the hospital. Such
separations are counterproductive and inhumane. They are also illegal. Attorneys for parenting wards
can address this problem from several angles. First, in some cases, steps may be taken while the ward
is pregnant to ensure that the relevant agency is making appropriate plans for the client’s post-pregnancy
placement. Next, when a client is illegally separated from her child, attorneys have several options. In
most states, the parent may file a writ of habeas corpus against the child welfare or foster care agency,
demanding that the child be returned to the mother. In some circumstances, an attorney’s threat to
initiate such action will be sufficient to motivate the agency to reunite mother and child in an appropriate
placement. Another option is to seek relief from a court with jurisdiction over the teen’s foster care
placement. The attorney should avail herself of state policies, such as those discussed above, to argue
that the ward has a right to placement with her child.5 Finally, in negotiating with state or local
bureaucrats, advocates should point out that as long as the parenting ward retains legal custody of the
infant, failure to place the mother and child together will compromise the state’s ability to receive federal
reimbursement for the infant’s care.
Before parental rights can be forever terminated, the alleged grounds for the termination must be proven
by clear and convincing evidence. Charleston County Dept. of Social Services v. Jackson 368 S.C. 87
(S.C.App. 2006) Natural parents are entitled to fundamentally fair procedures when the State seeks to
sever the relationship they have with their child. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14. When reviewing a family
court’s decision to terminate parental rights, the Supreme Court may make its own conclusion as to
whether DSS proved by clear and convincing evidence that parental rights should be terminated. South
Carolina Dept. of Social Services v. Cochran 356 S.C. 413 (S.C., 2003) Party seeking to terminate
parental rights must show conditions warranting such action by clear and convincing evidence. Code
1976, § 20-7-1572. Shake v. Darlington County Dept. of Social Services 306 S.C. 216 (S.C. 1991)
(Evidence did not clearly and convincingly establish that mother’s emotional instability and possible
personality disorder made it unlikely she could provide minimally acceptable care for child, and therefore
trial court properly refused to terminate mother’s parental rights; no expert testified about mother’s
emotional condition. Code 1976, § 20-7-1572(6).) A finding of willful failure to support a child will not be
predicated upon parental conduct that can be reasonably explained. Hardy v. Gunter 353 S.C. 128
(S.C.App. 2003) If the order terminating the foster teen’s parental rights is reversed and her attorney
successfully gets the case remanded to Family Court, the issue of termination may be reconsidered de
novo. South Carolina Dept. of Social Services v. Smith 311 S.C. 426 (S.C. 1993)
Department of Social Services
P.O. Box 1520 Columbia, SC 29202
Legal Resources
South Carolina Legal Services
701 South Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601

South Carolina Centers For Equal Justice
701 South Main Street Greenville, SC 29601
General Phone: 864-679-3232
Fax: 864-467-3260
Web Site:
Teen Parents and the Law (TPAL) program is based on a national teen court curriculum and serves to
teach teen parents life skills through the prism of civic education. The intensive program takes place over
a number of weeks and covers topics such as landlord-tenant law, consumer protection, child custody,
child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, voter registration, and state mandatory education
requirements. The program is designed to teach teen parents the skills to be effective parents and selfadvocates.
In April 2005, the Administrative Office of the Courts held a ‘train the trainers’ program on the
TPAL curriculum for Family Court staff members. Ten Family Courts were supplied curriculum materials
and are either implementing the program or are in the planning stages of implementation.6
Transitional or Independent Living Programs
South Carolina Department of Social Services
P.O. Box 1520 1535 Confederate Avenue Columbia, SC 29202-1520
Phone: (803) 898-7159
Fax: (803) 898-7792
Greenville County of School District – Teen Parent Program
205 Anderson Street, Greenville, SC 29601
Phone: (864) 241-3303
Collins Home and Family Ministries
P.O. Box 745, Seneca, SC 29672
Phone: (864) 882-0893
Fax: (864) 882-0452
Web Site:
The Collins Home is a nondenominational ministry dedicated to rescuing children from painful, and
sometimes dangerous, family situations and providing them with a safe, loving, nurturing environment
where they can grow and thrive as part of an extended family in a community that cares for and supports
them. The children learn to live and work with others as a mutually supportive family unit. At the same
time, the staff works with parents and children to teach important life skills, self-sufficiency, Judeo-
Christian values, and a strong work ethic.
Mother-baby Residential Facilities
Butterfly House Maternity Home
P.O. Box 13 Blackville, SC 29817
Phone: (803) 284-5042
Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina
19 Saint Margaret St. Charleston, SC 29403
Phone: (843) 577-0770
Substance Abuse Health & Treatment Resources
Partnership for Youth Transition (PYT)
PYT is an initiative of SAMHSA (the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration) focusing on developing transition service systems for youth with behavioral or emotional
Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services
Phone: (239) 949-4414
A private, non-profit membership organization of youth service agencies in the states of Alabama,Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Greenville Family Partnership
200 Mills Ave. Greenville, SC 29605

Phone: (864) 467-4099

Childcare Assistance
FAAP (District 4)
1905 Rolling Pines Dr. Columbia, SC 29206-1469
Phone: (803) 434-7020
Fax: (803) 434-3855
The liaison between the National American Academy of Pediatrics and all State Early Education and
Child Care activities.
Childrenʼs Place
310 Barnwell Ave NE, Aiken, SC 29801
Phone: (803) 641-4144
Fax: (803) 641-4147
A child and family development center that serves at-risk children ages 6 to 13 years of age. Many of the
children are court placed because of abuse. The Center implemented a new after school program called,
“Gotcha” in 1997, a collaborative effort with Aiken County Public Schools. This program helps at-risk
students “catch up” with their classmates. Foster Grandparents mentored/tutored 47 students with their
homework, reading assignments, and additional practice work assigned by their school teacher. Reading
and math skills improved and failure rates subsided. Success was measured in reading levels and grade
improvements by teacher and parent surveys.
Foundation info:
TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) Funds
South Carolinaʼs TANF is known as the Family Independence Program
Division of Family Assistance
South Carolina Department of Social Services
PO Box 1520
Columbia, SC 29202
Phone: (803) 898-7474
FAX: (803) 898-7793

TANF/AFS (Adult and Family Services) or other
TANF is time-limited public assistance payments made to poor families, based on Title IV-A of the Social
Security Act. The program provides parents with job preparation, work, and support services to help them
become self-sufficient.
TANF legislation includes two rules specific to minor parents (parents under age 18). One rule requires
that minor parents live in an approved arrangement, usually with their parents. The other rule requires
that minor parents typically participate in education leading to a high school diploma or GED.
The living arrangement requirement to receive TANF says that a state is prohibited from spending federal
TANF funds on assistance to an unmarried, minor, custodial parent unless she lives with a parent, legal
guardian or other adult relative or is approved for an exception. The law recognizes limited exceptions to
this rule including situations in which a parent, legal guardian, or other adult relative is not available or
when such a placement could result in harm to the minor parent and/or her child. When residing with a
parent, legal guardian or other adult relative is inappropriate, the state must “provide, or assist the
individual in locating, a second chance home, maternity home, or other appropriate adult-supervised
setting.” Alternatively, the state may determine that a teen parentʼs independent living arrangement is
appropriate and that it is in the “best interest” of her child to make an exception to the general rule. 7
See also SC Code 1976 § 43-5-1220 (Minor mother must live with minor’s parents to receive welfare;

About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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