The Protective Services Team (formerly known as the "CPS Team") is responsible for representing the legal interests of the county through the Health and Human Services Agency in matters relating to juvenile dependency proceedings. The team is currently composed of one chief deputy, four deputies, two paralegals, and two support staff. The team's office is located at the Juvenile Detention Facility, north of Visalia. The mission of the team is to effectively and efficiently represent our clients, who protect and serve at-risk children.
There are currently approximately 800 active dependency cases in juvenile court. A large part of the team's time is spent representing the county in court on these cases. This involves preparation of cases for court, actual appearance in court and follow-up after court. The team handles a variety of cases, from routine matters taking less than one half hour to contested trials of a week long. The team is responsible for representing the county in all writs and appeals arising from dependency cases. The team has experienced over the last several years a general increase in the number of dependency cases coming to juvenile court.
The team fields requests for general legal advice from social workers, other CWS personnel, and also provides formal legal opinions on issues relating to dependency law. The team has embarked on a comprehensive project to train social workers in such areas as court report writing and new dependency law and is also highly involved in offering input to the juvenile court judges regarding the functioning of the juvenile court.
The team is committed to searching out new ways to provide legal work more effectively and efficiently and has embraced the available technology to this end. Specifically, all dependency cases are entered into the office's data management system (ProLaw) and most communication occurs through this system (e.g., documentation preparation, summaries of telephone calls, summaries of court appearances, etc.). This has facilitated communication among team members and has promoted more consistent, comprehensive representation of the county in dependency matters.
Protective Services Team Mission:
To effectively and efficiently represent our clients, who protect and serve at-risk children.
Members of the Protective Services Team:
The Team includes John Rozum, Chief Deputy; attorneys Amy-Marie Costa, Carol E. Helding, Jason Chu, and Abel Martinez, paralegals George Graham and Ashley Bier; Supervising Civil Office Assistant Shaureen Estrada and Civil Office Assistant Annette Lares.