It will be at least 30 days before Josh and Ebony can get their 2-year-old daughter Jocelyn back!
The Jacksonville, Ark. Police Department raided the home of 16 & Pregnant stars Ebony Jackson-Rendon and her husband Joshua Rendon on Sept. 20. Ebony and Josh were arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a minor (their 2-year-old daughter Jocelyn) and possession of drug paraphernalia and Jocelyn was taken away. When HollyBaby.com spoke with Ebony on Sept. 21, she told us exclusively that Jocelyn’s in foster care, but that they plan to sign custody over to Ebony’s own mother or Josh’s parents. Now, DHS explains to HollyBaby.com the process involved in child abuse and neglect cases similar to Jocelyn’s!
“Anyone can call into our child abuse hot line. The case is accepted for investigation,” Amy Webb, Director of Communication at Arkansas DHS tells us. “Our case workers go out and our number one priority is to assess the safety of the child. If our case workers believe the child is not safe, we can place them on a 72 hour hold and take them into our care.”
When the child is taken away from the home, DHS tries to place the child with another family member. “We make that effort because we believe that it’s better for the child to be with a family member they know,” explains Amy. “It’s already traumatic enough to be taken from your home. We want to try and make the transition as easy as possible for the child. We try to do that on the front end [of the investigation].”
Next, DHS has to deal with a series of court hearings. “We have 30 days to complete an abuse or neglect investigation,” reveals Amy. “Within 72 hours of taking the child into our care, we go to court and make a verbal request for an emergency court order to keep the child. If the judge rules that we can take emergency custody, then we have five days to go before a judge for a probable cause hearing. During that hearing the judge will decide if the safety concerns still do exist. If the judge decides they do exist, then we will continue to have custody of the child until we have a full hearing.”
During the 30 day period, DHS does all they can to investigate the circumstances of the case. “We serve as a safety net for the child, so we look at their environment, the home, we assess the safety issues that took us there to begin with,” says Amy. “We may interview the child, we may interview others who know the child or the family. We may interview the parents.”
Overall, DHS just wants to establish “if the child is returned to the home, will they be safe?” They also really try to reunite families.
So for the next month, Josh and Ebony not only have to get their acts together — but prove that they can take care of Jocelyn. If they don’t, they won’t get their daughter back!
– Lindsey DiMattina
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