Ask a Mentor: Interviewing Parents in TPR Cases

Volunteer Question

My newest case is one with three children who were severely abused by the parents more than one time. The Department of Children and Families immediately filed a petition for termination of parental rights (TPR) this last time. I'm just starting the investigation process and am making a list of the people I ought to interview. I've met the children and talked with their caregiver. I put the parents on my interview list, but I've been thinking about it. What is my purpose if the children are not going back to them?

Mentor Answer

There are a number of reasons and I'll suggest several. You will be required to write a special report called the Manifest Best Interest Report prior to the trial. Even though you will obtain much information from the records and various documents, talking with the parents will help you do a better job completing this report. Also, interviewing them will help you to decide whether you really support TPR.

Another reason for interviewing the parents is that it will help you determine whether you support supervised visitation with the children and whether these visits should be supervised by a therapist. You will certainly understand the children better if you talk with the parents and learn something about the parental environment in which they lived. If the parents still live in the same house, you will also get an idea of the children's previous physical environment. And remember, it will be important to interview the parents separately. If you are hesitant to do these interviews by yourself, be sure to ask your mentor or your supervisor to go with you.

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