For your convenience, our most common customer questions are answered right here.
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What is a Case Navigator™?
Case Navigator™ helps you navigate the procedural and logistical aspects of your case. Your Case Navigator™ helps you understand the terms and acronyms you may come across, what the courts or your attorney may ask you to do (and why), and helps you stay on track with those requests/court orders. This leads to reduced stress, better-informed decisions, and better outcomes.
Will the Case Navigator™ give me legal advice?
No. That is the role of your attorney. Case Navigator™ helps you navigate the process.
Isn’t Case Navigator just one more person in my life telling me what to do?
No. We understand that there are a lot of people on your team. But the only real contact you will have with us is at the initial class. Once that’s over, you will get the Prioritized Task List posted to your client portal (or mailed to you if you do not have access to the internet), but no “personal” contact. However, if you ever have questions about the technology or something that’s on your task list, you can certainly call or email us and we will be happy to help.
Why do I need a Case Navigator™?
Attorneys and DHS have incredibly full caseloads. They may not always have the time to fully explain the process to you. Because your Case Navigator™ does not have the “practice of law” time constraints or the caseload/paperwork requirements of DHS, she is more accessible and has more time to spend on the procedure.
Shouldn’t my attorney/DHS be doing these things?
They could do these things, and often do. However, again because of the time constraints, the information is sometimes presented in piecemeal ways (e.g., explaining only the hearing that’s coming up) rather than a comprehensive way that provides context. When Case Navigator™ picks up the procedural pieces, it leaves more time for your attorney and caseworker to work with you on the substantive aspects of your case.
How does the process work?
If the court determines that your child(ren) needs its assistance (“Adjudicates the child to be a child in need of assistance,” or CINA), you will be invited to attend a three-hour class, at no cost to you. That sounds like a long class! However, this class will get you off to a great start towards getting your kids back. Here’s what it looks like:
Hour One – The goal of this hour is to give you a really good foundation of knowledge so you can better understand what DHS, the court, and your attorney are asking you to do. This will reduce your stress, and help you “process” the information you are receiving better.
Your case navigator will teach you:
- Terms and acronyms
- Procedure and hearings
- Logistics of going to court
- Who is on your “team,” what they do, and what they will expect of you.
Hour Two – The goal of this hour is to help you know what you might be asked to do and why, and to know which things matter most. You will also be introduced to the Prioritized Task List which will help you know what to do, how often, and in what order. This is a one-page document customized to you and your case. It is updated after every hearing and family team meeting (“FTM”). Additionally, when the tech piece is fully operational, your attorney will receive a notice if you are “not compliant” with any of the three critical tasks. This is not to “punish” you (because it might not be your fault)—it is to help you in one of two ways.
- If you are “noncompliant” but it’s not your fault (for example, you’ve been ordered to do inpatient substance abuse treatment, but there’s no bed available), your attorney can follow up more quickly with DHS to try to get you in faster. Or if the foster placement is “resistant” to scheduling visits, your attorney can help with that.
- If you are noncompliant but it is your “fault,” your attorney can help you get back on track faster, and start rebuilding a good history before the next hearing. The court does not expect you to be perfect, but it does expect you to be doing your best. If you make a mistake, it’s best to learn from it and move forward as quickly as possible. Don’t “run and hide!”
Hour Three – The goal for the third hour is to introduce you to the technology, install the app on your smartphone (if you have one), and get you connected to your online account. We will teach you how to use the software to help you stay on top of your case, access resources, update contact information, and know when your next hearing is.
What if I lose the documents I get in class?
General information documents, templates, and public record court documents (e.g., orders, etc.) will be available on your client portal so you can retrieve them independently.
Additionally, the home page of your portal will be updated with hearing and family team meeting dates as I am made aware of them, so if you need to look up the date of your hearing, you can go there.
How might having a Case Navigator™ help me?
Often in life, it’s the little stressors that cause us the most trouble. Whether it’s because we don’t understand what is going on, don’t know what’s expected of us, or fear of the unknown, those things take up emotional and cognitive “bandwidth,” giving us less brainpower to focus on the bigger issues. For most people, being in court is a new and foreign experience, similar in some respects to “new kid in school” feelings, but with the potential for significantly worse outcomes. When you combine these procedural stressors with the substantive, legal ones, you may feel overwhelmed.
Case Navigator™ will help relieve the procedural stresses by helping you understand the terms and acronyms, as well as the process of being in court. When you know what to expect procedurally, you can focus your attention on the substantive issues. You will better understand what goes on in a hearing, and what you are being asked to do. This leads to better decisions and ultimately a better outcome.
Case Navigator™ partners with your team to help keep you on track with the sometimes numerous things you are asked to do in the course of a juvenile CINA proceeding, again leading to a better outcome. It’s a team effort, and you are the most important player. In no other area of litigation does the client have so much control over the outcome. It may not feel like that because many people are asking you to do a lot of things. But if you do the things the court and DHS are asking you to do, you will almost always be able to have your children returned to your care.
And that’s something we can all celebrate.