A Child In Need of Supervision (CINS) is a child who needs guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation, and falls under one of these categories:
- Must legally go to school, but routinely does not;
- Regularly cannot be controlled by the child’s parents, guardians, or custodians,
- Acts in a way that is dangerous to self or others, or
- Has committed an offense applicable only to children (like truancy, run-away, curfew violation, or alcohol violation.).
Read the Law: Md. Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings.§ 3-8A-01(e)
A Child In Need of Supervision is not the same as a delinquent child. A “delinquent child” is a child who has committed a delinquent act and requires guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation. A "delinquent act" means an act which would be a crime if committed by an adult.
The CINS process starts when someone complains to the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) about a child. Within 25 days of receiving the complaint, an intake officer at DJS decides whether to file a petition with the court.
If the officer files a petition, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether:
- the child needs formal supervision by DJS,
- the child needs informal supervision by the DJS for a limited time (called “informal adjustment”), or
- no action is necessary.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings §3-8A-10
If the intake officer files a petition with the court, the petition is filed in the juvenile court. A child alleged to be a Child in Need of Supervision may not be placed in detention or in a state mental health facility. A Child in Need of Supervision may be placed in shelter care (a non-secure community group or foster home).
The juvenile court will hold a hearing to decide if the facts claimed in the petition are true. An appropriate government agency presents the evidence. In Child in Need of Supervision cases, the government agency only needs to prove that it is more likely than not that the facts claimed in the petition are true. (This standard of proof is called the “preponderance of the evidence” standard and is common in civil cases.) The agency does not need to prove the facts “beyond a reasonable doubt” (the usual criminal standard that is used in juvenile delinquency cases). In a delinquency case, a child can assert the 5th Amendment right to speak or to remain silent, and this silence cannot be held against the child – but in Child in Need of Supervision cases, the 5th Amendment does not apply, and the child can be required to speak.
In some Child in Need of Supervision cases, the court may appoint an attorney or advocate to represent the child’s interest during the hearing.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings § 3-8A-32
If the court decides that the facts in the petition are true, the court will hold a “disposition hearing” to determine what action the court should take. A Child in Need of Supervision cannot legally be placed in a facility used only for delinquent children. A Child in Need of Supervision also cannot legally be placed in a facility that treats adults. However, a Child in Need of Supervision may be placed in a facility that treats a mixture of children, including delinquent children. Even if a Child in Need of Supervision runs away from a placement or otherwise disobeys a court order, the child cannot be held in a facility used only for delinquent children.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings §§ 3-8A-19 and 3-8A-22
Restitution is not available in a Child in Need of Supervision case, but the court may issue an order controlling conduct, i.e., to order parents to participate in counseling; violation of the order may be punishable by contempt.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings §§ 3-8A-26 and 3-8A-28
Child Welfare – A 3-Part Series from the Maryland Courts
Child Welfare - The Court's Role from the Maryland Courts
Child Welfare - Hearings from the Maryland Courts
Child Welfare - People You Will Meet from the Maryland Courts