In the Matter of the Dependency of LS, DOB: 05/13/2000, Minor child,
PA, Appellant. LS, Respondent,
teenage girl who felt unsafe at home brought this action to
have herself declared dependent so that she could continue to
live apart from her mother. The mother seeks to have the
order of dependency vacated on the ground that the Department
of Social and Health Services was not joined as a party. The
mother did not argue below that the department should be
joined, and she has not identified a proper basis for
considering the issue for the first time on appeal. We
of 2015, LS, then 15 years old, entered into counseling to
deal with the anxiety and panic attacks she was experiencing.
In January 2016, LS disclosed that her older brother had
sexually abused her when she was younger. Her counselor
reported this to Child Protective Services (CPS).
time, LS was staying with a friend and she refused to return
home. A CPS family assessment response team interviewed LS
and members of her family and made a written determination
for the department that the family home was safe for LS
because her brother no longer lived there. "The
Department is not taking any action at this time to place
[LS] outside of her home. Due to her brother no longer
residing in the home, the Department does not feel that there
are any active safety threats." The department
anticipated that LS would remain with her friend's family
on a short-term basis and that the family would "receive
services to help her transition back home."
acting pro se, filed a dependency petition on February 8,
2016. Using an online court form, she filled in the space for
facts supporting the allegation of dependency with a
26-paragraph summary of the problems in her family life.
• Her father is currently imprisoned for raping her
older sister for a number of years.
• Her father physically abused her, her mother, and her
• Her mother allowed and even encouraged her father to
physically abuse her.
• She was not sure her mother believed that she had been
sexually abused by her brother. Her mother "doesn't
understand why I don't feel safe." She was not sure
that her older brother would stay away from the family's
apartment. "I disagree with CPS stating that my home is
no longer unsafe."
• Her mother did not pay attention to her educational
needs, did not attend to her medical needs, and denied she
suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. Her mother's
current husband "gets angry.... I have a hard time
• She was experiencing thoughts of self-harm and
LS was represented by counsel. LS's mother contested the
dependency petition. LS's father, still incarcerated,
agreed to an order of dependency.
court issued a shelter care hearing order on February 18,
2016. The court found that LS was in need of shelter care
"based on her high anxiety and possibility of self
harm." The order provided that LS would remain in
shelter care in the temporary custody of the couple she was
living with. At her own discretion, she could have visitation
with her mother and siblings. The court ordered family and
individual counseling, with the goal of "reunification