Abandonment Process Step 1 -- Enter Protective Custody

While I was in Colombia, I was able to interview a director at ICBF. It was great to be able to ask some questions about the process. Over the next couple of days, I'd like to share what I learned. Today I would like to explain the first step that children go through when they enter protective custody with ICBF.

Step 1 -- The arrival of the child. Many people have asked me, "Why or How do children end up in the ICBF system?" The answer isn't easy as children come for all of the same reasons that they do here in the States -- abuse, drug use, neglect, etc. But you can add to that poverty and displacement. The ICBF official that I spoke with explained that there are several ways that a child can arrive, for example, there could be a report of child abuse or neglect, or a child could be found abandoned, or arrival may come as a result of a conscious decision on the part of the parents to give up custody. The official was also quick to point out that "Poverty is never a reason for the child to be removed from the family." This statement was clearly based on a recent Colombian Supreme Court decision that required ICBF to return a child that had been declared Adoptable when the parents were deemed unfit because of their poverty.
Where possible, there may have been a preliminary investigation before the child enters protective custody.

No matter how the child arrives in the system, he/she will always go through the following steps. The first step is for the child to receive an evaluation by 3 professionals:

1. Medicina Legal -- A medical evaluation, which is designed to determine the child's immediate physical state and health needs. Additionally, in the case of abuse or neglect, the exam is designed to document evidence for legal purposes.

2. Psicologia -- A psychological evaluation and a determination of developmental status.

3. Nutricionista
-- A nutritional evaluation which will establish the child's growth rate and unfortunately, in many cases decide if the child is malnourished.

Following the evaluation, each professional will prepare a report and make recommendations for the child. These reports are used as the basis for legal proceedings. See step #3 on Wednesday.

The evaluations are typically performed in a hospital setting. The child may stay in the hospital a few hours, over night, over the weekend, or many days depending on their health status, time of day they arrive, and availability of foster/institutional placement. See more tomorrow on placement, Step #2.


Anonymous said…
how recent was the court decision about poverty? Because i have spent some time in ICBF homes in Colombia doing volunteer work and there are ways around it... a child who is not attending school because the parents live in a region where there is no public school and they are poor and cannot afford the transport to the school... are considered to be neglectful and can have their children taken away (from age 3 onward) for not providing the basic need of education even though the government has not provided the access to education... to me, children with 2 loving parents who get daily meals, have a safe place to sleep and are cared for yet their parents cannot afford to send them on public transport to a day care 45 minutes away should NOT have their children taken away and the social workers are not taking into account poverty!
Colombian Mommy said…
Here is a link to a report on the Supreme Court Decision, which occured on September 1, 2010.


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