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A status offense case is more commonly know as a Family With Service Needs (FWSN) case in Connecticut. A FWSN case involves a child who:
  • has run away without just cause;
  • is beyond control of his or her parents or guardians;
  • has engaged in indecent or immoral conduct;
  • is truant or defiant of school rules and regulations; and/or
  • is thirteen (13) years of age or older and has engaged in sexual intercourse with a person who is thirteen (13) years of age or older and not more than two (2) years or younger than such child.1
In FWSN cases, the primary goal of the juvenile court system is to prevent children and families from having further involvement with the court by referring them to community-based programs and services.


A FWSN case originates when parents, guardians, the child's school superintendent or other entity files a referral with the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters alleging that the child has committed a status offense. Though FWSN matters are handled in the juvenile court, they are not delinquency offenses.

Once a referral is received by the court, a decision is made by a juvenile probation supervisor to handle the case judicially or non-judicially based on rules established by the judges. Most status offense cases are handled non-judicially by referring the child and family to a community-based program or other service provider.

In non-judicial FWSN cases, a juvenile probation officer will meet with the child and family, conduct assessments and based on the factors in that case, he or she may choose to supervise the child for up to 180 days, dismiss the case with no action required, issue a warning, request the child to perform community service or refer the child to counseling.

In judicial FWSN cases, the child is entitled to legal representation in court proceedings, and if indigent, will be appointed an attorney by the court. The child’s attorney is usually assigned counsel by the office of the Chief Public Defender.

At the conclusion of a judicially handled FWSN case, the judge can consider a number of possible outcomes or dispositions for the case:
  • Issue a warning and send the child home with his/her parents/guardian;
  • Continue the case with no finding; such continuance may be extended;
  • Refer the child to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or to a community-based provider for services;
  • FWSN supervision by a probation officer;
  • Commitment to DCF for a period not to exceed eighteen (18) months;
  • Refer to the local Youth Service Bureau (YSB) for participation in an appropriate community based sex education program; or
  • Community service.


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