KANSAS CITY, Mo -- A day after Johnson County's District Attorney declined to charge Tyreek Hill or his fincee, Crystal Espinal, in the alleged child abuse of their 3-year-old son, questions remain about what is next for their family.
The criminal case may be over, but the state's investigation is not.
Hill and Espinal will be frequent visitors to the Johnson County Courthouse in the coming months. The family's case is in the super-secretive Child in Need of Care Division of Family Court.
Once the Kansas Division of Children and Families determines that likely abuse occurred and the child may be in danger, the CINC judge becomes the boss.
In the case of Hill’s son, a judge decided the safest place for him is in foster care.
”The goal is to get these kids back home with their parents,” former DCF Deputy Director Dianne Keech told FOX4. “That is the most important thing, is that children belong with their parents when safely possible.”
Although Keech is not involved in the case of Hill and Espinal’s son, she has handled over a thousand similar cases in her 20-year career.
She said the first step is an assessment of Hill’s family to build a reunification plan, which could include parenting assessments as well as domestic violence and anger management assessments.
“It is important to note that domestic violence is not anger though. Domestic violence is about power and control,” Keech said. “So if this is a domestic violence case, anger management is not appropriate. But let’s say it was just an anger management issue, and there is no domestic violence, then anger management may be court ordered. That would all have to be determined through an assessment.”
A judge will closely monitor Hill and Espinal’s compliance and progress through the process of reunification.
Pretty soon, the CINC judge will have two more children to consider. The couple’s unborn twins.
“If the parents are in compliance with the reunification plan and the plan is to place this child back home imminently, those children will most likely remain with the parents,” Keech said.
District Attorney Steve Howe has gotten some heat for not charging either parent, but Keech said it's not unusual for a child to be injured and not know who did it.
"Because parents will often not admit that they harmed their child, parents will often-times not report on each other. And sometimes there are other people in and out of that child's life as well,” she said. “So pinpointing the exact perpetrator is difficult in these cases.”
CINC court is a closed courtroom. Only family and approved guests can be inside. No information about the proceedings, including the hearing dates, is public record.