How can I get custody of my 14-month-old brother?

Q: Me and my fiancé have been taking care of my baby brother. My mom really doesn’t help. He has been at my house most of his life. For three months going on four months he hasn’t been at her house at all. She lost my two siblings to CYF. I have another brother who is with an uncle. She is supposed to go to drug classes and doesn’t because she feels she shouldn’t have to (that’s the only way she can see him). She comes over here and leaves and doesn’t take him, but when she gets mad she says give me my son or I’m filing kidnapping charges. I text her and ask her if she has food and diapers for him and she says no, she must go to the store (which she has been to plenty of times). She texts me and tells me she wants to die. I tried to 302 her but it was denied (I have no idea why) I need to keep my brother safe. What should I do? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I am wondering how she has custody of your brother with her CYF history, based on what you are saying about her condition and history. Perhaps you should try to reach out to CYF to see if they have an active case, or perhaps talk to the caseworker for the other children who apparently were dependent and in CYF care. If you can get their interest, and you want to put yourself forward as a potential placement resource, you need to have a suitable home and situation for a child. If CYF will not get involved for whatever reason, you might be able to file a petition for dependency and request that the child be placed with you. You can also seek the advice of a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, call the Allegheny County Bar Association. They may be able to advise you or refer you to an appropriate agency. If an emergency ever arises, you can also go to motions court through the pro se (self-representation) process and file an emergency motion for custody.

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