CHESTER -- Danny and Tammy Dove, the Chester County couple officials charged with unlawful neglect after their children were found living among filth, agreed to a Department of Social Services treatment plan during a hearing Wednesday in a Chester court room.
The plan calls for parenting classes for the Doves as well as evaluations and treatment for their sons, ages 8 and 5, who authorities say may have developmental issues.
After the brief hearing, Danny Dove, 45, said the treatment plan is "a step forward."
"Every day is a step forward," he said. "That's what the whole thing is about."
Failure to comply with the plan would bring repercussions, said Dove's attorney, Pete Diamaduros.
"If the Doves do not complete the treatment plan, the Department of Social Services could attempt to terminate their parental rights," he said.
The treatment plan is key to the ultimate goal of putting the family back under one roof, Diamaduros said.
"That's the path to reuniting the parents and children," he said.
Tammy Dove's attorney, Robert Fitz Simmons, declined to comment.
In May, police went to Dove's Great Falls Highway home with a search warrant on drug-related charges and a tip that illegal gambling was offered inside the home. Police seized four gambling machines and $29 as well as 10 pills of Lortab, a controlled substance that worth about $10 per pill.
During the search of the home, police said officers found the two children living in "deplorable" conditions that included food scraps, feces and insects.
Dove was charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of criminal conspiracy, operating a gambling establishment and two counts of child neglect.
In June, officials charged Tammy Dove with two counts of unlawful conduct toward a child. Then, a judge granted DSS custody of the couple's sons.
For now, the boys live in South Carolina but not in Chester County, said Detective Cathie Bell of the Chester County Sheriff's Office.
"What the parents want is for their boys to come to Chester," Bell said after the hearing. "That can't be. We don't have the higher-level foster services necessary in Chester."
The boys are being tested for developmental delays, Bell said. Officials are not sure how long completing the treatment plan will take, but they say the boys have shown progress, Bell said.
"They know how to dress themselves," Bell said. "They didn't know how to dress themselves (before).
"The little one speaks better," she added. "The older one still has a severe speech impairment."
And the boys now have separate bedrooms in a big house.
"There's a pond on this property," Bell said. "They love to go feed the fish."
Danny and Tammy Dove get supervised visits with the boys about twice a month, Bell said.
The Doves are scheduled to return to court in October.