Child Protective Services is a powerful government agency. As with any government agency, there are times where not knowing one’s rights makes a crucial difference in a case. While Child Protective Services is meant to protect families and especially children from harm, but in the path to do so, misstatements, foul play, false accusations, and misinterpretations can occur. In these situations, it is important to know some basic rules, laws, and tips to ensure the best outcome o a Child Protective Services case. This article will touch on those topics by answering the Top Ten Child Protective Services Questions.
1. Can CPS Talk to Children Without Parent’s Permission?
Yes, Child Protective Services can speak to any child without the permission of the parent. Depending on the type of Child Protective Services case, caseworkers may try to speak to the child separately from the parent so if abuse or neglect is occurring, the parent cannot force the child to lie and hide the issues. If this were not the case, children that need the help of Child Protective Services would never be allowed to get it.
2. Can Child Protective Services Enter My Home WIthout Permission?
Child Protective Services cannot enter a home without the permission of the homeowner. The only exception to this is if the caseworker has a signed warrant from the local judge. In this case, the judge has deemed it necessary to search the house with or without the owner’s permission in order to protect children. If one does invite Child Protective Services into their house, Child Protective Services is not allowed to open any drawers, the fridge, or other containers. They must have the owner’s permission or a court order if Child Protective Services wishes to open anything in the home. In addition to this, if Child Protective Services is granted permission to enter, they are required to leave if the owner asks them to. This does not include if Child Protective Services has a court order.
3. Why is CPS Investigating Me?
Child Protective Services has many reasons to investigate a family. First and foremost, Child Protective Services is required to investigate every report whether it is false or not. The seldom case in which Child Protective Services might disregard a report is if the report does not pertain to any threats to the children like neglect, domestic abuse, or sexual abuse, or if the situation is one that does not require Child Protective Services such as the following:
Someone reports that a 14-year-old child is being left alone for multiple hours. Seeing as the child is a freshman in high school and does not require special care, this case would be closed before investigation. However, if the report mentioned the child was committing crimes while alone or the child requires special care for something such as down syndrome or cerebral palsy. Child Protective Services questions all people in the family.
4. Why Is Child Protective Services Asking Invasive and Personal Questions?
Child Protective Service workers often ask personal and invasive questions so they can get a firm grasp of what is occurring in the household. It is also their job to ensure that they cover every topic that could put the child at risk or in danger. For example, say someone reports child abuse and Child Protective Service investigates the report. The caseworker does not find any evidence of child abuse, but the child appears dirty and dressed in ill-fitting clothes. The caseworker asks about abuse and the child responds in the negative, but when asked about parental drug use, the child answers yes. Since the caseworker asked further questions, they were able to uncover that the child is suffering from neglect, possibly due to a parent abusing drugs.
5. Can CPS Force Someone to Take a Drug Test?
No, Child Protective Services cannot force anyone to submit to a drug test without first getting a court order. However, just because they cannot drug test without permission does not mean it is a good idea to deny Child Protective Services the test. If one is clean, they have nothing to fear from a drug test. In fact, submitting to a test when one knows they are clean could help move the case along quickly and provide strong evidence in favor of the parent. If one knows they are not clean, it is a good idea to discuss this with the caseworker. A positive drug test does not necessarily mean children will be separated from their parents, but they may have to stay with a relative while one gets clean.
6. Can Child Protective Services Take my Children Away
Child Protective Services can and will take children away from their parents if the situation is harmful or threatening to the children. Children may be relocated to a foster home or other endangered youth government agency, but the court will try to accommodate placing the children with a relative if requested and appropriate for the situation. For instance, if the report said that both the parents and the grandparents were abusive to the child, it would not be appropriate to send the child to live with the grandparents. However, if the caseworker determines there is an immediate threat, they may take immediate action along with authorities to remove a child from the situation.
7. Should One Speak with CPS about Their Investigation?
If Child Protective Services wants to speak with a parent, it is normally in their best interest to comply, but this should be done in a safe way. It is key to remember that anything said to Child Protective Services can be used in a case against the parent. For this reason, it is very helpful to hire an attorney. The attorney can be present during interviews and help their client protect themselves and their family against false claims. Without the advice of a trained attorney, one could easily incriminate themselves in the eyes of Child Protective Services and have difficulty getting a good outcome later in court.
8. Is CPS Part of the Police?
No, Child Protective Services is a completely separate agency from the police. In some cases, both the police department and the Department of Child Services will work together to serve a search warrant, or, in extreme cases, to remove children from a situation that imposes an immediate threat or danger. The removal of a child is not up to Child Protective Services or the police department, this can only be done with a court order from a judge who has reviewed the case. The one exception to this is if CHild Protective Services determines there is an emergent threat to a child. In this case, Child Protective Services can remove the child without a court order until a decision is made. Another reason that the police may become involved in an investigation is if the case pertains to the sexual abuse of a minor. Since this is a crime in all 50 states, both the police department and Child Protective Services have jurisdiction to investigate such a report.
9. If CPS Investigates a Report, is there a Court Case?
If Child Protective Services is investigating someone, it does not necessarily mean that a court case will occur. An investigation is just that. If CHild Protective Services finds evidence of abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, or other crimes in the household, a court case will likely be opened. However, if Child Protective Services does not find any incriminating evidence, they will likely close the case and a judge will never see it. If an investigation is closed, it does not necessarily mean it will stay that way. In family court, each individual can be assigned a profile that has a history of reports. This could be used to show a history of past crimes if incriminating evidence is discovered in a separate investigation later.
10. Can One Sue CPS?
Yes, one may sue Child Protective Services if their civil rights have been violated. This is likely to be a tough argument as some laws and permissions granted to Child Protective Services can be vague or unclear. In these cases, especially since Child Protective Services is a state department, the plaintiff would bear the burden of showing evidence of an absolute violation. Common issues that occur are a lack of due process, illegal search, and seizure, or discrimination on basis of age, sex, race, or sexuality. In these cases, it is recommended to hire a family court litigation lawyer. They will be able to assist in the compilation of relevant evidence and any other violations Child Protective Services could have committed. If successful, litigation could lead to a case being dismissed or even monetary compensation for loss.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been seeking child custody or have more Child Protective Services questions, invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.