In this article, we find out what child protective services Can and Cannot Do in 2021. Parents are sometimes accused of ridiculous things like trying to sell their children to relatives for drug money; beating a child with a baseball bat without leaving bruises.
A CPSinvestigation is a serious business and can have life-altering consequences if things go wrong. It’s not to be taken lightly. Nonetheless, a CPS investigator’s authority is limited by law to certain activities.
Her ability to intrude into your life is not, I repeat, not open-ended. So let’s step way back from that nightmare for a moment and what you have to do whenever you have a CPS at your steps.
Prior to the CPS, in 1853, The Children’s Aid Societywas founded in order to respond to the problem of orphaned or abandoned children living in New York City.
In 1874, the first case of child abuse was criminally prosecuted. The case has come to be known as the “case of Mary Ellen.” Outrage over the cruel brutality of the case, there was an organized effort against child maltreatment.
Finally, in 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt convened the White House Conference on Child Dependency. This created a publicly funded volunteer organization to “establish and publicize standards of child care.”
By 1926, 18 states had some version of county child welfare boards.
Their purpose was to coordinate public and private child-related work. Issues of abuse and neglect were addressed in the Social Security Act in 1930.
This provided funds for intervention on behalf of “neglected and dependent children in danger of becoming delinquent.”
Partly funded by the federal government, Child Protective Services agencies were first established in response to the 1974 CAPTA. This mandated that all states establish procedures to investigate suspected incidents of child maltreatment.
CPS Is Legally Obligated to Investigate Every Repor
You may have heard it before, and it is the truth. CPS is legally obligated to investigate every report it receives. However, there are instances where they do not investigate or the case is closed without investigation.
This typically happens when there is no real foundation to believe that there is abuse or neglect occurring.
CPS Can Ask Invasive Questions
The investigation process is designed to be thorough. As a result, they may ask questions that you are not comfortable with. They still have the right to ask those questions.
CPS Can Terminate Your Parental Rights
It is a long and time-consuming process, but CPS can terminate your parental rights. The process takes at least 18 months and a lot of court involvement. However, it is possible.
CPS Can Help You Connect With Resources
The agency is very good at connecting families with beneficial resources. In some cases, they may even be able to provide financial assistance. CPS once pledged $500 to our power bill!
CPS Can Meet With Your Child Without Your Permission
This is one of the most alarming things that parents learn about CPS, but it’s true. CPS caseworkers have the right to meet with your children without your permission and without you present.
In fact, CPS will often speak to your child before they speak to you. This is to ensure that guilty parents do not have the opportunity to coach or threaten their children into providing specific answers.
Of course, this is because real abuse would never be discovered if abusive parents had to give permission or had the right to be present for interviews.
CPS Can Demand That You Follow A Plan
When you work with CPS, you may be asked to comply with a safety or service plan. These are generally not court ordered and therefore cannot be enforced. However, if you fail to follow the plan, CPS can tell the court that you are not cooperative.
CPS Can Use Whatever You Say Against You
Your conversations with anyone at CPS are not confidential. Whatever you say can be used against you in court, even if it is taken out of context. Make sure you read about these five mistakes you can never make with CPS!
CPS Can Remove Children From The Home
The caseworkers at Child Protective Services can legally remove your children from your home, but only under certain circumstances.
They need to have a court order or be able to prove that the child is in imminent danger in order to remove a child. Imminent danger could include things like physical harm, sexual contact, neglect, or firearmsleft in the open.
CPS Findings Can Impact Your Future
If you are investigated and the case is decided against you, the information will be visible on certain types of background checks.
It may not result in a criminal conviction, but it may prevent you from participating in volunteer positions where you have unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults.
It is advisable to be aware of the things that CPS cannot do before they show up at your doorstep.
CPS Cannot Force Their Way Into Your Home
Unless CPS has received a court order or believes there is an imminent threat to the child (such as they can hear or see the child being harmed).
CPS Cannot Test You for Drugs Without Your Consent
You cannot be forced to submit to a drug test without your consent unless they have a court order.
However, there are many good reasons to consider giving consent to a drug test. Prior CPS caseworkers have stated that refusing a drug test in an attempt to avoid detection simply doesn’t work.
The court order will test fingernails or hair instead of urine, and these other testing methods will reveal a longer history of drug use than a urine test.
Your Right as a Parent if CPS Shows Up
Record and Document Everything
Check your state recording laws. Print out a copy of your state’s recording law, and put it in a file folder titled “Child Welfare Agents” near your front door. Have an audio recorder or video camera handy in the house at all times.
If a child protective services social worker shows up at your door, be prepared to record the interview. You can, at that time, show them that you have a copy of the recording law.
Don’t be coerced not to record — this is your legal right if your state law says it is. Video is better than the audio if you can afford to do that instead.
Furthermore, you must document everything that happens in writing! Take notes. An English activist recommends you write down every word and insist that the worker must wait until the words are properly recorded. You have the right.
Keep a spiral-bound notebook on hand and use it to document every contact with child protective services or child protective services appointed “service providers”. Don’t back down on this! Prepare in advance, and stand firm against CPS agents!
After each contact, write a letter (some recommend having such a letter notarized) detailing what occurred and request that the social worker confirm or deny the facts as you understand them within ten days of receipt of your letter.
If no letter disputing the facts is received, then your statement of facts will be automatically confirmed. This form of documentation can later be used as evidence in your favor in juvenile court.
Don’t Invite The CPS Worker Inside
You are under no obligation to let a child protective services, social worker, into your house. Under the basic law of our land, the United States Constitution, Amendment Four, you have the right to privacy in your home.
No government agent of any type is allowed to enter your home without your permission. We know of many cases where entry was coerced by statements such as “let me in or I’ll take your kids”. Do not give in!
Do not give up your Constitutional Rights! Stand firm on this! If your rights are not honored, you can sue them later, but it is so much better to force them to honor your rights now. Check out the Forced Entry Lawsuit.
The only exception would be if the child protective services agent shows up with a law enforcement officer bearing a search warrant. Usually, that doesn’t happen — and I will tell you why.
The child protective services agent is there at your door to gather evidence. Usually, he doesn’t have enough real evidence to detain your child right away and there is not enough “probable cause” to obtain a search warrant.
Don’t Trust CPS Social Workers
In other words, know the enemy. Know who child protective services workers are. The typical child protective services social worker is there for one reason: to have a job to pay his/her bills.
This worker cannot afford to lose the job, so s/he will do whatever the supervisor says in order to maintain employment.
Now, if this child protective services social worker is put into a unit assigned to go investigate referrals and to make decisions regarding the detainment of children, then naturally this person would be suspect if s/he never detained a kid!
In order to maintain employment, this child protective services social worker will have to take a certain number of children into custody…
therefore when they are at your home, they are thinking to themselves, “what can I find out about this family to build a case aimed at taking their kid?”
They must have a case to take into court, and they are there, looking for evidence.
Even if they seem nice and harmless, remember, this is how child protective services make money. To keep their jobs, they must take away children from their families.
They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They come to your door saying, “I’m just here to help.”
The next thing you know, your children are in state custody and you are in court trying to prove your innocence.
Remember, even if you like the person, behind every pleasant personality is a need to keep the child protective services social worker job.
You need to understand that child protective services funding is closely tied in with “service providers”.
It is likely that the social worker will offer some kind of deal, saying you can keep your kid if you agree to “services” like psychological testing, drug testing, therapy, etc.
What this offer really means is that they don’t have enough evidence to take your child into their custody, but if you will just go to their “service providers” they may get the “evidence” they need through these “service provider” reports.
Just Say “NO” To Private Interviews With Your Child
The CPS agents will want to talk to your child alone. Just say “NO”. Tell the agents that your child has the right to have an attorney present, and that if he insists on an interview then you and the attorney will be present and the interview will be recorded, preferably on videotape.
Of course, if your child is attending a public school, you probably won’t get a chance to say “no”. What would happen is that the social worker would go to the school and, behind your back, get permission to talk with your children from the school employees.
You can tell the school ahead of time (in writing) that you don’t permit such interviews, or anything other than basic education activities, however, you cannot trust school employees to go by your wishes.
It might help to ask your attorney to write a letter to the school forbidding interviews with CPS workers. Keep in mind that public schools are one of the major sources of CPS referrals.
Ask What The Charges Are
Most of the time, the caseworker wants to keep you in the dark as to what you have been accused of, despite being required by federal and state law to tell you details of the accusation at her first contact with you.
Don’t settle for the answer of “abuse” or “neglect”. Those are categories, not details. You are entitled to know what specific acts you are accused of committing.
Find An Attorney Who Has Experience Fighting CPS
When? As soon as you realize your family is being investigated. The sooner an experienced attorney enters the picture, the sooner he or she can put a stop to abusive CPS tactics. Please note that I said experience in FIGHTING CPS.
Many attorneys- if not most – believe their role is to find out what CPS wants and make sure their clients do it. That way often leads to disaster – and the loss of your children.
Hostility toward the investigator is considered evidence of guilt. Your perfectly natural angry reaction to being accused of harming your child will be used as evidence of an abusive personality.
This is where an attorney can be a valuable asset. He or she can stand up to the bully on your behalf.
Never Admit Guilt
Never, ever admit to anything. Even if CPS has taken your children and offers to give them back if you do (they won’t), it would be immoral to do so if you truly haven’t done anything.
Even if you did make a momentary mistake, admitting so maybe a quick way to jail and to lose your kids forever.
CPS agents are not above lying to you to prove you guilty of something, so don’t trust what they say. They won’t understand and won’t give you a break. Also, they will use anything you say against you and even make stuff up. Don’t make it easy on them.
1. What are Child Protective Service Agency (CPS) and what do they do?
CPS is an agency responsible for protecting children from being abuse or neglected.
2. Does CPS or ACS have an absolute right to interrogate my child?
CPS and ACS workers, by statute, are entitled to interview your child. If you refuse to give them an interview at your home, they may go to the child’s school and interview him or her there.
3. Can a CPS worker refuse to tell me why they are investigating you?
No! CPS workers are to advise you of the allegations that are against you when they first contact with you . The allegations should be specific. They should not be simply child abuse or child neglect.
4. CPS or ACS may be making specific demands upon you. Do you need to comply?
No! CPS and ACS investigators make all types of ridiculous, condescending, inappropriate, non-factually backed demands upon parents. They claim that these demands are backed by law and the parents need to comply.
5. What rights, if any, do children removed from a parent’s home have?
They have the right to be protected, free from harm, danger, child abuse and child neglect. Also, they have a right to have appropriate health care and have emotional and psychological problems dealt with. Also they are also entitled to shelter, food, and have their basic needs met.
Child Protective Services investigations are scary, intimidating times for a family. But remember that CPS has its limits and families have rights.
Remember that there is a network of attorneysacross the globe waiting to represent you during every step of an investigation, whether the allegations concern homeschooling or not.
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