Knowing what to avoid and do with CPS is as important as having a child protective services investigator knock on your door and ask to talk to you. It is a sign that you could be facing an ugly divorce and a potential conviction for child abuse.
The purpose of child protective services was to coordinate public and private child-related work. Issues of abuse and neglect were addressed in the Social Security Act of 1930.
A CPS investigation is serious business and can have life-altering consequences if things go wrong. It’s not to be taken lightly considering what to avoid and do with CPS.
So let’s step way back from that nightmare for a moment and tell you more about what to avoid and do with CPS whenever you have them at your doorsteps.
What to Avoid and Do with CPS
Knowing that CPS is investigating you or a loved one can be traumatic, specifically if a social worker shows up at your door with questions for you and your children.
The first thing you should do in this scenario is contact a skilled defense attorney.
He or she will guide you through every step of your case, delivering wise legal counsel that will assist you make decisions that will positively impact your future.
After you’ve located a seasoned CPS lawyer in Michigan, there are several common mistakes to avoid to put yourself on track to reaching your desired verdict.
9 Common Mistakes to Avoid with Child Protective Services
It can be very easy for a parent to slip up and turn the eventual court case against them without proper knowledge of what to avoid and do with CPS.
To minimize or avoid criminal charges altogether, it is important to know common missteps that the accused often make in these scenarios to worsen their situations.
These mistakes include all but not limited to the following:
1. Not Knowing Your Rights
As with other states, California does allow you to refuse a CPS investigator’s entry if they come to your house to question you.
Unless they carry the proper warrant, they cannot forcefully come into your house. Should that happen, you can bring this issue up with the courtroom.
You also have the right to refuse an investigator’s questions, but you must be careful which ones you choose not to answer.
If you refuse questions that are very relevant to the case or try to minimize the case, the investigator will become increasingly suspicious of your behavior.
2. Answering Too Much
While you do not want to leave the investigator completely in the dark, you also need to be careful with how much information you choose to reveal.
These investigators are trying to find anything that can prove you guilty of abuse, so any slightly excessive detail will be used against you.
Before the interview in or out of the courtroom, make sure you ask your fair share of questions to the investigator.
Ask them what the allegations against you are and what type of information they are looking for. It can aid you in preparing your response to their interrogation.
3. Being Uncooperative
Though it is important to state your rights to the investigator, you must also do so politely and allow some of their investigation if you want to avoid suspicion.
If you act rude, overly nervous, or combative when they talk to you, then it could justify the accusations against you and will be used in the courtroom.
Just like a DUI stop, even if you have the right to refuse their approach, you should consider what the consequences will be and how you go about doing so.
If you have nothing to hide, going along with their investigation can minimize some of their suspicions. Just do not assume that you are completely out of trouble after they interview you.
4. Not Asking What the Allegations Are
CPS is mandated by law to inform you about the allegations made against you.
When a CPS investigation is undertaken, the agency should provide the parent or caregiver with an initial explanation of the reported child abuse or neglect claims.
Failing to ask about the specific allegations and potential charges can have serious repercussions.
You need to understand the specifics of the allegations to communicate with the investigators and help your attorney with your defense.
5. Not Having An Attorney
Having an attorney when Child Protective Services (CPS) is investigating is highly advisable, particularly if the case can result in serious consequences, such as removing a child from the home.
6. Signing Documents Without Understanding
CPS may request you to sign various documents. Don’t sign anything without totally understanding what it is or having it reviewed by your attorney.
7. Losing Your Temper
It can be stressful to deal with CPS, but losing your temper won’t support your case. It’s crucial to stay calm and respectful at all times.
8. Missing Court Dates or Meetings
You must attend every court proceeding and meeting related to your matter. Failing to do so can be viewed negatively and can damage your claim.
9. Violating Court Orders
Violating court orders related to a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation can have severe consequences.
Court orders are legal mandates, and failing to comply with them can lead to penalties and can negatively affect your case.
The repercussions of these mistakes can be damaging.
Not only can they impede the investigation, but they can also negatively affect your relationship with CPS, possibly even jeopardizing your parental rights.
Best Practices When Dealing with CPS
It is expected that you maintain the following attitude as part of what to avoid and do with CPS during CPS investigations to help them get to the root of the matter easily.
1. Honesty and Openness
Honesty is the best approach. Be as open and forthcoming with CPS as you possibly can. This assists in establishing trust and aids in the efficient resolution of the investigation.
2. Respect and Professionalism
Treat all dealings with CPS with respect and professionalism. This goes a long way in preserving a positive relationship with the agency.
3. Keeping Good Records
Keeping detailed records of all interactions with CPS can be highly profitable. Document everything, from phone calls to appointments, and keep all written correspondence.
This can assist in protecting your rights and ensuring the accuracy of information only if you keep to these guidelines on what to avoid and do with CPS.
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What to Do When CPS is Investigating You
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.
Still on what to avoid and do with CPS, 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 audio if you can afford to do that instead.
Furthermore, you must document everything that happens in writing according to an English activist’s recommendation.
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, or 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.
The only exception would be if the child protective services agent shows up with a law enforcement officer bearing 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 investigate referrals, then naturally this person would be suspect if s/he never had a kid.
Remember, even if you like the person, behind every pleasant personality is a need to keep the child protective services social worker job.
Be aware of Service Plans
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 means is that they don’t have enough evidence to take your child into their custody.
However, if you just go to their service providers they may get the evidence they need through these service provider reports.
Just Say “NO” to Private Interviews
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 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 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 as part of what to avoid and do with CPS that public schools are one of the major sources of CPS referrals.
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What CPS Considers Before Registering a Report
When CPS receives a report or tip, it must first determine whether or not an investigation is needed.
A caller does not have to be certain or have proof of abuse or neglect, however, reasonable suspicion is required. Here are their structured lines of thought:
1. Identity and Location: Firstly, CPS identifies and locates the child and family being reported.
2. Age of the Child: Depending on state law, CPS usually only investigates cases of children under 18 years old.
3. Jurisdiction: CPS considers the state laws around such cases and tallies it with its line of action to be sure of what legal steps to take.
4. Person Legally Responsible: Is the abuser a parent, legal guardian, foster care provider, or other adult responsible for the child’s care? If not, CPS does not have jurisdiction.
5. Allegations: Does the alleged conduct constitute abuse? If CPS determines that the alleged conduct is not abuse, then there probably won’t be any investigation.
When Either Abuse or Neglect is Detected
If Child Protective Services determines that there may be abuse or neglect, a report will be registered, and then CPS will begin an investigation.
CPS will most likely also make a report to the police. After this, the police may conduct their own investigation within 24 hours of a report.
In cases of child abuse whether you are indicted or not, it is advised that you cooperate with the child protective services to track the crime.
Failure to do so might have negative implications for everyone involved or not involved including the larger society.
In the worst-case scenario, the criminal got away with the crime undetected.
To wrap up, child protective services investigations are scary, intimidating times for a family. But remember that CPS has its limits and families have rights.
However, remember that there is a network of attorneys across the globe waiting to represent you during every step of an investigation, whether the allegations concern homeschooling or not.