CPS Investigations

Are you or someone you know being investigated by the Department of Family and Protective Services, commonly referred to as Child Protective Services (CPS)? If so, this means that someone (who remains anonymous) made a report of child abuse or neglect and CPS then becomes involved an opens an investigation. This can be a scary process and not one that you want to take lightly.

The initial steps in the investigation are that a CPS investigator will reach out to you, schedule at time to come to the home and discuss the allegations with you as well as investigate your home. The CPS investigator might even visit your children at school and interview them to determine if there any basis to the allegations that were made. The CPS investigator will also interview the other parent and make contact with them.

If the CPS investigator does find reason to believe or does find that the allegations are true or have basis, but does not determine the child is in any immediate danger, the CPS investigator might open a case and meet with both parents again and have you and whoever else is around the children (such as stepparents) agree to and sign what they call a Safety Plan. This is where you would agree to do or refrain from doing certain things during the pending investigation. CPS might even recommend that you complete certain services while their investigation is pending. For instance, you might be ordered to complete substance abuse counseling, Batters Intervention and Prevention Program counseling, anger management, and so forth.

If the CPS investigator takes it a step further and determines that your home is no longer safe for the child, the CPS investigator might ask you to agree to allow the child to live somewhere else for a while until you can complete the recommended services and comply with the Safety Plan agreement. This might mean that the child or children go to live with the other parent or a relative of yours.

The hopefully last but worst resort is an emergency removal of the child. If they find any basis for the allegations and feel that the child should be removed from your home, they will file an emergency removal of the child with the courts and conduct a hearing without you being present. This means that CPS finds that your situation is very bad and they cannot determine at the time safe place for the child OR that you will not agree to have the child or children placed with a relative or other parent. The court then considers the CPS affidavit/allegations and determines whether or not to issue an order for the removal of the child.

It is advisable that you contact an attorney as soon as you learn that you are being investigated by CPS. You might even want to retain the attorney to be present with you during the CPS interview that you must attend. If a case is filed and your children are removed, you will need an attorney as soon as possible because you will have a hearing come up very quickly after the emergency removal is completed. Be sure to save any documents/cards that CPS gives to you. You need all of this for your records.