Just the term “Child Protective Services” or “CPS” can strike fear into the hearts of the toughest of people. They are typically underfunded, understaffed, and overworked. They don’t have to have higher education to become a social worker or “agent” (as they’re sometimes called). Making matters worse for everyone – there are financial incentives that pervert the system making it advantageous to take children out of their homes and place them in foster care. Sometimes, the system follows-through with placing the children for adoption.
When there is just-cause, we have no problem with it. All too often, the horror cases slip through the cracks, resulting (at worst) in a dead child. In the meantime, normal, every day unsuspecting families can find themselves immersed in a miserable hell, losing their children and trying to find a way to get them back. Sometime, they never do.
All it takes is a single, anonymous phone call to a CPS office and it won’t be long until they’re at your door. This has happened to us, and while we didn’t follow all of the tips that you’ll read here at that time, we did undertake some of the very important ones and the “case” went away after one visit and a caseworker admonishing my ex-wife to cease-and-desist on the repeated phones calls or she would come to court and testify on my behalf! “Jane” never called again and we’ve had no problems. When the call or knock comes, it’s time to move into preparation mode:
Preparing in Advance
- Audio and/or Video Recorder at the ready.
- Three-Ring Binder or Spiral Notebook at the ready.
- File folders labeled for the Child Protective Services Agents. This is where you’ll have appropriate copies of applicable laws, rules, and regulations demonstrating that you know what you’re rights are and that you mean business.
- Copies of your state’s and federal laws regarding CPS (or other similar moniker). Court cases that would support your cause. Heck, even the Bill of Rights and United States Constitution.
- Newspaper articles and scholarly articles about the pitfalls of state custody homes. Stats stats and more stats!
- Recent doctor’s and dentist’s reports demonstrating the children are in good health.
- Be ready to ask about what “imminent danger” exists that would result in their needing to remove the child from the home. Be sure to note any lag time between the report date and their showing up. A duration of days, a week, or longer will undermine any claim of “imminent danger.”
It is not necessary that you share this information with the agent. In fact, don’t. Let them work to build your case. It is not your job to prove your innocence (at the outset) – it’s their job to prove there is a serious problem. Don’t give ammunition to the enemy to use on you.
We welcome your stories and sharing your tips, tricks, or warnings that are born of your experience in dealing with CPS and a false allegation of child abuse. Stop by the forums.