CPS Has Removed My Children – Now What?
If CPS has been investigating an allegation of abuse and neglect, there is a chance that CPS may determine that the children are not safe in your care and as a result, CPS will remove the children from your home. In these circumstances, time is of the essence and it is important to understand the next step in resolving the abuse and neglect allegations. This article deals with the first hearing after the children are removed by CPS known as the Preliminary Protective Hearing.
1. What is the Preliminary Protective Hearing?
A preliminary protective hearing (PPH) is a hearing with the District Attorney, the CPS investigator, the parents/guardians of the child and the judge. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether the child should remain removed from the home or whether the child can be immediately returned to the home. Keep in mind that unless you hire an attorney for this hearing, you WILL NOT be represented by a lawyer. Everything you say in the hearing, may be held against you as your case progresses.
2. How long do I have to wait for the PPH?
The requires that if a child is removed from the home, there must be a hearing within 72 hours. This timeframe excludes holidays and weekends. If CPS is investigating but has not removed the children, there is no timeframe for a hearing.
3. How will I know when my hearing is?
The law requires that CPS notify a parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare by either (1) personal service of a written notice; (2) orally; or (3) by posting a written notice on the door. There are thousands of horror stories about parents’ who were not notified of the PPH by CPS in a timely or appropriate manner. If your child was removed, you must badger the CPS worker and/or the District Attorney into telling you the date, time and location of your hearing. DO NOT WAIT until CPS contacts you.
4. What will happen at the PPH?
Usually, the DA’s office will prepare a Report that will be provided to the judge before the hearing. You should demand a copy of the report before the hearing so that you will know exactly what the allegations against you are. At the time of the hearing, the judge will first ask everyone at the hearing to identify themselves and their role in the case. Then, the Court will hear from the District Attorney and the CPS investigator. The DA and investigator will explain to the Court why the children were removed and will make an argument as to why the children should not be returned. The parents/guardians of the child will have the chance to argue against the removal and will have the chance to present limited evidence to the judge as to why the children should be returned. Again, if you are not represented by an attorney at the PPH everything you say may be used against you as the case continues. In addition, if CPS or the DA is considering a criminal case against you, everything you say can be used against you in a criminal case. Once the judge hears from everyone present, the judge will decide if there is “reasonable cause to believe it is contrary to the child’s welfare to return home or if it is in the best interests of the child to be placed outside of the home.”
5. What happens if the case is not dismissed?
If the judge decides there is enough to move forward with a case, the DA will file a petition setting forth the specific allegations of abuse and neglect. The judge will set a plea hearing and must set an adjudicatory hearing within 30 days after the petition is filed.
If your children have been removed from your home by CPS it is extremely important to have a qualified and knowledgeable attorney representing you from the very beginning. If you or someone you know is facing a PPH, our office can help.