What to do if CPS takes your child
If CPS is contacted and is investigating you for an allegation of abuse or neglect, you should take the matter seriously, no matter how ridiculous the allegation. CPS has the authority to take your child from your care if the CPS investigator believes that your child is not safe with you. This may seem like the CPS investigator has a lot of power because they do. The legal term for taking a child from a parent is called “removal.” If your child is removed from your care by CPS, consider these tips:
- Remain Calm: It is a very emotional thing to have a child placed into protective custody by CPS and it is understandable that most parents lose their cool when this happens. However, you have a better chance of getting your child back if you stay calm. Don’t argue with the investigator or make a scene. This wont help your case and your behaviors will be reported to the judge. Instead, do your best to remain calm, provide necessary information to the investigator and obtain as much information from the investigator as possible.
- Provide the investigator with names of friends or family members that can take your child. If CPS decides that your child cannot stay with you in your home, the child will be taken to a CPS facility if there are no friends or family that can take the child. If your child is being removed, give the CPS investigator a list of friends or family the investigator can call to take your child until the investigation is complete. The person taking your child does not have to be related to you. It can be a friend, neighbor, teacher, church pastor or anyone else that you feel comfortable with to care for your child temporarily. The person must be able to pass a background investigation so it is important to provide the investigator with several people just in case your first choice cannot pass background.
- Find out what you need to do to get your child back into your care. The CPS investigator is required to explain to you why the child is being taken from you. Don’t settle for an explanation of “we think your child was abused” or “your child is not safe with you.” Ask the investigator specifically why your child is being removed. Is it that your home isn’t safe? Are they concerned about drug use or domestic violence in the home? Make the investigator give you a specific reason as to why your child is being taken and ask them to give you some guidance on what you can do to get your child back. While you may not agree with the investigator’s allegations, you should consider addressing the concerns of the investigator before you go to Court. Addressing the investigator’s concerns early will help you get your child back faster.
- Get visitation set up with your child before the investigator leaves your home. It may be a few days before you see a judge to get visitation established with your child. Demand that the CPS investigator set up visitation for you and your child before the CPS investigator leaves your home with the child. You are entitled to a minimum of one hour per week with your child. Make sure the investigator has something set up for you to see your child.
- Talk to a lawyer. Getting solid legal advice about your CPS case from the very beginning is essential to having your children returned to your care. A lawyer knowledgeable in the dependency system can help address the concerns of the CPS investigator, determine what you need to do to have your child returned to you and may even be able to keep your case out of court. The moment CPS becomes involved in your life, you should have an attorney on your side.
- Make your appointments. If CPS takes your child, you will be given a court date. It is imperative that you attend court on the day the investigator tells you to be there. If the investigator asks you to attend meetings or sets up visitation for you, it is extremely important that you attend. This information will be reported to the judge and could affect the speed with which your children are returned to you.
- Identify any special needs or circumstances for your child. It is extremely important that the CPS investigator be aware of any special needs your child may have. If your child is on medication or requires extra support in school, make sure to inform the investigator. In addition, at the outset of your case, if you have any Native American Heritage, you need to let your investigator know immediately as this will affect the way your case is handled.
If you or someone you know has had your children removed by CPS, we can help. Our office has handled hundreds of CPS cases and we are experienced in all aspects of the dependency system. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation.