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Do NOT make these 5 mistakes with CPS!

Do NOT make these 5 mistakes with CPS!

There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush and flood of shame that hits when you open the door to find someone from Child Protective Services (CPS) on your doorstep. It’s horrifying. It’s embarrassing. You immediately start to remember every CPS horror story you’ve ever heard and you begin to worry.

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Of course, you get defensive… but you know you’re a good parent. You want to cooperate because being cooperative has to be seen as a good thing, right?

Hold on. Hold up. Breathe. You’re about to make a whole bunch of rookie mistakes that could come back to haunt you later.

First of all… you must take every visit from CPS seriously, no matter how ridiculous the allegations are.

Now, more than ever, low income families are being targeted by CPS as people confuse poverty with neglect. No winter coat? That alone could trigger a call to CPS.

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There are many innocent situations that could get you reported to Child Protective Services, including seeking a second opinion on a medical treatment.

Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking this can’t happen to you. No matter how good of a parent you are, a Child Protective Services visit can happen to anyone…

…and if you’re not careful, you could make a serious mistake before you even really know what’s happening.

I know because it’s happened to me!

Don’t make these 5 mistakes!

#1: Do NOT defend yourself!

Breathe. Be calm… and be quiet!

I know how it feels. You feel that sudden rush of adrenaline. You feel accused, shameful, inadequate, upset and under attack. You may even feel anger – especially if you think you know who made the call!

Stay calm. Don’t show your anger or anxiety and, no matter how hard it is, DO NOT DEFEND YOURSELF! The more you say, the more they know! Do NOT volunteer information for any reason. I understand the urge to be cooperative but you could just be making things worse for yourself later.

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Most CPS referrals are very vague. They only know what was reported to them and usually that information is not very specific. If you jump in and defend yourself, anything you say could be used against you later.

Once a CPS investigation has begun, they will investigate every aspect of your family. Even if the allegations against you are false, they will be paying attention for other items of concern and can begin investigating other allegations based on their findings.

The best defense? A closed mouth.

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#2: Do NOT let them in the house!

It’s true! Unless they have a warrant and/or there is an obvious emergency, they cannot force themselves into your home. Even if a police officer is present, they can only enter your home if you consent, if they have a warrant OR if they hear an emergency situation going on.

Do NOT consent to let CPS in your home! 

Decide now what you will say if CPS ever shows up and wants to enter your home. Keep it simple, polite and firm. I’m fond of saying “This isn’t a good time for me but I’m happy to schedule a visit on _______.”

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Of course, you have the right to refuse and you don’t need to explain why. Remember, NO is a complete sentence!

Whatever you do, do NOT explain why you don’t want them in the house! Avoid saying things like “it’s a mess right now.” Depending on the allegations, you could be strengthening the case against you!

Know your rights!

If you do let them inside, you can ask them to stop or leave at any time. Unless they obtain a warrant, they are just like anyone else visiting your home. You have the right to make them leave at any time.

Even police are not allowed into your home without a court order or the presence of an emergency situation. If either CPS or police try to enter your home, ask what the emergency is and inform them you will be video recording once they enter the home.

If police do force themselves into your home, do not physically resist. Allow them in, state that you object to their violation of your rights and state that you wish to have an attorney present. These statements may assist you in a later court hearing.

#3: Do NOT forget to ask these important questions – and record the answers!

I was still dazed when the CPS investigator left my house. I immediately called an attorney and my mother-in-law… and then I realized just how much I didn’t know. I didn’t know the investigator’s name. I didn’t know what I was accused of. I didn’t know anything, really.

That’s a bad thing.

Here are a few questions you absolutely need to have answered – and be sure to record or write down the answers!

  1. Can I see your ID?
  2. What is the name and phone number of your supervisor?
  3. What are the exact allegations that have been made against me?
  4. Do you have a warrant to search my home or speak to my children?

Federal law gives you the right to know the exact nature of the allegations against you. If they say something vague, like “child abuse” or “environmental neglect,” demand specific answers. Sometimes, they will be very reluctant to tell you exactly what the accusations are but you have the legal right to this information!

If the investigator states they have a warrant, ask to see it. Be sure it is actually signed and dated by a judge!

Can I really record the conversation?

Most states require mutual consent to record conversations. As soon as they state who they are, ask for permission to record the conversation.

Most smartphones have built-in apps that can provide audio and video recording. If you want to audio without using the camera, this Smart Voice recorder by SmartMob is one of my favorites.

You most likely will not get consent to record the conversation with either audio or video. However, you can refuse to participate in an interview if you can’t record it… and if they try to force their way inside, inform them that you will absolutely be recording any entry into your home.

Even if they say no to audio/video recording, you can still take notes! Whip out your favorite memo app and start taking notes on the conversation. In a pinch, you can do this in an email or text message draft.

If you need to get your cell phone from your home, leave them at the door and say “I need to get something.” Close the door and hurry back! Don’t give them more time to look around than necessary!

#4: Do NOT assume you can’t get legal help just because you can’t afford it.

During that initial CPS contact, state your intention to get an attorney even if you can’t afford one. I know – this is a website for low income people and attorneys are VERY expensive. I understand that.

However, there are many free legal services available. We have a full list of free legal aid agencies in all 50 states right here!

Also, most lawyers provide a FREE 30 minute consultation on your first visit. When CPS visited us a few weeks ago, we followed up with a local family law attorney and received some very good advice during our free 30 minute visit!

If possible, arrange for any interviews to be held in front of an attorney. This can be costly, especially if you are paying to have the attorney come to your home.

If all else fails, request to audio/video record any interviews. This will most likely be denied but it’s worth trying.

#5 – Do NOT assume they have a court order – or even enough evidence to get one.

As I said before, CPS usually doesn’t have a lot of information in the first place. Don’t assume they have a court order or even enough evidence to get one!

They cannot come in your home without a court order unless they witness an emergency taking place.

They cannot take your children away without a court order except in exigent circumstances. Child Protective Services cannot simply take your children away from your home. Except in exigent circumstances, a court order is required before CPS can legally remove a child from your home without your consent. Exigent means that an emergency is actively taking place and action must be taken immediately.

Law enforcement have their own laws and regulations regarding the removal of children. However, CPS cannot take custody of the child from the police until the court order is complete.

It’s the same situation with hospitals. Without a court order, CPS cannot ask a hospital to detain a child in temporary custody.

Always ask to see the court order! To be valid, the court order must be signed by a judge.

No signature? No court order? No authority!

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Ready for the good news?!

Child Protective Services (CPS) offers many services and programs can help your family.

There are some really beneficial programs offered by CPS. Even if you are investigated – and even if the allegations are deemed unfounded – you may be able to get some valuable help from this agency!

Among other things, CPS can provide your family with food vouchers, free diapers and even help with housing! After our recent investigation, we were given $500 toward our utility bills!

One of the most important things to remember is that Child Protective Services investigators are just people doing their jobs. Sometimes they miss things and sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes, they see some truly horrific things. At the end of the day, they just want to leave their jobs and move on with their lives. They don’t hate you and they aren’t after your children.

That being said, EVERY investigation is a serious matter. Just because CPS can help you doesn’t mean you should let your guard down!

Get more info about what CPS can and cannot do here.

feeling sad for the kids

Wednesday 5th of June 2024

What is crazy is they are not for the kids parents can just beat and abuse and CPS can't do anything about it. i think this is crazy and there is no help for kids they are for the sorry parents' wow

M. ROBINSON

Sunday 18th of June 2023

I never in my life would have thought this would happen to me but it did. Im a sixty year old man living with my Son. His Mother died a few years ago do to a over dose. Now thats a hell of a way to go but when a person burns their light to bright those things happen. I had seen this happen to other people but never in my years did I think this would happen to me, It did. My girlfriend was a Narrisist. I had never been around a person with those problems before. I thought that maybe she just didnt know but she knew. She knew how move her pieces around and a lot of things, I never did know thank God. She was great in the begining. i thought I had found my soul mate. Wrong, she was something I never dealt with before and thier was two of them, a mother. As time went on I was put in some bad situations but me I aint no quitter. So the things keep happening and I stayed and put up with it. Well then, she got pregnant. We had a Son. Well, when he was about five months, she took my son and drop him off at one of her friends' houses that I had never meant before and went and partied. Well she was lying to her about me saying that I was beating on her which was not true. Somehow thay ended up at CPS. So CPS came to my house and ask me was I using drug. I made a bad move. I told them the truth. I had used some powder but I didnt use every day and I took care of my Boy and paid my bills. You see some of us can be responsible. Wrong answer, thay dont care. The next thing I knew my Son was taken out of the home and place in foster care for 60 days then I had to attend self help groups and take UAs for six months. I never in my years had someone come in my life and turn it upside down like that before. So what am I saying, never say anything to them. Yes the things that thay made me do, thay did help, but at the same time thay didnt have to take my son out of the house. I completed the program but my girlfriend keep relapsing and she ended up dying because of her addiction. Their were so many things I didnt know about her. I wish I would have not listen to her. That was my mistake. Today I dont listen I watch what a person does. These younger people today think that lying is fair game. I was brought up to be honest have some pride about your self. I still live honest but CPS doesnt have your best interest in mind. Dont say anything to them. Let a Lawyer talk to them. Thay have to many trick to use against you. Im glad that everything worked out for me. All Thay had to do was to tell me to stop doing what I was doing. Im a Adult. Give me a chance to handle things myself and if I cant do it them you can remove my son.

Robert DeBeaux

Wednesday 7th of June 2023

I am the grandfather, and I have NO standing in Texas. I was required to file as an "intervenor" to try and make sure my granddaughter did not get adopted out. Everyone knows the story; Lying, cheating, violating fundamental liberties without shame, all at the parent's expense. Well, I did hire a lawyer. Even though I am paying the tab, it seems clear he is NOT interested in protecting MY or my granddaughter's interests at all. His go to is to do what ever CPS says to do. I am down $6000 and I still defend my own Rights. Just 2 days ago I told the CPS "Placement Specialist" that her questions are bordering on 5th Amendment violations. Do you think that stopped her from asking any more intrusive questions? Or even being concerned that I am represented by counsel? NOT AT ALL. So my two cents are; even getting a lawyer may not help. I am not rich, and this is costing more than 95% of people could possibly afford. Still no word on my granddaughter or my lawyer.

Chris

Saturday 13th of May 2023

@Deninse Jackson, they just did the same to my wife and I with her two oldest children. The sad thing I have come to realize is that even if you try to file a complaint at the state level they won't do anything for you except tell you to get a lawyer and that they will not file the complaint because it needs to go through the county. Problem is its the county that is doing it all not just the state entity that they are. They harass you until you get upset then they take you court and implant themselves in your home without court orders or any type of reasoning and complete disregard for you right to privacy. It's bull crap in my opinion.

Christina Ford

Tuesday 28th of February 2023

@Bless, my sister is going through the same thing they took her son to the hospital and she had my brother come to pick him up they said they did a drug test on him and found drugs when he was there for a fall from the swing!