Your Rights With A CPS

The Report

It is illegal to not report child abuse if it is suspected. Doctors, lawyers, and therapists are required by law to make a report if they think a child is being abused. Whoever makes the report will remain anonymous by law.

Taking Children

Child Protective Services can legally take your children. If a report is made and CPS determines that a child is in danger, they have the right to remove them from that situation and any unsafe environment. Unsafe environment includes use of illegal drugs in the house, a home with not enough food or health care, firearms being left in the open in a home, physical violence happening to the child, or sexual contact with the child.

After Removal

Parents will be notified in writing by CPS and they will provide all papers that support removal filed with the court. All papers include a statement about the reasons for the removal by the investigator. 14 days later, a court hearing will be held. The judge decides whether the child should be returned to the home, stay with a family member, or remain in CPS custody at the hearing. The judge can also order various counseling activities for parents or caregivers such as attending parenting classes, completing an anger management courses, going through a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program and other requirements.

Service Plan

To allow the child to be returned home, a service plan is written with CPS recommendations and steps that must be taken. It is not a court order and cannot be enforced, but failure to follow the plan can be used against the family that they are not cooperating. At meetings between CPS and family members, the plan can be changed or renewed.

· You have the right to talk to your caseworker. Remember that communications between you and the caseworker are not confidential and can be used in court.

· You have the right to a court appointed attorney if CPS files a lawsuit again you.

· You can deny any allegations made by the CPS.

· You have the right to attend all court hearings about your case.

· If you do not know English, you have the right to an interpreter.

· You have a right to bring your child home after the service plan has expired unless:

–the service plan is renewed, or

–there is a court order (signed by a judge) saying that you can’t.

Case Length

18 months from the time of the child’s removal is the longest amount of time the case will stay open. If a lawsuit isn’t started by CPS to terminate parental rights by 18 months, the case automatically closes. It is a good idea to get written confirmation that the case is closed before you take your child back. The person your child has been living with can file for custody and get child support from you after 6 months, so it is important to act quickly.