It’s the visit no parent wishes to receive. Child Protective Services (CPS) is at the door and wants to speak to you concerning your child. It’s reflexive to become defensive or fearful when this happens. Knowing how to respond appropriately when emotions are high can improve your chances for coming out on top in your case.
Why CPS gets involved
You may receive a visit from the authorities if they child is abused, neglected, abandoned or at-risk for any of the above. If someone has reported you to CPS, chances are the agency is in the fact-finding stage of their investigation. Much like yourself, they’re concerned with the well-being of the child.
What to avoid
Reacting inappropriately can give the investigator the wrong idea about you as a parent. Here are a few things to avoid:
- React emotionally. This is understandably a difficult moment for any parent. Lashing out in anger or frustration at the investigator will be detrimental to your case.
- Don’t ask questions. You have the right to know what the investigation is about. Ask questions about the purpose of the visit and challenge questions that are irrelevant to the stated purpose of their investigation. Be respectful and cooperative but don’t incriminate yourself.
- Be uncooperative. Denying entrance to the investigator or refusing an interview could come off as uncooperative. If you must refuse, do so respectfully and offer alternate times, locations or ideas for services.
Have a plan
If you’re involved in a situation where you expect CPS to investigate your home, having a strategy can create an advantage. Defending your family is an emotional experience and the best way to do that with a level-headed approach and a firm but respectful demeanor. Your rights still matter in this difficult time.