How to Fight a Child Protective Services Decision
Child Protective Services (CPS) is under the California Department of Social Services. It is the state’s intervention system to stop child abuse and neglect. The goal of CPS is to ensure that children are safe in their homes and to find new solutions for children who are unsafe. CPS is required to act on any report it receives of suspected child abuse or neglect. It will investigate, intervene as needed, and provide whatever services the child needs to be safe.
What Happens if Someone Reports You to CPS?
CPS is required to act on every tip or phone call it receives alleging suspected child abuse or neglect. It is not difficult for a misunderstanding to lead to false accusations. Parents may even be falsely accused maliciously and forced to go through a CPS investigation. Investigators may:
- Conduct a physical examination of the home
- Interview the parents
- Interview the child
- Perform a physical examination of the child
What Are the Possible Outcomes When CPS Challenges You?
It is in your best interests to have an experienced family law attorney by your side throughout a CPS investigation. Depending on the findings of the investigation, your child could be removed from your home, or you may have “Family Preservation and Support Services” imposed on you. It is usually a last resort for CPS to remove a child from the home. If it determines that a residence is unsafe for a child , there are other options to ensure separation from the parents is not permanent.
What Is Considered Child Abuse in California?
CPS services are available to children and families when children are at risk of or victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or parental absence. Under state law, any of the following is considered child abuse:
- A child is physically injured by anything other than accidental means
- A child is subjected to unjustifiable punishment or willful cruelty
- A child is abused or exploited sexually
- A child is neglected by a parent or caretaker who fails to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, supervision, or medical care
What Are Your Rights If CPS Investigate You?
If someone reports to CPS that they suspect you of child abuse or neglect, you will have to undergo a CPS investigation, regardless of whether those allegations are completely unfounded. When dealing with CPS, it is important to know that you have rights and to understand what they are.
- CPS cannot enter your home without your permission.
- You are not required to take a drug test simply because CPS asks you to. Unless investigators produce a court order, you have a right to refuse the test.
- You have a right to be present at any court hearings concerning your case.
- You still have your parental rights, even if CPS removes your child from your home or takes legal custody temporarily.
- If your child is removed from your home and placed in foster care, you have a right to regular phone calls with your child, and possibly in-person visits if allowed by the court.
How Do You Fight a CPS Decision Concerning Your Child and Family?
You have a right to deny any allegations CPS makes against you and a right to an attorney throughout the entire process. If CPS wants to place your child in foster care, present a list of relatives who will be willing to take your child instead. If CPS brings up old allegations, such as a drug possession charge from many years ago, be prepared with documentation that you have completed a court-ordered program.
Our San Diego family law attorneys at Mattis Law, A.P.C., can serve as dedicated advocates for you and your children. Contact us at (858) 328-4400 if you are dealing with CPS.