What happens if you have an investigation by child protective services (CPS) and you do not have an attorney?
Among other things, in most CPS investigations, the investigator is required by protocol to conduct a “home visit.” This is especially the case when the allegations involve younger children or the condition of the home.
During the home visit, the investigator will typically conduct a walk-through of the entire house and take pictures along the way. The investigator is generally looking to confirm that the residence is appropriate for the children who live there. While doing the inspection, there are normally several specific areas where investigators will focus and questions they will seek to answer.
- Is the home clean?
- Is the home free of clutter, piles of laundry, and overflowing trash?
- Is the home free of noxious smells?
- Is the home free of animal waste, except in appropriate litter areas?
- Is the home free of roaches and other pests?
- Is the yard mowed and otherwise maintained?
- Are the refrigerator, pantry, and freezer adequately stocked?
- Are they free of any rotting or moldy food?
- Are any firearms stored in a locked cabinet or safe?
- Is the ammunition stored separately?
- Do opposite-sex children ages five and older have separate bedrooms?
- Is at least one window in each bedroom completely free from obstruction?
- Are children under 18 months in a crib?
- Is any crib free of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, or other material?
CHEMICALS, MEDICINE, ALCOHOL
- Are hazardous chemicals, medicine, and liquors stored out of the reach of younger children?
OTHER SAFETY ISSUES
- If the home has a pool or other water feature, is it within a locked gate or otherwise made inaccessible to younger children who cannot swim?
- If the home is near a busy road, is the yard adequately fenced to keep smaller children from getting into the road?
- Are smaller children prevented from accessing fuel, machinery, and hazardous equipment in any garage or shop?
In addition to answering the questions above, if the allegations involve the condition of the home, the investigator will pay particular attention to any areas mentioned in the report.
In the event of a CPS investigation, the investigator will typically want a “yes” answer to all of these questions (even if you are not under investigation, reviewing these questions may be a helpful risk-assessment audit for your family).
Having a stranger come into your home for the first time can often feel awkward. In a CPS investigation, that awkwardness can rise to the level of serious stress and even trauma.
Not only is the CPS investigator inspecting your home from the inside out with a critical eye, but they are prompted to do so by a report of allegations of child abuse or neglect. Moreover, the investigator is a government agent and is there to collect evidence about you.
The initial stages of a CPS investigation are generally the most critical. You will not get a second chance to make a first impression. Among many other reasons, this is why we stress the importance of having an attorney. It is not just to protect your rights and to keep your children from being wrongfully taken away from you. It is also to protect you and your family from unnecessary and unreasonable intrusions into your privacy and home. While having an attorney is no guarantee of the outcome, it goes a long way to making sure any investigation goes much more smoothly and that your rights are vigorously protected.
If you are a member of Heritage Defense and your family is ever falsely accused of child abuse or neglect through social services, we are ready to defend you and your rights.
If you are not yet a member, please learn more about joining to have 24/7 access to experienced, Christian attorneys ready to defend your family.