How Can I Get My Child Back from Child Protective Services?
The law requires Child Protective Services (CPS) to investigate child abuse or neglect allegations. Someone might report suspected abuse or neglect during divorce proceedings or child custody negotiations.
CPS might release the child into your care if the allegations are unfounded. However, you must follow a specific process before that can happen.
Investigating Child Abuse or Neglect in Virginia
During a CPS investigation, the CPS worker can complete various steps to determine whether the child is the victim of abuse or neglect, such as:
- Observe the living environment and the location of the alleged neglect or abuse
- Complete a risk assessment and determine whether the family requires services to prevent additional child abuse or neglect
- Check for signs of neglect, injury, or abuse
- Conduct interviews with both parents, the child, and the alleged abuser
- Interview other people familiar with the family and child, including teachers, relatives, and doctors
- Review previous reports of abuse or neglect
- Perform an initial safety assessment and establish a safety plan for the child if necessary
- Interview and observe the child’s siblings
The CPS worker must complete their investigation within 45 to 60 days of the initial report or allegations of abuse or neglect. The timeframe can increase to 90 days if local law enforcement investigates.
Separating the Child from the Home
The CPS worker should help you and your family create a plan to keep your child in the home and ensure their safety. However, the worker might have to remove your child if they can’t determine whether the child will be safe staying in the home.
They can temporarily place your child in a foster home or a relative’s care. They might also require the alleged abuser to live elsewhere during the investigation.
Issuing a Decision After the CPS Investigation
When the CPS worker completes their investigation, they will decide whether they agree or disagree with the allegations. They will base their decision on the evidence they found and their evaluations during the assessments and interviews. You should receive a written disposition of the case.
The two types of dispositions are:
- Unfounded disposition – An unfounded disposition means the information the worker collected doesn’t support the allegations. You have a right to petition the Circuit Court for the case records if you believe someone made the report in bad faith or with malicious intent. You can also discover the identity of the person who reported the abuse or neglect.
- Founded disposition – A founded disposition means the evidence found during the investigation supports the report of abuse or neglect.
How to Appeal A CPS Disposition
You can file an appeal if you disagree with the CPS worker’s findings. There are three levels of appeals:
- Informal local conference – You have 30 days from receiving the CPS notice to submit a written request for an appeal. The director of the local social services agency will conduct the conference.
- Administrative or state-level hearing – You can request an administrative or state-level hearing if you’re unsatisfied with the result of the conference. You must submit your request within 30 days of receiving the notice of the result from the conference. The Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner will oversee the hearing. They will mail their decision after reviewing the evidence and testimony.
- Appeal to circuit court – You have 30 days from receiving the Commissioner’s written decision to file an appeal with the circuit court. The Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia will attend to represent CPS’s position. The circuit court will review the information from the hearing to determine how to rule.
Get Help from a Skilled Virginia Beach CPS Lawyer Now
Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can represent you whether you’re the target of a CPS investigation or pursuing action against a spouse, former spouse, or another family member. We will work to protect your rights and fight for your child’s safety and future.
Call us for a confidential consultation at (757) 962-5588 if you are involved in a CPS investigation.