Almost nothing is more frightening to a parent than being involved in a Child Protective Services Investigation. While CPS’s purpose is to protect the health and safety of children in vulnerable or abusive situations, parents under investigation may feel threatened, anxious, and confused. Many parents ask, “Will CPS take away my children?” “What happens next during an investigation?” The one question you should ask is, “What are my legal rights?”
At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., we want you to know that you have legal rights as a parent. Although a CPS inquiry may be intimidating and overwhelming, you have more power to get through the situation smoothly when you know your rights.
What Triggers a Virginia CPS Investigation?
Numerous circumstances can potentially trigger a Child Protective Service investigation. CPS aims to identify and address situations where children may be unsafe, abused, or neglected. The organization evaluates child safety, supports families, and offers services to help families safeguard their children and prevent further abuse or neglect.
Although anyone can report suspected cases of abuse or mistreatment, individuals working in specific professions must report potential abuse to CPS. These individuals are called mandatory reporters. Teachers, medical professionals, probation officers, mental health professionals, and family services specialists are mandatory reporters under Virginia law.
Reports to CPS that may trigger an investigation can include:
- Questionable injuries on a child
- Young children left alone without supervision
- Children diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases
- Children exhibiting signs of sexual abuse
- Children with untreated healthcare problems or medical needs
- Children appearing malnourished
When a credible complaint comes to CPS, the agency may conduct an investigation to address the child’s immediate needs and safety concerns.
What Are Your Rights During a CPS Investigation?
As a parent or caregiver under a CPS investigation, you may be too stressed or anxious to think clearly. However, you have legal rights you can exercise throughout the process. Understanding your rights gives you more power to protect yourself and your children.
First, you have the right to be notified in writing that a CPS report has been made against you. You are also entitled to a meeting with a CPS worker where you can discuss the report, ask questions, and receive feedback about the situation. Additionally, you can make recordings of your conversations and interactions with CPS workers, as long as you make the worker aware you are recording the conversation.
Parents also have the right to refuse a CPS worker entry into their home. However, refusing to allow a CPS worker into your home does not stop their investigation. You have the right to refuse to cooperate, but by law, the worker must proceed with the investigation. If there is evidence or credible cause to believe a child may be in danger, CPS can receive help from local law enforcement or petition the court for your cooperation. You also have the right to accept or decline services offered by CPS workers.
Finally, you have the right to appeal the finding of an investigation if you are named as the individual engaging in the abuse or neglect of a child.
Contact a Virginia Beach CPS Defense Lawyer Now
If a CPS complaint has been made against you, do not wait to seek legal assistance, potentially allowing CPS the time to build a case against you. Take steps now to protect yourself and your family. Contact the seasoned Virginia Beach CPS defense attorney of Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. Our sensitive legal team can evaluate your situation and outline your legal options. We want to help you find the best path forward. Call us at (757) 962-5588 to arrange a confidential consultation today.