Being investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS) for child abuse and neglect can be frightening and confusing. If you have been contacted by CPS, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the steps in a CPS investigation, the legal rights that CPS workers have under the law, and your own rights as a parent.
Your first encounter with CPS may be when an agent appears on your doorstep. The most important thing you need to know is that you should not talk to them until you have an attorney present. You are not required to talk with them without your attorney any more than you are required to talk to the police without one. Do not say anything until your attorney from Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. arrives.
What Happens During a CPS Investigation?
The role of CPS is to “identify, assess and provide services to children and families in an effort to protect children, preserve families, whenever possible, and prevent further maltreatment.” CPS receives and investigates reports of child abuse and neglect, offers services that are designed to improve child safety, and works to mitigate the risk of additional abuse.
Reports can be made anonymously, so they are sometimes made in error due to a misinterpretation. Still, CPS is required by law to respond if they receive a report of child endangerment. If someone reports you to CPS, here’s what you can expect social services to do:
- Talk with you, your child, and anyone who has been accused of abuse or neglect
- Assess the child’s safety
- Search for signs that abuse or neglect is occurring
- Evaluate the home environment where the misconduct allegedly occurred
- Review records for past allegations of abuse and neglect
- Interview people who are acquainted with the child, including teachers and extended family members
- Figure out what services are necessary to stop future abuse
According to Virginia Code Section 63.2-1518, CPS has the right to speak with the child and their siblings without asking permission and without parental supervision. If a CPS worker speaks with your child without your consent, they will notify you once the interview is complete. In most cases, these interviews must be recorded electronically.
CPS can also perform an examination of your child to search for signs of physical abuse or neglect. Per Virginia Code Section 63.2-1520, they can take photos and X-rays of the child without asking for parental permission. CPS also has the right to take photos of the child’s home environment, but they have to get parental consent first unless they are acting on orders from the local Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
CPS investigations must be completed within 45-60 days from the date the report was initially made, although the investigation can take up to 90 days if police are involved.
What Are My Rights During a CPS Investigation?
If you were investigated by CPS, you have certain legal rights that you should be aware of. These rights include:
- The right to be notified in writing if someone makes a report against you
- The right to a meeting with a CPS worker, in which you can speak about the report, ask questions, and receive feedback
- The right to record conversations you have with the CPS worker, as long as you make them aware that you are recording
- The right to accept or reject any services offered by CPS
- The right to appeal if you disagree with the results of the CPS worker’s investigation
If you’ve been contacted by CPS or are currently being investigated, you should contact a Virginia Beach CPS defense lawyer right away. A skilled attorney could protect your rights and offer you pertinent legal advice.
Contact a Virginia Beach CPS Defense Lawyer
If you were contacted by CPS, you should take the matter very seriously, even if you are certain that you have done nothing wrong. Contact the Virginia Beach CPS defense attorney of Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. at (757) 962-5588 right away for a confidential, no-risk consultation to discuss your legal options.