Many people that I have spoken to as an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, have asked me how exactly their child may be removed from their home as a result of a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation. The first thing that I will typically tell that person is that it is possible that CPS will not remove their child. It is not a rule that CPS has to remove every child an investigation concerns. Some options involve taking steps to fix any problems in the home or removing unsafe persons that can allow for your child to reside with you throughout an investigation.
For those cases that necessitate the removal of your child, it is best to always think a few steps ahead before doing or saying anything to CPS. Understandably, you will not be happy that your child is being removed from your home. However, this does not give you the right to act with violence towards either CPS or any law enforcement officer assisting CPS in doing their job. Remember that you will have to account for your actions- both about your child and the removal of your child- in courtroom appearances. Your situation is serious enough without adding to it the need to defend your actions relating to the removal of your child.
Keep in mind that CPS will not be acting forcefully or with aggression towards you or your child when and if it comes time to remove your child from your home. HOWEVER, as I touched on a moment ago, law enforcement may be called to back up the CPS employee during the removal. Suppose you act with aggression towards CPS or law enforcement. In that case, there is no guarantee that the aggression will not be reciprocated by law enforcement to protect the CPS employee, the law enforcement officer, and most importantly, your child.
This was a worst-case scenario when you refused to release your child to CPS physically, and law enforcement needs to pry the child out of your arms and into the possession of CPS. I have not encountered this situation on behalf of a client but have heard of it occurring for other folks in CPS court. Use your best judgment. Allowing CPS to do its job and the investigation to run its natural course does not mean that you are giving up on your child. Instead, it means that you understand that you will need to prepare yourself for court and get your child back the legal way.
It is best to prepare your child for removal if given the opportunity.
It is a complicated set of circumstances for having your child removed from your home. It goes without saying that what may work best for your family may not work well for your neighbor’s, for instance. However, I can say that from my experience, if CPS gives you even half a day’s warning that your child is going to be removed from your home, it is best to prepare your child as much as possible.
If your child is of an age where she understands what this will mean for her, speak to her honestly about what will happen and how hard you will work to get her back into your home. Answer questions as straightforward as possible but not to the extent that you frighten or intimidate your child. Remember that she will be more nervous and on edge than you will, believe it or not. Children cannot understand every issue you do, so keep that in mind when speaking to your child.
Packing their clothes, favorite games, toys, and any keepsake that you think will help her get through this period can be very helpful. My advice would be to couch the conversation to reassure your child that she did nothing wrong and that you will use the time spent apart to make sure that her house is the happiest and safest place it can be.
What should you pack up for your child before she leaves home?
If you know that removal of your child is going to occur, it is worth packing up warm clothes like a jacket and long pants. Even in the summertime, it can be cool inside buildings that pump A/C constantly. If nothing else, your child will have an extra few sets of clothes if they get dirty during the day if it is too warm to use the cold weather clothes. The necessities like toothpaste, toothbrush, and small toys can go a long way towards reassuring your child that everything will be ok.
It does not always happen that CPS will give you a warning of the removal of your child and instead will surprise you by either coming to your home unannounced or by calling you after the removal altogether. In situations like this where you have not been allowed to pack up your child’s belongings, CPS should provide all the necessities that you would have otherwise taken care of.
Where will your child be taken once removed from your home?
The options are pretty comprehensive where CPS will take your child once removed from your home. The biggest thing for the CPS worker to have in mind is that your child needs to be safe and in a place where you cannot swoop in and remove your child from their new, temporary home.
It’s even possible that when your child is removed from your home, CPS may not even know then where your child is going to remain. A foster home, a group foster home, a temporary shelter, or the home of a relative of yours or your spouses are all possible places where your child could take up temporary residence during the CPS investigation.
If you have multiple children that have been removed, CPS will do its best to make sure that all of the children are kept together. Space ends up being a big issue in CPS situations where group homes and foster families are sometimes packed to capacity. In those situations, your children may need to be divided up between multiple homes, but the children will be allowed to see each other as often as possible.
Provide the contact information for family members to CPS when you are asked
CPS will ask you for contact information for your family members who may be willing to house your child during the investigation. This will be the ideal scenario once it is determined that your child cannot remain in your home. The caseworker from CPS will contact the persons you listed on your paperwork and determine if the person is willing to house your child and whether or not the safety of your child would be maintained by housing them with that particular relative.
A judge will make the ultimate determination as to where your child will be living during the investigation. CPS may determine that you have no appropriate relatives with which your child can stay, but you may disagree. If you feel strongly about this, make sure to speak to your attorney so that she may make an argument to the judge as to why a particular relative is an appropriate caregiver despite the reservations held by CPS.
Questions on foster care? Come back tomorrow to read more on this subject
We frequently hear “foster care” and “foster homes,” but these things are not always well known. Tomorrow’s blog post will discuss foster care, foster homes, and their potential impact on your CPS case.
If you have any questions about the subject matter that we covered today, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to answer your questions regarding this and any other subject in the field of family law. Consultations are free of charge and can go a long way towards answering questions you and your family may have.