In Indiana, Child Protective Services is an agency whose goal is clearly outlined in its name. As a subdivision of the Department of Child Services, CPS helps advocate for vulnerable children. They accept reports of neglect and abuse and will investigate those reports.
When a CPS worker comes knocking at your front door or pulls your children out of class for an interview at school, your first instinct may be to panic. It is only natural to fear an investigation that could significantly alter your family circumstances.
When you understand the rules that apply to such investigations, you will be better able to advocate for yourself and your children.
Removal occurs when there are safety risks
The CPS worker who comes to your children’s school or to your house has to evaluate your family circumstances in the context of the allegations that they received. They can not summarily take your children on allegations alone.
Whether someone claims there is inappropriate physical discipline occurring or neglect leaving the children malnourished, a worker must try to determine whether the children are safe and the parents happen and are capable of meeting their needs. If the worker determines that the children are not safe, they may conduct an emergency removal, followed by court proceedings.
Even in cases where CPS substantiates allegations of abuse or neglect, they should still prioritize reunification between parent and child if possible. Typically, the parent may have to complete certain services, like parenting classes and therapy, to regain their parental rights. It may take months for such efforts to succeed, and parents must keep their focus on the big picture so that they don’t let the temporary emotions of a devastating situation affect the success of their reunification efforts.
Learning your rights beforehand could protect you
Individuals who fully understand their legal rights when CPS shows up at their homes may be less likely to make mistakes that could harm their custody rights. As soon as you learn that someone has made a report about you to CPS or that they have opened a case regarding your family, you may want to learn about your rights and how to protect your family from the trauma of a long-term separation.
Understanding the rules that govern CPS investigations will give your family the necessary tools to navigate this stressful process.