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You may be wondering who or what is CPS (child protective services), and how you should manage their presence in your family.
Let me start by saying that I completely understand how terrifying it can be to find out CPS has gotten involved in your family.
You may have heard stories of children in foster care being abused physically, sexually, mentally, or even worse, some have even been killed by their caregivers.
You may have heard stories of CPS manipulating families in order to take kids away, reportedly just for the purpose of receiving government money to have the kids in their care, using the foster system to provide children to families looking to adopt, even if they had been in a loving, caring family.
The unknowns of who they are and what they are legally able to do can cause so much uncertainty and fear in our lives.
Our Experience With CPS
Our experience with CPS was overall very professional. I believe the majority of people working in these positions are caring individuals with only the best in mind for the children they work with.
Unfortunately, our state has one of the highest numbers of children in foster care due to drug use. The workers quickly become overwhelmed, and the position turnover is extremely high. Throughout the process, we had a total of 3 workers.
Our workers were very kind and honestly went out of their way to make things as easy for us as possible. We didn’t have a monthly visit as was probably legally required, but we had cell phone numbers, office numbers, email, and were able to quickly reach the worker whenever needed and always received a quick response.
After 18 months in the custody of CPS, we were told that since the parents had made no attempt to get back on track the children would need to be adopted by us or go up for adoption through the state. This was the only issue that we had that was really upsetting to me as I hadn’t wanted to adopt my grandchildren. I was shocked that my daughter hadn’t even tried to get her children back, but I still believed that someday she would want them back and I wanted that for her.
We did end up adopting two of the children in August of 2019.
Throughout our years of involvement with families associated CPS, it has been our experience that everyone who has a child removed claims there wasn’t a reason for removal. This causes a lot of confusion for grandparents. Although I think it is possible for mistakes to have been made, CPS does do their due diligence to ensure that they are coving all bases with these children. If they have removed a child from your family, chances are there was an actual issue behind the removal.
What is Child Protective Services?
According to this Wikipedia page, CPS is a United States government agency created to assess, investigate, and intervene on reports of child abuse and neglect. The purpose of this organization is to protect children from caregivers who may be harming them or neglecting them.
This agency is also known around the United States by different names, including Department of Children and Families – DCF, Department of Children and Family Services – DCFS, Department of Social Services – DSS, Department of Human Services – DHS, Department of Child Safety – DCS, Department of Child Services – DCS, Department of Human Resources – DHR.
A quick Google search shows that there are similar government agencies around the world in countries like The Netherlands, England, Germany, Berlin, France.
This article will be focused on The United States Child Protective Services as this is the agency my experiences have been through. If you are from another country, please consider sharing information regarding your agencies below or sending it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share this information on my Facebook Page.
How Does CPS Get Involved in Families?
In order for CPS to initiate contact with your family, there first must have been a report of child abuse or neglect. This report can be called in by the police, a childcare worker, a teacher, counselor, doctor, or anyone whose job involves caretaking of children. These professionals are known as Mandatory Reporters, and they are legally obligated to report suspected child abuse or neglect in the United States.
A report can also be called in by a neighbor, friend, family member, and unfortunately, anyone who may have an issue with the parent can attempt to cause problems by submitting a false report. Although this does happen, it is a misdemeanor or felony in some states to create a false report, as well as not reporting if you are a required Mandatory Reporter.
What Happens When a Report is Created?
Once the initial report is filed, a CPS investigator will be in contact with your family member to begin the process.
The CPS interviewer will begin by speaking with the child if the child is old enough, as well as possibly physically examining the child looking for signs of abuse or neglect. This interview and exam can take place in the family home, childcare center, school, etc. The child will be asked specifics about the incident that was called in and the worker will determine if the home is a safe place for the child to remain, or if immediate removal must take place for the safety of the child.
What Happens if the Child is Removed?
If it is determined that there is an immediate safety issue for the child, the CPS worker is legally able to remove the child from the home at that time if the unsafe person will not or cannot leave. CPS will discuss the situation at length with the parents and ask for names of possible family members or trusted friends that could take the child. If no other family member is available, CPS can place the child into a foster home.
At the time of removal, the parents will be required to meet with the CPS worker to determine a course of action to ensure the children are reunited with their parents if possible. Parents will be required to meet with the worker to make a plan, which may include attending parenting classes, getting drug or alcohol treatment, finding proper housing. The reason for removal will need to be corrected prior to the child going home.
The goal of Child Protective Services is the reunification of the child with their parents. If that is not an option, the secondary plan would be permanency, whether with another family member or a foster family.
How To Contact CPS In Your Area
If you have witnessed child abuse or neglect and need to contact CPS investigation, please use this link to find contact information in your state. If you are located out of The United States, I would recommend searching the internet for child abuse advocates in your country to find the agency that handles these complaints in your area.
If you believe a child you are related to may become involved with Child Protective Services, you should call your local agency and ask to be entered on the Relative Registry. This may not be available in every state, but in the state we live in grandparents, aunts, and uncles, adult brothers and sisters, may be listed on the registry and would be immediately called in the event the child is taken into protective custody.
Everyone’s experience with CPS is different. My hope is that they will be respectful to you and your family’s situation and that you can understand their job requirements do sometimes require difficult decisions.