Have you recently got a call from DFPS ( Department of Family and Protective Services)? If yes, it can be the most stressful period of your life. People who are going through this get several questions popped up in their heads. For instance, what is CPS exactly, or how long will it take to end? Or what process do they need to go through before it ends?
According to The Law Advisoryguide, when someone outside of the family files a formal complaint against the household that he/she might be abusing or neglecting a child, the Department of Family and Protective Service launches an in-depth probe into the allegations.
If needed, the case investigators will enroll the parents into a healthy parenting techniques program to make them learn how to discipline a child and take care of them without putting them at risk of neglect or abuse.
What happens when CPS investigates?
When a complaint is filed with CPS, the organization assigns an investigator for the case to probe the situation and find evidence for the allegations.
Following are the steps of CPS investigation that one might expect.
- The investigator will speak to the person who files the complaint.
- They will interview the child for alleged neglect or abuse
- They will interrogate the parents and other family members
- They will examine the home
- They will look for evidence to support or refute the accusation
- In some cases if necessary, they will involve medical or other professionals in the investigation.
If CPS finds supporting evidence, they will decide the appropriate action to conduct. However, if the child is exposed to immediate risk of harm, the organization may take the child in their custody.
Stages of CPS Investigation:
CPS process takes a month to complete (if not stretched). So if you feel yours taking too long, then relax because it’s the standard amount of time. Following are the stages of CPS investigation that anyone with the allegation must go through.
File a complaint with MDHHS:
To begin an investigation, a complaint must be filed with MDHHS, which then begins investigation through CPS. The plaintiff is not required to disclose their identity or provide any personal information unless the court judge asks them to.
Once the complaint has been made, the process begins within 24 hours so that the child can be saved as soon as possible without any physical or mental harm.
If the investigators fail to get any supporting evidence for the alleged crime, the plaintiff will be prosecuted for providing false information.
Interviews and house examination:
After the complaint has been filed, within 24 hours, a team from CPS will visit the child’s home to investigate, which will involve face-to-face interviews of the caregivers and family members along with a full house examination. If there is more than one child in the home, CPS will interview them as well to check if they were part of the alleged abuse or negligence.
Moreover, the CPS can legally conduct an interview with the child in the guardian’s absence. So don’t get surprised if you find that your child has already been interviewed at his/her school.
After probing, CPS will categorize the case out of 5 different categories based on their collected information. The last and second-last categories are considered the most serious ones. The person engaged in abuse that comes under any of those categories, he/she will be added to the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.
- Category V: A case will be categorized into this category if no evidence of child abuse is found and neither the family.
- Category IV: This category involves cases in which child neglect or abuse is not found.
- Category III: This category involves cases in which the evidence is there; however, it poses a low risk to the child.
- Category II: A case can be listed in this category if there is abundant evidence of abuse and neglect and a high risk of harm to the child.
- Category I: This category involves cases in which there is overwhelming evidence of child abuse and neglect and a court’s order needed to protect the child’s well-being.
4) Court Proceedings:
If the investigation leads to any criminal charges, the family needs to hire an experienced attorney to represent their case in court. However, the court can issue an order to get the child removed from the house to mitigate any risk of harm.
Things can get dirty during child protective services investigations. If you are going through one, you need to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side who can counsel you on legal matters. Moreover, if you are being wrongfully accused, your attorney will help you get the case dismissed.
The law Advisory provides free consultation on every legal matter. If you are facing any complications, head to them. You will surely get the best possible solutions to your legal problems.