This is a great article written by Christian blogger Becky Hastings. It applies to Americans who find themselves crossing paths with the Child Protective Services. Seriously, what would you do if they knock on your door?
Since more parents are experiencing a visit from CPS than ever before, and since sometimes those visits have resulted in the quick removal of children – despite no grounds to allegations of harm or abuse – it is critically important for every parent to have a good idea of how to respond to a CPS visit. Don’t think ‘it can’t happen to me.’ Take any visit by CPS seriously.
The most significant mistakes made by parents are usually in the very first encounter. If you can understand how to handle the very first encounter with CPS, you can increase your chances of maintaining your family’s rights and freedom. CPS will often seek to take a family by surprise. Be prepared.
1. THE KEY: Be polite & SAY AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. You might be terrified inside. You might be absolutely angry if you feel there is injustice going on, but the number one thing you can do is stay calm and be polite. Anything you say can be twisted. Do NOT DEFEND YOURSELF. Do NOT volunteer information.
2. Do NOT let them in your house. Be nice but STAY FIRM. Have one statement ready and repeat it over and over “I know you are just doing your job, but my main obligation is to my children and to help them avoid unnecessary trauma.” If they do not have a warrant and there is no obvious emergency, they are not allowed access to your home. If a police officer is with them, they all know it is illegal to enter a home unless you CONSENT, or unless they have a warrant, or can hear an emergency situation going on. DO NOT CONSENT.
3. Ask permission to ask THEM questions. “I realize you are just doing your job. Would it be ok if I asked you a couple of questions?” Then, ask if you can record the conversation. If you need to get your cell phone, close the door and say, “I need to get something.” These are the questions to ask them:
- “Firstly, do you have some identification? After you get their ID, write down their name, then ask, “Can you give me the name and phone number of your supervisor?” Write it all down. Take your time.
- Next “What are the exact allegations that have been made against me? Federal law requires that I should be informed of any allegations against me.”
- Ask them if they have a warrant. Be direct. “Do you have a warrant to search my home or speak to my children?” If they produce a warrant make sure it is signed by a judge and dated.
Without a warrant they must gain your consent to enter your home or speak to your children. They are doing their job. Their supervisor has instructed them to make this visit and they will use whatever tactic they feel will be effective to GET MORE INFORMATION AGAINST YOU. They may alternate between: trying to be nice, being firm, threatening or trying to bargain with you. Stay immune to every tactic. Be Nice, but know your rights. Do not get caught up in their games. Don’t engage them in any discussion, except on the questions above.
4. Tell them you are going to contact your attorney and when you get them on the phone, you will allow them to speak to your attorney. Close the door. Phone your attorney so the attorney can speak to the CPS case worker and help them to leave. Your attorney will know the law and remind the case worker of your rights. It is always a good idea to have an advocate on your side.
What do I do if I don’t have an attorney?
If you are a Christian and Homeschooling, you might like to consider joining Heritage Defense. If you are homeschooling you might like to join Home School Legal Defense Association who will defend you against allegations by social services as they pertain to homeschooling. Both organizations require a monthly or yearly fee but are available for telephone help immediately in any emergency situation you might face.
I pray you will never need to use this information. Unfortunately, in the present time of extensive government involvement in the lives of parents, many parents have found themselves in complex situations with CPS. It is better to be forewarned and forearmed. Your number one desire is to protect your children from harm. Too often CPS has brought more harm than help.