I recently read an article entitled What You Should Know if CPS Targets You or Your Family. It was very eye opening. I think most people do not believe that CPS (Child Protective Services) is out to remove their children, but instead is there to help them. The truth, however, is sometimes hard to swallow. Case workers for CPS cannot be trusted and the lawyer who wrote this article makes that very clear.
The author points out ten actions to take should CPS show up on your doorstep demanding to take or even just talk to your children. Most of the points I have heard, but there were a few I had never considered before. This article was written in 2010, but I believe it is still applicable today. As a matter of fact, it is probably more important to know the information in this article than it was eight years ago!
The first point the author makes is to “take the accusation seriously.” It is important to understand that they are not joking even if what they are accusing you of is completely absurd. They believe that you are guilty of whatever they say you have done and they are there to prove it. They do not assume that you are innocent (this is also common for juries these days – long gone are the days of “innocent until proven guilty”).
Next she encourages parents to expect answers to the questions they have. The CPS worker does not want to let you know what you are accused of, but according to the author, “they are required by federal and state law to tell you the nature of the accusation at the first contact.” I had never heard this before. She also states that you need to ask what specifically they are accusing you of doing, not just broad categories. For example, “neglect” is the category, but how have you specifically neglected your children? Ask for specifics and expect an answer!
I have heard the next piece of advice time and time again. She says that you must not talk to them. They are not your best friend. They want you to keep talking to them because the more you talk, the more they have that they can use against you. Do not explain the situation around what you are accused of. They believe that you are guilty and their goal is to get you to confess that. She suggests that you only talk to your attorney. Of course you will want to explain to them what happened, but, as the author said, “CPS agents are not reasonable” so explaining like you would to a reasonable person is not going to help. It will actually harm you, so stay as quiet as possible.
Finding an attorney who is experienced is not as important as finding an attorney who knows how to fight CPS. She believes that this is very important as most attorneys believe you should follow whatever CPS tells you to do. That does not help you keep your children, as their goal is to get them away from you. I believe it would even be important to figure this out before you start having problems with CPS. Search for an attorney in your area who has fought CPS and won. Have their number ready in case you, a friend or family member needs it.
Her next advice is to be polite because if you act angry, it makes you look guilty. They can also use that against you in court by saying you have an “abusive personality.” I find that it might be difficult to react politely if someone is on your doorstep accusing you of something you did not do and threatening to take away your children. Your inner Michelle Duggar would definitely have to come out!
The next point I have heard before, but the quote that comes along with it sends chills up my spine. A warrant of court issued order is needed for any government official to enter your home. If you let them in without one, you can no longer claim your Fourth Amendment right. More than likely, the worker will tell you that a warrant is not necessary, but to enter your home, the worker must have one or you invite them in. If you allow them to enter, they are only looking for things to use against you. The author states that even if a police officer shows up with the agent, you are not required to open the door unless they have a warrant. Stand firm and politely tell them they may not enter. However, if an officer does force his way in, do not get physical but stand aside.
Listen to the words of an ex-CPS investigator:
“I wish I could shout from the highest mountain to parents to vigilantly learn their rights! If they knew what their legal rights were there would be significantly lower numbers of child removals. Social workers, unlike policemen making an arrest, are not required to inform the parents of their legal rights. All we had to do to remove a child was to show up at the home and tell the parents we came to remove the kids. Often times we would take a police officer with us (never telling the parents he was there for MY protection, not to enforce an order or warrant). 99% of the time we never had to get a warrant or court order to remove kids because the parents would be so intimidated by the officer that they would just hand their kids over and show up for court the next day. But if they had legally known their parental rights, they could simply have told me that I could not take the children unless I had a court order signed by the judge or had a warrant to remove the kids. … the majority of times parents were just intimidated and gave consent for the whole process to begin; completely unknowing of what rights they just waived.”
I had never considered the next advice she gives which is to tape any and all interrogations your child receives. I figure if they show up at your door, you might as well tape that as well! She says you have the right to bring your own recording device to each meeting and they are required by (Texas) law to record meetings with the child. It makes sense on their side, but having your own back up recording is a great idea.
Physical exams with your trusted doctor is the next step if they are accusing you of physical abuse. Do not go to a doctor they recommend. You need to make sure it is a doctor you trust and ask that he write a report stating there were no marks or health issues that would lead him to believe the child was being abused. Of course this is a smart thing to do, but in the heat of the accusation, I am not sure how many parents actually consider doing this.
The author suggests having ready a list of names of friends and family who can take care of the children if CPS takes them. I had heard this before, but I am not sure how likely they are to use your list or if their first inclination is to get them with a foster family immediately. I recently wrote an article about how the foster system needs an overhaul, so this is definitely not something you want for your child. If they leave your home, request they be sent to someone on your list.
Lastly, she says to never admit your guilt. CPS is not above lying to get you confess that you are guilty, so they may offer to return your children if you confess. This tactic will only get you time in jail while your children find homes elsewhere. Do not believe that they will return your children even if you just confess to part of what they say happened.
It is amazing to me how many of the suggested items could and should be done before CPS shows up at your door. Are we prepared for that though? No, definitely not. People believe that this is not really happening to “good” families. My friend shared this article on her Facebook and a friend of hers told her she had “nothing to worry about since you are such a good mom.”
Sadly, my homeschooling, homebirthing, non-vaccinating, crunchy, government questioning, religious friend is just the kind of person they often go after.
Be prepared and know that CPS is not on your side.
Please support @familyprotection and the work they are doing to bring light into the dark world of Child Protective Services. They want to see the truth exposed and justice brought to those who are destroying lives.