Child Protective Services (CPS) is an organization that exists to advocate for those without the power to protect themselves. CPS can step in when a parent with abusive behavior or addiction issues endangers or harms children.
Sometimes, it will be the reports made by teachers or medical professionals that lead CPS to investigate families. Other times, it will be a parent’s or child’s interactions with law enforcement that initiate a CPS case.
How may criminal accusations against someone in your household lead to a CPS investigation for your family?
CPS can investigate any scenario that might endanger children
It may surprise you to learn that the state could potentially terminate your parental rights even if you have never caused harm to your children.
For example, if the police pull you over for an alleged impaired driving offense and you have your kids in the back seat of the vehicle, not only might you face enhanced penalties for the alleged drunk driving incident, but you could face the removal of the children from your custody because driving while impaired endangers the kids.
You don’t even have to be the person accused of a criminal offense for the states to take action against your parental rights and authority. They can act against you if you fail to protect your children. If you are the victim of domestic abuse and you do not take steps to leave the situation or protect your children from witnessing it, that can give the state grounds to terminate your parental rights as well.
What happens once CPS gets involved?
CPS showing up at your house doesn’t mean that your children won’t get to live with you anymore, but it does mean that there is a risk of that outcome. Many parents, desperate to protect their relationship with their children, will agree to extended interviews with CPS workers, not realizing that the very things they say to try to protect their relationship with the children might end up building a case against them.
If the state does remove your children, you will typically have to participate in a reunification plan that might require six to 12 months’ worth of effort on your part. Although many people do not realize it, you have the right to have a lawyer there assisting you during every interaction with CPS. Having legal representation could help you avoid implicating yourself during interviews or making other mistakes when dealing with CPS that might affect your parental rights and family.