What Should You Do if You’re Contacted by Child Protective Services (Cps) in Florida?

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team

 

 

 

 

Child Protective Services (CPS) is a governmental agency tasked with investigating reports of child abuse or neglect. If you find yourself in a situation where CPS has reached out to you, it indicates that someone has filed a report concerning your child or family. While this can be a stressful situation, there are specific steps you can take to safeguard both your rights and your child’s well-being.

Step 1: Remain Calm and Cooperate

Upon receiving contact from CPS, your initial response should be to stay calm and cooperate with the investigation. CPS workers are focused on ensuring the safety and welfare of your child. It’s crucial to remember that while they are not adversaries, they possess the authority to remove your child if they uncover evidence of abuse or neglect.

Maintain a polite and respectful demeanor with the CPS worker, answering questions within your comfort level. If needed, consult with a lawyer at any point, as they can provide guidance on your rights and advise on handling the investigation. Honesty is key; concealing information may be detrimental to your case. If you’ve made mistakes or face parenting challenges, admitting them and expressing a willingness to seek help and improve can positively impact the situation.

Step 2: Understand the Investigation’s Reason and Scope

Exercise your right to know the reasons behind CPS’s investigation and the specific allegations against you. Request an explanation of the evidence they possess and inquire about potential investigation outcomes and its estimated duration.

The investigation’s scope may vary based on the reported issues. CPS might conduct interviews with you, your child, and individuals acquainted with your family, such as relatives, neighbors, teachers, and doctors. Home visits to assess living conditions, the child’s room, food provisions, and other aspects may also occur. While cooperation is essential, you can choose not to consent to every request from CPS. It’s within your rights to refuse entry to your home, a drug test, or signing documents without legal advice. However, be aware that refusal to cooperate may prolong and complicate the investigation.

Step 3: Safeguard Your Child’s Rights and Interests

Your primary focus when contacted by CPS should be to protect your child’s rights and interests. Ensure your child’s safety, health, and happiness, addressing their physical, emotional, and educational needs.

Advocate for fair and respectful treatment of your child during interactions with CPS. You have the right to be present in interviews or meetings involving your child unless a court order dictates otherwise. Stay informed about who is communicating with your child, the nature of the discussions, and any inappropriate or harmful queries. Offer support to your child, reassuring them of your love and explaining the situation in an age-appropriate manner. Encourage honesty and cooperation, but emphasize that they shouldn’t say anything untrue or uncomfortable.

Step 4: Seek Legal Assistance and Additional Support

Upon receiving contact from CPS, promptly seek legal assistance to navigate the legal system, protecting both your and your child’s rights. A lawyer can aid in challenging unfounded allegations, presenting evidence, negotiating with CPS, and representing you in court if necessary.

Additionally, seek support from friends, family, community, or professionals to help cope with the stress of the investigation. Consider counseling, therapy, medical care, financial aid, or other services to address parenting or well-being concerns. Gather support from individuals who can vouch for your character and parenting abilities, providing positive references or testimonials.

Conclusion

Facing CPS involvement may be daunting, but it doesn’t automatically imply inadequate parenting or loss of custody. By following these steps, you enhance the likelihood of a positive and timely resolution, preserving the safety and unity of your family. Remember, support and resources are available to help you through this challenging time. You’re not alone, and your rights are valuable assets in navigating the situation.

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