Child Protective Services (CPS) is a government agency that exists to ensure that every child is living in an environment that is safe for their immediate and long-term physical, emotional, and mental health. If a report is made to CPS that indicates this is not the case, CPS will investigate the family in question. Should they assess the report to be valid or otherwise discern that a child’s safety is at risk, they have the legal authority to remove the child.
CPS does not actually require that anyone file a report in order to investigate. In fact, as long as they have a reasonable belief that abuse or negligence is present, they can initiate legal proceedings to temporarily take away your child. Courts take CPS cases very seriously and rightly place the child’s well-being as the highest priority.
However, it may be that CPS officers are missing examples that demonstrate your suitability as a parent or have been provided with a false narrative of your family’s circumstances. By hiring a CPS attorney, you will be able to rightly fight any charges made against you that call your parenting into question or threaten to remove your children from you. Your attorney can help you fight back against CPS claims and dependency cases.
What Are Dependency Cases?
A dependency case involves the process of legally challenging the rights of an individual to have or maintain guardianship over a child. Dependency cases typically involve allegations of neglect or abuse and lead to CPS removing the child for a short or long period of time.
Because custody of your child is directly at stake in a dependency case, it is vital that you partner with an experienced and highly skilled lawyer to represent you. Separation can have devastating consequences for both you and your children, no matter the length of time. Our lawyers can guide you through court hearings and prepare a defense that demonstrates the ways in which being home is not only safe but ideal for the child.
How Long Does CPS Have to Investigate a Case in California?
In California, CPS has 45 days to complete an investigation, though most will do so in less than 30 days, depending on the severity of the concern raised. During this time, CPS will observe the home environment, conduct interviews, and complete any other form of investigation they feel necessary to examine whether the home is a safe environment for the child. CPS will notify parents at the conclusion of the investigation of their decision in writing.
What Do CPS Officers Look for in Homes?
When completing their investigations, CPS officers will conduct interviews with all available members of the family and will make home visits looking for signs of any particular concerns. These concerns usually fall within the following common issues:
- General suitability of the home. It is important for CPS officers to observe that the home is a suitable environment for the child, free from dangers or hazards, clean, and possessing proper furnishings for the child.
- Well-being of the family. CPS officers will pay careful attention to both the physical and emotional well-being of each child and parent in the household. While not demonstrative in itself, signs of adverse physical or emotional health could be indicative of other issues.
- Adequate food, clothes, and hygienic items. Children should have access to enough healthy food, should have toothbrushes, soap, and other necessary hygienic items, and should maintain a reasonable amount of clean clothes available. It is a sign of neglect toward the child when a home lacks any of these items.
In addition to observing the general upkeep and provisions of the home, CPS officers will be intent on looking for signs of maltreatment or criminal violations, such as:
- Drugs or drug paraphernalia. The presence of illicit drugs or other controlled substances in the same living space as a child or within access for the child is of serious concern.
- Domestic violence. CPS officers will look for any indication of whether domestic violence is present in the home, even if it is not directed at a child.
- Signs of child abuse. Lastly, CPS officers are absolutely vigilant in looking for any signs of potential abuse toward a child, whether physical, mental, emotional, or sexual. The discovery of child abuse is a serious allegation that will involve strict court proceedings.
While CPS’s goal of ensuring all children are in safe and caring homes is commendable, the system itself is far from perfect. Unfortunately, this means that many homes are unfairly deemed unfit despite a parent’s efforts to provide. At times, what is misconstrued as neglect, such as lacking adequate food, is merely the result of lesser access and hard times for the family.
If you’ve been informed that your home is unfit or have had your child temporarily removed, you have options—your situation is not hopeless. Challenge the system and fight for your family by hiring a CPS attorney.
What Are My Rights Against CPS in California?
As a parent, you have a right to deny any claims or allegations made against you by CPS. Additionally, the fact that a case is made against you does not automatically take away any of your rights, especially not the right to fight back. If CPS files a case against you, you have the right to an attorney to represent you and fight your claim.
CPS does not operate with the legal freedom to deny you any constitutional rights, either. This means they cannot enter your home without a court order or a warrant unless you allow them. They also cannot force you to take a drug test without your consent.
What Type of Lawyer Do I Need to Sue CPS?
If you believe that CPS has in any way infringed on your rights or discriminated against you in wrongfully taking away your child, you can pursue a civil rights claim. You will, therefore, need a civil rights lawyer to sue CPS. Your claim would be reviewed in a federal court against the alleged agency or caseworker you believe deprived you of your civil rights.
Cases against the Department of Social Services (DSS), under which CPS falls, are complicated and generally difficult to win. However, an experienced and capable CPS attorney will understand how to build a proper case against the individual or agency that wronged you. You have a right to pursue legal action against any offense, such as entering your home without a proper warrant, wrongful manipulation, or presenting a false narrative of circumstances.
Moreno Valley Child Protective Services Attorney and Juvenile Dependency Representation
Maintaining your family unit and integrity can be legally challenging, involving several complex processes and case procedures. However, there is nothing in this world worth fighting for more than the well-being of your children. If you are facing allegations of inadequate care or other violations that have resulted in the removal of your children, you need to seek immediate legal help.
The team at My SoCal Lawyers is ready to fight diligently on your behalf to uphold your parental rights and seek the reconciliation of your custody. For a free consultation to discuss your case obligation-free, contact our office today.