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CPS/CWS Investigation

A Child Welfare Services (CWS) or Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation is an incredibly traumatic experience for most parents. CPS is the agency in charge of protecting the welfare of children. When parents are accused of abuse – physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect – the allegations are serious and have tremendous consequences. Not all CPS referrals lead to an investigation; CPS has discretion to investigate claims of abuse. If an investigation is conducted, the result may lead to criminal charges being filed by the district attorney, depending on the facts and circumstances of the alleged abuse.

Drug possession or sales in the home, HS 11377(a), HS 11350, HS 11351, HS 11378, HS 11379.6; allegations of domestic violence, PC 243(e)(1) or PC 273.5; and/or firearm possession, PC 29800, PC 25850, may lead to a CPS referral.

Over the years, I have represented many parents wrongfully accused and investigated for abuse by CPS.  Parents will often feel stigmatized when CPS conducts an investigation, even though the allegations are not true, because no one wants to be accused of abusing their children. A CPS investigation will tear at the fabric of the family and have lasting consequences.

Mandatory reporters – teachers, nurses, doctors, law enforcement, etc. – are typically how a CPS investigation begins. An allegation(s) of abuse is suspected and CPS is contacted. CPS will then open an investigation. CPS will interview the child suspected of being abused. CPS will often show up at the child’s school, without the parent’s knowledge, to interview the child. The child must be asked by the CPS worker if they would feel more comfortable with someone else in the room during the interview. After the CPS worker has spoken with the child and anyone else who can corroborate the allegations, the parent(s) will be interviewed. CPS may show up at the parents’ home unannounced to conduct an interview.  

It is important to remember that parents have rights. Parents investigated by CPS are not obligated to speak with them. Oftentimes, it will be in the parents’ best interest to not make any statements or to have an attorney present when the interview is conducted. CPS investigations may lead to criminal charges, and parents need to protect their rights, including their 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Once the interview is concluded, CPS may attempt to get the parent to agree to a “safety plan.” This plan will implement rules restricting the parents’ rights while the case is being investigated. Once the investigation is complete – usually within 30 days – the CPS social worker will determine if the allegations are substantiated, inconclusive, or unfounded.

 If you or someone you know is being investigated by CPS, contact my office today. We provide a free, confidential consultation.