It is easier than you think to become the subject of a Child Protective Service (CPS) investigation. Almost anyone can call the local CPS agency and make an anonymous report. There are also instances where CPS must make an investigation.
If CPS starts an investigation, typically the first time you will learn of their investigation is when they come to your residence. CPS does not need to give you advance warning that they are coming. However, if you do receive advance warning of an investigation, here is what you should do:
Clean your residence: Even if you are the neatest person in the world, you should clean and organize your residence to the “nth” degree.
Throw out all alcohol: Even a single beer bottle should be thrown out. Also, make sure that there are no empty alcoholic bottles in the garbage or in your recyclables. Although it is not fair, at the sight of alcohol, CPS may come to the false conclusion that you drink alcohol.
Make sure all medicines and poisons are “out of reach”: Make sure all medicines and poisons are either securely locked up or out-of-reach of any young children. Also, make sure all medicines are current, and there are no expired medicines.
Answer questions very carefully or not at all: CPS is allowed to ask you questions, such as “how often do you drink alcohol?”, “do you smoke cigarettes?”, and “how long are your children left alone”. You are allowed to not answer any questions or to state that you want an attorney present.
Sometimes, instead of refusing to answer a question, it is better to be extremely vague An example of a vague answer: “I drink alcohol very infrequently.” If CPS asks you how often is “very infrequently”, you can answer: “Less than once a week.”
Do not let them talk to your children alone: CPS may ask to speak to your children alone. That is almost never a good idea. You can simply refuse their request. You can state to CPS, that you are their parent, and you do not feel comfortable allowing CPS to question your child without your presence.
Do not sign an HIPAA medical release. CPS may ask you to sign an HIPAA medical release. You are allowed to say no, and I highly recommend that you do not sign an HIPAA release.
Do not sign any forms, unless you absolutely know what you are signing. If CPS asks you to sign something, make sure you know what you are signing. If you have any questions or do not feel comfortable signing the form, you can tell CPS that you need to consult with your attorney.
After the CPS investigation is completed, CPS will issue a report which will indicate either “indicated” or “unfounded”. A finding of “indicated” means that CPS found some evidence to support a determination that a child was abused or maltreated. A finding of “unfounded”, means that CPS did not find any evidence to support a determination that a child was abused or maltreated.
It is important to note that a CPS investigations can also lead to criminal charges.
If you believe that the result of CPS investigation is incorrect, then you have the opportunity to request that the investigation be reevaluated. You also can request a “fair hearing,” which will be an opportunity to present evidence in front of an administrative hearing.
The CPS report may also request that you undergo certain rehabilitative actions, for example, attending an anger management class.
CPS investigations are extremely serious. If you live in Suffolk County or Nassau County and are the subject of a CPS investigation, you should contact an experienced attorney who specializes in Family Law and Matrimonial Law. If CPS finds that you are indicated, then you should have your attorney request that the investigation be reevaluated or that you are requesting an administrative hearing.
If you are the subject of a CPS investigation, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office. David Badanes, Esq. has represented numerous clients who received an incorrect CPS report. The Badanes Law Office can be reached at 631-239-1702, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Badanes Law Office has offices in Garden City and Northport.