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Understanding a Child’s Role in a CPS Investigation

As a parent or legal guardian, few things are more distressing than having Child Protective Services (CPS) representatives appear at your door. Someone has made allegations against you, either out of genuine concern or calculated malice, and now you’re the subject of a CPS investigation.

Being investigated for alleged child neglect or abuse can turn your world upside down, but understanding what to expect will help you prepare accordingly and, ideally, result in a positive outcome. In this blog, we explain the role your child will play in the investigation and how a CPS defense lawyer can protect your family’s rights during such a challenging time.

CPS Will Interview Your Child

As long as your child is not too young or incapable of expressing himself or herself, CPS will interview them. Depending on the circumstances, the interview may take place at your home, your child’s daycare or school, or a CPS office. The questions, which should be age-appropriate, are focused on learning the following:

  • What actually happened during the alleged incident or incidents

  • Whether the child feels safe at home

  • Whether they believe future neglect or abuse will occur

  • Whether any neglect or abuse occurred in the first place

Your child will be interviewed by the CPS investigator in a private location where he or she feels comfortable talking to them. You may or may not be permitted to listen to the interview. Usually a parent who is accused of abuse or neglect will not be permitted to listen.

Others May Be Interviewed

With some investigations, CPS may interview your other children as well as other adults who have access to your child, such as teachers, babysitters, sports coaches, and neighbors. The goal is to determine whether they have noticed any signs that the child is not being cared for as he or she should.

Investigators May Look at Your Home

When you know what CPS investigators look for when evaluating a home, you can protect yourself and reduce the likelihood of the agency removing your child. These things include:

  • The presence of healthy food in the house

  • The children’s sleeping arrangements: do opposite-sex children over five sleep in separate rooms?

  • Is the home adequately clean?

  • Whether any safety hazards exist, such as weapons or drugs left in the open

There May Be a Medical Examination

When an investigator believes that it is necessary, CPS can conduct a medical, physical, or sexual abuse examination.

In most cases, a physical examination will involve a visual review of your child’s body, with the goal of detecting cuts, bruises, diaper rash, signs of malnutrition, and other evidence of neglect or abuse. However, if there are allegations of sexual abuse, a doctor or nurse will perform the examination.

Concerned About a CPS Visit? Call a Washington CPS Defense Lawyer

When a child abuse or neglect investigation is underway, parents are entitled to consult with an attorney at any time, although it is strongly recommended that you do so as soon as CPS workers approach you. An experienced attorney can advocate for your family at all hearings, obtain witness statements in your favor, help you comply with CPS requirements, and work with you to obtain custody of the children if the children have been removed from the home by CPS.

At View Ridge Family Law & Estate Planning, we are dedicated to helping parents navigate through the difficult CPS system. Our goal is to convince CPS or the court that leaving or returning the children to their parents' home is in their best interests. To learn more or schedule a consultation, call 206-336-9195.

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