Under the Department of Family and Protective Services is the Child Protective Services unit. This unit handles allegations of child abuse and neglect. Typically, CPS begins being involved with a family when they are referred by others due to these allegations. A case can be referred by a school staff member, family, friends, neighbors, or anyone who sees the child abuse and finds it significant enough to make a report. It should also be noted that the person who makes the report will be protected from criminal and civil liability as long as they reported the incident without malintent. The ultimate goal of the unit is to keep families together and not have to separate children from their homes. However, if a case is serious enough this will happen. The main responsibilities of CPS include providing services to children and families within the home, getting children adopted, placing children in foster care, and helping youth who are in foster care by preparing them for adulthood.
For youth who are removed from their homes and no relative or close family friend are able to take them they are then placed in foster care. This is meant to be a temporary solution but can become permanent for many kids. When family members are able to take a child in though, this is known as kinship care. How does a family end up in this situation though? Well after a complaint is filed a case worker comes out and interviews several different people involved. From parents, the child that the suit was filed for, other siblings, family members, and even teachers or school staff. After conducting these interviews they will either conclude that the children are safe by ruling out the abuse or neglect claims. On the other hand, if they find that there is significant evidence they will conclude they are unsafe and a child possibly needs to be removed from the home. This is when either the kinship care or foster care process starts. Again, they do aim to keep families together however if the situation is dire they will air on the side of caution and remove the child or children from the home.
The investigation process usually happens within the first 30 days of a report. However, there are exceptions to this and it could go longer. This is to ensure that there is no evidence of abuse or neglect occurring. The definitions for both of these terms are fairly broad. Abuse though can be described as physical, sexual, and even emotional abuse. Whereas neglect can be physical, medical, abandonment, as well as putting a child at risk by the lack of proper care. Moreover, if the DFPS does find it fit to remove the child from the home there will be a hearing in which they have to explain why they believe that is the best decision and provide evidence for that reasoning.
How can a Divorce Lawyer help in this situation? While the situation is scary for you and your family and you may not know where to start the attorney can assist you on this journey. For one, they can help prepare you for interviews while also helping you understand what the investigation process looks like and what will come from it. The attorney can also make you aware of different programs and resources that CPS has available. They will do what they can to help you regain custody of your child during this time.
To learn more about child custody, you should contact Brandy Austin Law Firm.