Young mother holds her head in her hand while holding her sleeping toddler daughter in her arm inside a car

This Is What CPS Can and Cannot Do

While it may seem like Child Protective Services (CPS) has total control over what happens to your family, it’s important to know which actions they can and cannot legally take. Here’s what you should know:

What CPS Can Legally Do

CPS has the right to do the following:

  • Investigate reports, even if they are false.
    • Mandated reporters must report any suspected child abuse. If they don’t, they can be held legally responsible for neglecting to share what they know. Mandated reporters include:
      • Doctors
      • Lawyers
      • Therapists
    • CPS must investigate every substantial report. However, not all reports are substantial or significant enough to warrant investigation.
  • Connect you with valuable resources.
    • The agency does a good job of connecting families with resources that can benefit them. In some instances, they may even have the ability to provide financial help.
  • Meet with your child without your permission.
    • This may be concerning, but it’s true. CPS workers are entitled to meet with your kids without receiving your permission and without you present. It’s common for CPS to speak with your child before speaking to you. This is done so that guilty parents don’t have the opportunity to coach or threaten their kids into providing certain answers.
  • Demand that you follow a plan.
    • CPS may demand that you follow a safety or service plan. These aren’t typically court-ordered, which means they cannot truly be enforced. But if you choose not to follow the plan, CPS can tell the court that you are uncooperative.
  • Anything you say can be used against you.
    • Be careful what you say to CPS because they can and will use any information you provide against you.
  • Remove your children from the home.
    • CPS has the right to legally remove your kids from your home under particular circumstances. They must have a court order or be able to prove that your child is in imminent danger in order to take your child from you. Imminent danger includes things like:
      • Physical harm
      • Sexual conduct
      • Neglect
      • Firearms left out in the open
  • Terminate your parental rights.
    • It is a lengthy and complex process, but it’s possible.

What CPS Cannot Legally Do

CPS does not have the right to do the following:

  • Force their way into your home.
    • To legally enter your home, CPS needs a court order or the belief that your child is in imminent danger.
  • Provide you with a drug test without your consent.
    • CPS must have a court order to force you into taking a drug test.

If you need effective juvenile dependency defense, contact our skilled attorneys at The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson by calling (925) 900-5330 or by filling out our online contact form.

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