Before CPS Comes (Or, If They Come Unannounced)
- Always be polite.
- Do not let them into your home without an appointment or a court order.
- If a CPS worker does show up at your home unannounced (perhaps to deliver paperwork about allegations against you), exit your home and speak with him or her outside, or in a doorway through which he or she cannot see behind you. Do not answer any questions; instead, in response, ask the worker to call you to make an appointment so you can be in front of your calendar. If the worker asks to see the child(ren), bring them to a window. After the worker leaves, be prepared to wait for at least 15 minutes, as he or she may return unexpectedly.
- Be as cooperative as possible while making the appointment. If you have a pediatrician appointment or other responsibility at the day or time suggested, say so and suggest a better day and time for your schedule.
- Before your appointment with CPS, gather information on your “collaterals,” meaning other people who have observed you caring for your child(ren). A good example of a “collateral” is your child(ren)’s pediatrician. The pediatrician can tell CPS that your child(ren) is/are in good health, that they have no concerns about your parenting, that you have attended all scheduled pediatric appointments, and that you have followed their advice and/or recommendations, etc. A parent who is a medical marijuana user should also have as a collateral any doctors who are treating them for conditions related to the medicinal cannabis use and who approve of or are tolerant/accepting of that use. If at all possible, speak to the pediatrician or other doctors and/or their office staff before to let them know CPS will be calling, and be prepared to offer their contact information to your CPS case worker and sign an authorization to release information from the doctor to CPS.
- Prepare your home for the CPS visit. Ensure that the house is clean and tidy, that there are no dishes in the sink, that there are adequate child-friendly foods in the kitchen, your cannabis locked away and inaccessible to children, and that any hazards are adequately child-proofed.
- Prepare yourself, your children, and anyone else in your home for the CPS visit by ensuring that everyone appears clean and well-dressed.
When CPS Comes to Investigate or Assess
- Be ready for your appointment at least 30 minutes before it is scheduled to start. CPS is likely to turn up around 15 minutes early.
- When you meet with CPS for your appointment, continue to be cooperative and polite.
- Be prepared to be questioned about topics that are totally irrelevant to the allegation(s) against you—such as your sexual history or your childhood. Use common sense when answering questions; do not lie, but do not volunteer any information that could give CPS any additional reason to substantiate the allegation of abuse or neglect. It is best to answer directly and say as little as possible.
- If you are uncomfortable answering an irrelevant question, politely say, “I’m sorry, I don’t see how that question is relevant and I don’t feel comfortable answering. Can we please move on to the next question?”
- Mention any support you have in taking care of the child(ren), like family members, and tell them about any other responsibilities you have (such as education or employment).
- Be prepared to take the case worker on a tour of your home.
- Have your children available to speak to the case worker. Allow CPS to interact with your child(ren) and/or check their bodies for physical abuse. The CPS worker may ask to check or speak to the child(ren) alone, without you present; you should not agree to this but instead politely insist that you always be in the room with them. (Please note: there are some states, but not many, where it is legal for CPS to interact with your children at their school or even moving them to another location without your consent. Check the law to find out if you’re in one of these states.)
- You do not have to submit to a drug test without a court order. Politely decline to take it; you do not need to offer a reason.
- Be prepared for the CPS worker to return unannounced 15-30 minutes after your appointment has concluded.
Last updated: March 23, 2014 at 21:41 pm