Mental health disorder and use of substance are recognized as risk factors where children can either be neglected or get abused. Whenever a child treatment allegations are made, Child Protective Services (CPS) responds and take action against the parents or the guardian. To determine the safety of the child, a caseworker carries out an investigation which might include measuring the sources of income, substance abuse and mental health depending on the reports filed. The following information is important to guardians or parents who are dealing with child protective services for suspected neglect or child abuse:
1. The rights CPS have to interview the child
The case worker working for CPS has the right to conduct all the necessary investigations including interviewing the child without permission from the parent. The investigation process can be conducted from anywhere if at all it’s convenient and comfortable for the child. However, after interviewing the child, the caseworker should notify the parent or caregiver that he/she has interviewed the child about abuse or neglect.
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2. Police involvement
The allegations about child abuse or neglect may reach the police first who then inform the CPS about the case. Therefore, when the police are informed first, they can get involved by informing relevant authorities. However, if the police are concerned about the safety of the child or the caseworker during the investigation, they can intervene to take the child into a protective custody or provide security to the caseworker.
3. Protective custody
In case a child has been seriously neglected or harmed in any way, a police officer can take the child in a police custody for a period of 72 hours. This is done to ensure that the child is under care and protection at the time. Within the 72 hours, a court hearing is held and the custody is then transferred to CPS. CPS workers assess the situation and determine whether the child will be placed with a relative or to a licensed foster home.
4. Shelter care hearing
This type of hearing is held for the parents of the child suspected to be neglected or abused to explain to the court why their child should be allowed to continue living in their home. This is after allegations have been made that the child is facing abuse or neglect from the parents or third party. The parents may lose the custody of their child if they are not able to convince the court why they should keep their child.
5. Services available in CPS offers a range of services to both the parents and the community
Most of these services are free of charge while other services might be offered by CPS to the community where the family lives in. Here are some of the services offered by CPS:
- Mental and health services• Home support and childcare• Employment and transport• Legal services• Housing, clothing, food and limited financial support• Domestic violence programs• Alcohol abuse and drugs programs• Family planning and parenting• Family and marital counseling
Children may receive both in-home and out-of-home services depending on their circumstances and location. However, after the child has been placed in foster care, the court is supposed to hold a permanency hearing within a year to determine a permanent residence plan for the child.