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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Child Protective Services Cases

Q: What are the Child Protective Service Agency (CPS) and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and what do they do?
CPS and ACS are agencies who are responsible for protecting children from being abused or neglected.

Q: Who can report me to CPS and/or ACS?
Virtually anyone can make a phone call and report anyone else to CPS and ACS. It can be done because a child is being abused or neglected. It could also be done by malicious individuals to cause you aggravation and psychological pain. There are also mandatory reporters. These are individuals who are legally obligated to report any potential instance of child abuse or child neglect. Some of the mandatory reporters are school teachers, social service workers, psychologists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, day care providers, police officers, department of corrections employees, coroners, and school psychologists.

Q: What can be considered child abuse or child neglect?
Child abuse may involve a physical injury to a child that is not an accident. It can also involve inappropriate activities that can injure or harm a child. Emotional abuse can involve making a child feel neglected or unloved. Incidents involving domestic violence by a child’s parents can also be considered a type of child abuse. Failure to maintain a safe home can be considered child neglect. Failure to properly supervise a child can involve neglect. Sexual abuse can involve any inappropriate acts of a sexual nature involving the child. It could also involve situations involving child pornography and inappropriate touching of a child.

Q: Does CPS or ACS have an absolute right to interrogate my child?
CPS and ACS workers, by statute, are entitled to interview your child. If you refuse to give them an interview at your home, they may go to the child’s school and interview him or her there. You are supposed to be notified if your child has been interviewed by CPS or ACS. CPS and ACS workers also have the right to photograph bruises on a child to document physical abuse of the child.

Q: When and how are police involved with allegations of child abuse or child neglect?
If an individual feels children are being abused they can either report the incident to the police or to CPS or ACS. This is also true with regard to reports made by mandatory reporters. In addition, if the police are investigating allegations of child abuse they are required to notify CPS or ACS and provide the agency with reports made to them concerning these allegations. Police usually get involved in cases where children need to be placed in protective custody or where an actual crime involving the child is involved. The police and CPS sometimes work together, but in all situations, they write their own separate reports. This means you can be investigated by both the police and CPS separately.

Q: What determinations are made by CPS and ACS?
Investigators charged with looking for situations involving child abuse and child neglect. They are therefore looking to find the allegations made are true. Should they find these allegations are true, they will issue a report saying the allegations are “founded.” If their investigation does not show the allegations of child abuse and child neglect are true and correct they will issue a report saying it is “unfounded.”

Q: If the allegations of child abuse or child neglect are deemed “founded” what can I do about this?
If you receive a report from CPS or ACS stating allegations of child abuse have been “founded” against you, you have 90 days to file an appeal and demand a hearing to set aside the determination. If you do not take this action within the 90 days, it becomes a permanent record maintained in Albany until the youngest child named in the report becomes 28 years of age.

Q: What rights, if any, do children removed from a parents home have?
They have the right to be protected, free from harm, danger, child abuse and child neglect. They have a right to have appropriate health care and have emotional and psychological problems dealt with. They are also entitled to shelter, food, and have their basic needs met.

Q: Under what circumstances can a court terminate parental rights?
The termination of parental rights is an extreme remedy resulting in the parent of the child losing all rights and responsibilities and relationship to the child. That parent no longer has any legal rights whatsoever regarding custody, visitation, and/or communication. Parental rights can be terminated by court orders after a hearing in New York State approximately 18 months after a child is removed from the parent’s home. A parent can also execute a voluntary agreement relinquishing parental rights.