Dealing with Child Protective Services – Part I

Most parents spend their lifetime supporting their children, protecting their children from harm and helping their children become successful, productive human beings. When a parent is accused by Child Protective Services (hereinafter referred to as “CPS”) of abuse or neglect it could create a conundrum for the parents. CPS’ job is to investigate allegations made anonymously concerning issues involving child neglect and child abuse. When a parent hears from CPS, the normal reaction for the parent being investigated is to be upset, angry and scared.

Child Protective Services’ Investigations

When a Child Protective Services worker comes to your home, he or she is looking for signs of child abuse or child neglect. They are interested in finding out whether a child or children have been either physically or emotionally abused. Their job is to find evidence of abuse or neglect. Their job is not to seek out information to clear you with regard to the allegations that have been made against you. When a Child Protective Services worker comes to your home, if he or she finds that your home is unsafe or inappropriate for raising children, the worker can go to court and obtain a court order to remove your children to a safe foster care family. The worker may also make recommendations to you with regard to steps to be taken to make your home safer and more appropriate for raising children.

Should You Cooperate With Child Protective Services’ Investigators?

When the CPS investigator comes to your house, the first thing you should do is get his or her name, their phone number, email address, and the name and address of the agency they are working from. The question then becomes should you allow them into your home? Should you allow them to speak to your children privately? The answer to these questions depends on the circumstances and allegations made against you. In addition, it depends on what the Child Protective Services worker will find in your home. It is strongly suggested, when allegations of child abuse or neglect are made against you, that you consult with an attorney and discuss whether you should give admittance to your home to the Child Protective Services worker and/or allow them to talk to your children.

Be Polite

Under all circumstances, it is important that you act polite and appropriate and not hostile when dealing with the Child Protective Services worker. Should you decide not to let them meet with your children or speak with them, politely tell them that you will be happy to talk with them in the future after you have consulted with an attorney.father's rights advocate on long island

ACS Unable to Prove Educational Neglect by Mother

father's rights advocatesJudge Steven Mostofsky sitting in a Family Court Part in Kings County had an action brought before him by the Administration of Children’s Services (hereinafter referred to as “ACS”). The petition by ACS stated that the mother, Malikah, had committed educational neglect with regard to her 16 year old daughter, Betthi. Betthi had been in foster care since June 2011. She was placed in foster care because Malikah was in jail at the time.

ACS’ petition had more than one allegation against Malikah. In addition, they alleged Malikah failed to maintain the mental health of her daughter Betthi.

Judge Mostofsky found ACS did not prove Malikah’s behavior was abnormal or psychotic. He also didn’t find her behavior had placed her daughter’s mental health at risk. Judge Mostofsky found ACS had not obtained information with regard to Betthi’s schooling or her test scores while she was attending school in South Carolina between 2005 and 2010. They also didn’t obtain financial educational information while she was in foster care in North Carolina. Judge Mostofsky held a hearing. Testimony was taken and evidence was submitted. At the end of the hearing, he ruled ACS had failed to establish a case of either educational neglect or mental health neglect against the mother.

In his decision, the judge pointed out Betthi graduated high school. Since she had graduated high school, the claims her mother had impaired her ability or had a negative impact on her future could not be proven. The judge therefore dismissed the petition of ACS.

What Troubles the Author

In this case, ACS had removed a child from her mother’s care for years. Years later the mother finally gets a trial after not having custody of her daughter for a considerable period of time, and the courts finds the initial allegations made by ACS years earlier were invalid! The problem in this case, from the author’s point of view, is the hearing should have taken place years earlier. Making a decision years after a child is removed from her mother’s care, based on faulty allegations, does not do justice for the mother. This reaffirms my concerns that the legal system regarding ACS cases doesn’t work properly!legal assistance when dealing with CPS or ACS

Child Abuse and Child Protection Agencies – Part II

father's rights lawyerScreening by Child Protection Agencies in New York

Although child protection agencies in New York do conduct screenings, they have a tendency to send social workers and investigators out in almost every potential situation. Parents do not understand once the system starts an investigation against them, the agency will either come up with a report that child abuse or child neglect is “indicated” or child abuse or child neglect “is not indicated”. In the event a report is “indicated”, the agency can bring a child abuse or child neglect proceeding in the Family Court. In addition, the agency will file the report in Albany and a permanent record will be made.

Appealing Child Abuse or Neglect Findings

Parents have 60 days to file an appeal challenging the decision that they have been “indicated” for child abuse or child neglect. Sometimes parents do not understand the long term impact of being in a child abuse registry in Albany. These reports can impact on the types of jobs the parents can obtain in the future. It can cause them under certain circumstances to lose their jobs. It also creates a problem in the event there is a second or later report filed against them. This could cause the removal of their children from their home.

Dealing With Findings of Child Abuse or Child Neglect

In all situations where a parent has a report filed in Albany against them and they feel the information is untrue, incorrect or unfair, they should immediately retain an attorney experienced in handling child abuse allegations to protect their rights and have the report changed from indicated to not indicated.

Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse

There are various categories of individuals that have a legal obligation to report child abuse or child neglect in all situations where they feel it may exist. This group of individuals includes teachers, school personnel, all healthcare workers, doctors and nurses, child care providers and members of all types of law enforcement agencies. When allegations of child abuse are made by mandatory reporters, the reports are taken more seriously than those made by anonymous phone callers.

advocating the best interests of the childElliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney with more than 35 years of experience protecting father’s rights regarding claims of child abuse and child neglect.

Child Abuse and Child Protection Services Agencies – Part I

Most child abuse allegations coming into the Child Protection Services (CPS) on Long Island and Association for Child Services (ACS) in the City of New York come in by anonymous phone calls on child abuse hotlines. On a national basis, about 3.5 million reports of child abuse are made each and every year. Child protection agencies are supposed to sort out which of the claims being made are credible and which are phony or trivial. The large majority of states have a screening process to determine which claims of child abuse should be followed up and which should be ignored.

Child protection agencies have the job of seeing to it children are protected. However, what child protection agencies shouldn’t do is intervene in the private lives of families where there is actually no child abuse. Unfortunately, in the State of New York, child abuse investigative agencies err on the side of caution in almost all cases. Part of the reason for the overly aggressive behavior of child abuse investigators has to do with the fact that they are forced to make significant decisions regarding the health and welfare of children with limited information being provided to them.

Child Abuse Investigations

Upon receiving information about an alleged case of child abuse or neglect, the child protection agency may start an investigation, assign a social worker to look into the family circumstances, suggest counseling to families, and/or bring a proceeding in the Family Court in the State of New York for child abuse or child neglect. These proceedings can result in the removal of the child from the custody of the parent.

The issue that investigators and social workers for child protection agencies have is determining whether parents are mistreating their children or is this a situation where the parents are just trying to do the right thing.

father's advocateElliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights lawyer. His law firm protects parents from improper findings of child abuse and child neglect.