Each week, CPSknowledge will cover a term, law, or news story in child welfare and provide the information you need to know to better understand the child welfare system. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be. A new post is released every Thursday. CPSknowledge is a CPSprotect Consulting Services publication.

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A CPSprotect Consulting Services Publication 

A Special Needs Child in Crisis: How Can I Get Help from Law Enforcement Without the Follow-Up From CPS?Your child with autism has a meltdown you can’t safely keep under control. Your child with bipolar disorder has refused to take his or her medication for 3 days and is raging. Your teenager recently diagnosed with schizophrenia is hallucinating and you’re afraid for your safety and theirs. It’s 9:00 at night. You can’t reach the psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, mental health counselor or other pediatric mental health professional. There’s no one else home. What do you do? …September 21, 2023
The Catch-All Allegation: What Exactly is Inadequate Guardianship?The list of possible allegations in a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation vary by state- especially when it comes to neglect. Because of this lack of standardization, experiences may differ across states- even with an identical standard of evidence used to determine them. No state’s list of allegations covers all possible abusive or neglectful situations with specific allegations. This is where inadequate guardianship and similarly worded allegations with little specificity come into play. Non-specific allegations like inadequate guardianship are used …September 14, 2023
The Lowest Formal Burden of Proof: What is the Some Credible Evidence Standard?While some Child Protective Services (CPS) cases end in up in court, the determinations of whether child abuse or neglect occurred are exclusively the domain of CPS- not the courts. CPS agencies in most states (26) use the fair preponderance of the evidence standard to determine allegations of child abuse and neglect. However, in 25 states and Washington, D.C., CPS agencies use an even lower standard of evidence: the some credible evidence standard (or similar standard in different wording). With …September 7, 2023
Texas HB 63 & HB 730: Is Texas Leading the Way in Child Welfare Reform?With the passing of two bills set to take effect September 1st, 2023, Texas is trying to reign in the child welfare system. The first bill, HB 63, amends section 261.104 of the Texas Family Code to ban anonymous reporting of child abuse and neglect in the state of Texas and replace it with a confidential reporting only model. The second, HB 730, amends section 261.301 of the Texas Family Code to strengthens the rights of parents under active investigation …August 31, 2023
Chronic Medical Conditions & CPS: How is Your or Your Child’s Diagnosis Affecting the Outcome of Your Case?Chronic medical conditions are variable in their prevalence individually, but extremely common collectively. Data suggests more than half the population in the United States suffers from at least one chronic physical health condition. When you or your child has a diagnosed medical condition, it factors into CPS’ safety assessment…but how and what are the answers CPS is looking for? Chronic medical conditions by themselves are not usually safety concerns, but as soon as some aspect of its management falls outside …August 24, 2023
CPS & Public Schools: What Exactly is the Nature of Their Cozy Relationship?The public schools play a large role in Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement. After all, more than 1 in 5 reports to CPS in the United States is made by school staff. That’s more than 20% of all reports! Many parents report their children being pulled out of class and interviewed by CPS without their consent or notification. How did the schools become besties with CPS and is it legal? If so, how and what is the nature of the …August 17, 2023
The Investigative Consultant: How Does CPS Get Access to So Much Legal Information?In the course of a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation, an enormous amount of private personal information is collected and stored. When the government gets involved, people often assume realize the government has access to information the public may not necessarily get to see, but how this is done is often shrouded in mystery- as is usually the case when we’re talking about CPS. While CPS has connections to other executive government agencies (such as public schools, public health agencies …August 10, 2023
Using CPS for Nefarious Purposes: What Qualifies as a Malicious Report to CPS?Many families who have experienced Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement claim they are victims of malicious reports, but is it true? Just how prevalent are malicious reports to CPS? The truth is there isn’t much research on malicious reports made to CPS and we don’t actually know the prevalence. The Administration for Children & Families, the federal child welfare agency, stated that in 2019, intentionally false reports comprised 0.0% of all CPS reports made that year. While it’s inaccurate that …August 3, 2023
When CPS Doesn’t Do Everything Possible to Keep Families Together: What Does Reasonable Efforts Actually Mean?When Child Protective Services (CPS) removes child(ren) and places them in a different setting (foster care, kinship care or institutionalization), CPS often tells the court that despite their ‘reasonable efforts’ to keep the family together, they were unable to keep the child(ren) safe in the home. Therefore, removal was necessary. This is the typical narrative when CPS files a motion in the family court for a custody order and it’s usually granted. Many parents question whether the efforts made by …July 27, 2023
Supervised Visitation Outside of Foster Care: Who Can Supervise & How?When CPS removes your child(ren) and an order of protection against you is granted by the court, supervised visitation is often the only way you’re allowed to see your child(ren). However, CPS is not known for being an effective facilitator of consistent supervised visitation- especially under what the average person would consider reasonable conditions. In some cases, CPS can and does allow extended family members or close friends to supervise this visitation. Let’s go over the specific conditions, criteria and …July 20, 2023
The Master Law for CPS Agencies: What is the Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act?The Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (CAPTA), one of the oldest federal laws on the books specific to Child Protective Services (CPS), was passed in 1974. Its purpose was to provide a framework for CPS for states to follow, including required funding, structure and programs. It’s been amended numerous times since it was initially passed, with the most recent amendment made in 2018. As CPS only started to become the responsibility of states in the 1960s as the private …July 13, 2023
The Poverty Allegation: How Does CPS Define Inadequate Food/Clothing/Shelter?Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement has been known to be more common in lower income families than the highest income families, but whether or not CPS specifically penalizes poverty has been a subject of much debate. While poverty alone is not penalized by CPS, there is an allegation CPS investigates that has a higher specificity for the lowest tax brackets. That allegation is inadequate food/clothing/shelter. Inadequate food/clothing/shelter may be worded differently across states, but the allegation is just the same: …July 6, 2023
Divorce, Custody Disputes & CPS Reports: How Do I Make Sure I Can Still Raise My Kids?Divorce rates remain high and when children are in the picture, custody battles can get brutal- not to mention the potential for parental alienation if the divorce is a particularly messy one. In fact, you don’t even have to get divorced to end up in such a predicament- you just have to have had child(ren) with another human being. It’s not often said out loud, but Child Protective Services (CPS) can and is used as a weapon in child custody …June 29, 2023
Haaland v. Brackeen & the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978: What’s the Verdict, What’s the Law & How Does it Affect Families?The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) was created to protect the heritage of Native Americans (including Native Alaskan and Hawaiian peoples). ICWA was a response to a high incidence of removals of Native American children by the government and other parties that were placing them with non-Native families or boarding schools in an attempt to assimilate them without any effort to preserve the connection to their own cultural heritage. There is documented evidence of this activity in the …June 22, 2023
When CPS Brings the Cavalry: What Role Does Law Enforcement Play in CPS Cases?Occasionally, law enforcement gets directly involved in Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations. A family may be surprised when law enforcement shows up with CPS for reported allegations that may be frivolous, triggering thoughts of a disproportionate response. There’s a lot of confusion as to when law enforcement gets involved in CPS cases and the role they actually play. If a CPS investigator has a concern about his or her own safety due to the allegation(s) made in the report, s/he …June 15, 2023
The Guardian Ad Litem: What are These ‘Best Interests’ My Child Has & How are They Represented?Your CPS case has been brought to court and an attorney is appointed to represent your child(ren)…or the ‘best interests’ of your children…or something. This attorney is called the guardian ad litem and they are not your child(ren)’s attorney- that’s a common misconception. The reality is mixed up in false assumptions, a dead language and a poorly defined term. Guardian ad litem is a legal term with Latin roots meaning: guardian for the purposes of legal action only. They are …June 8, 2023
I Can’t Define it, but I Know What it is: How Does CPS Assess Supervision of Children?In our experience, lack of supervision is the most contentious allegation Child Protective Services (CPS) investigates. Lack of supervision is among the most common allegations reported by non-mandated reporters. It’s an allegation of hindsight and therefore, very difficult to prevent in the course of doing right by your child(ren). Children don’t all develop at the same rate and there are so many variables at play when it comes to determine how much independence is appropriate for a child to have. …June 1, 2023
Gender Transitions for Minors & CPS: How do you Preserve Your Rights & Protect Your Family?Gender transitions for minors are a highly contested issue and generally speaking, states are legislating accordingly along partisan lines; blue states are demanding that parents get any child who claims to be of a different gender do whatever the child says immediately including hormones and surgery, while red states are predominantly trying to outlaw gender transitions of minors entirely. Both approaches have one thing in common, though: the parents are nowhere to be found in the decision-making process. Child Protective …May 25, 2023
Removal of Newborns with Prenatal Substance Exposure: When, Why & On What Grounds?The most common situation in which Child Protective Services (CPS) resorts to family separation is when a newborn child tests positive for illicit drugs due to prenatal substance exposure. Typically, when a hospital runs this test on a newborn and it comes back positive, they will immediately report it to CPS and the removal will be performed at the hospital. CPS tends to take a remove first and ask questions later approach in these types of cases. Occasionally, the removal …May 18, 2023
Persons Legally Responsible: Who Can be Held Responsible by CPS for Child Maltreatment?It’s commonly assumed that in order to be determined responsible for child abuse or neglect by Child Protective Services (CPS), you need to be a parent or other primary caregiver to child(ren). Don’t be fooled- just because they’re not your children doesn’t mean you can’t be held responsible by CPS. While terminology may vary by state, individuals who can be determined responsible for child abuse or neglect are commonly referred to as persons legally responsible (PLRs). PLRs are formally defined …May 11, 2023
Medical Mimics of Child Abuse: What Can You Do When the ‘Experts’ Misinterpret the Evidence?All medical professionals are mandated reporters to Child Protective Services (CPS) and there are a number of medical conditions that can mimic signs of child abuse. Individually, most of these conditions are relatively rare, but collectively, they’re less so. When these conditions are reported to CPS as alleged child abuse (or in some cases, Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy), the consequences can be devastating. What are these medical conditions and what can I do to avoid the worst CPS has to …May 4, 2023
The Work Flow of a CPS Case: What is CPS’ Road Map?Child Protective Services (CPS) investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect, but how does that happen? There are a lot of steps that go into investigating child abuse and neglect. First, the intake phase of involvement is triggered by a call to a child abuse hotline to make a report of child abuse or neglect. These are either state hotlines, usually toll-free, or local county reporting numbers in some states. There is also a national hotline that can forward calls …April 27, 2023
Raising My Child as I See Fit: How Does CPS View Corporal Punishment & What do I Need to Know?Corporal punishment is often a controversial topic in child rearing; some parents swear by its efficacy, while others condemn it entirely. When Child Protective Services (CPS) comes into the picture, though, your view doesn’t matter. What does matter is how CPS views it and if your view and that of CPS are in conflict, potential consequences can be severe. Taking this into account, what does the research show, what doesn’t it show, what are your rights and how can you …April 20, 2023
The Adoption & Safe Families Act: Why the Rush to Terminate Parental Rights?The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 is a comprehensive federal law that seeks to promote the safety and well-being of children in the child welfare system. The AFSA was intended to protect the safety of children, reduce the number of children living in foster care and reduce the time children whose parents have had their parental rights terminated spend in foster care. Despite these intentions, the implementation of ASFA has had a number of negative effects. The …April 13, 2023
When Taking Care of Your Health Gets You in Trouble: What Medications Can Cause a False Positive Drug Test & How Should You Handle it With CPS?Toxicology screens (drug tests) are universally requested by Child Protective Services (CPS) when there are allegations or signs of drug use by any household member (child or adult). Sometimes, they’re also requested even without any evidence to suggest drug use by any household member at all. We at CPSprotect have seen many cases where people who think they have nothing to fear agree to a toxicology screen and to their surprise, end up testing positive. A few are errors made …April 6, 2023
Mandated Reporters of Child Maltreatment: What Are They & Why the Mandate?Required generally by the federal Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (CAPTA) with the specifics delegated to state discretion, a mandated reporter is an individual who is required by law to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. In most jurisdictions, mandated reporters are professionals such as educational professionals, mental health professionals, social workers, law enforcement and healthcare providers. However, some states also require any resident who suspects child abuse or neglect to make a report- …March 30, 2023
Specialized Case Consultants: What Are They & How Can They Help or Hurt My Case?Since Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators and supervisors are not licensed experts in all areas, they often require the assistance of specialists who consult with them on cases. These specialists are licensed practitioners in areas such as health care, law enforcement, domestic violence mental health and substance abuse- but what role do these specialized case consultants play and how do they fit into an investigation? There have been many cases where CPS has gotten in trouble for removing children based …March 23, 2023
Mental Health & CPS: How is Your or Your Child’s Mental Health Diagnosis Affecting the Outcome of Your Case?Mental health conditions are extremely common (as far as chronic conditions go). Data suggests the prevalence of mental illness is as high as 1 in 5. When you or your child has a diagnosed mental health condition, it factors into CPS’ safety assessment…but how and what are the answers CPS is looking for? Mental health conditions by themselves are not safety concerns, but as soon as some aspect of its management falls outside the ideal, it enters a murky area …March 16, 2023
Marijuana Use by Household Members: How is it Addressed by CPS?As Marijuana is legalized in more and more states for medicinal and recreational purposes, you may wonder how CPS is keeping up with the changing times. Well…CPS hasn’t changed the way it addresses marijuana use and in this article, we’ll go over in detail just how they address it. CPS identifies marijuana use in one or more of the following ways: by eyewitness accounts (from your child(ren), other adults in the household, law enforcement or collateral contacts such as neighbors, …March 9, 2023
Domestic Incident Reports: How Does a Brief Argument Turn into Long-Term CPS Involvement?Domestic Incident Reports (DIRs) are police reports of alleged or confirmed domestic violence incidents. These are written when the police respond to a 911 call or in-person report of domestic violence. This can be verbal, physical or both. Even if no one is arrested and all parties deny any domestic violence occurred, a DIR will still be written. If a law enforcement officer observes child(ren) in the home, they will call CPS to investigate, as law enforcement officers are mandated …March 2, 2023
Child Advocacy Centers: What Are They and Why Does the Name Sound Misleading?Child Advocacy Centers are run by non-profit contractors to CPS and often work closely with the local police departments. Before Child Advocacy Centers, in cases with allegations of severe abuse, CPS, law enforcement and the courts would all want to interview a child about allegations and telling a story like that once is traumatic enough; imagine having to tell it over and over again. The Child Advocacy Centers were established to reduce the amount of times children and families had …February 23, 2023
The Differential Response: What is it & What Does it Mean for CPS Investigations?The Differential Response is a Child Protective Services (CPS) practice that allows agencies to tailor their response to the unique needs of each family. The Differential Response is based on the premise that not all families who come to the attention of CPS need the same level of intervention. Some families may need only minimal intervention, while others may require more intensive services. The differential response is outlined nationally in the Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (CAPTA), but it …February 16, 2023
Title IV-E of the Social Security Act: How Does Funding CPS Really Work?Child Protective Services (CPS) often gets accused of profiting off children and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act is commonly used to explain how…but is it true? CPS denies it, but the real answer is…there is some truth to it. It’s complicated. Let’s go through exactly how it works: Title IV-E of the Social Security Act is a federal program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that provides funds to states, territories, and …February 9, 2023
Anonymous Reporting of Child Abuse & Neglect: How Does it Differ from Confidential Reporting?All reports made to child abuse hotlines in the United States are confidential. Most states allow anonymous reports by legal statute- only 7 do not. First of all, a confidential report is any report made to the child abuse hotline where the information about the source of the report is kept private or is on a need-to-know basis. This is to protect the source from retaliation for making the report. Anonymous reports are accepted by legal statute in most states …February 2, 2023
The Minimum Standard of Care: What is it & How Does CPS Define it?The minimum standard of care in the context of Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement is the level of care that is considered to be adequate for a child at any given time. This standard is based on the child’s age, development, and needs. It is important to note that the minimum standard of care is not the same as the optimal level of care. The minimum standard of care is the level of care that is considered to be adequate …January 26, 2023
Childhood Vaccinations & CPS: When is it Neglect & How Can I Protect My Rights?In response to the mandates of the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of if or when to vaccinate has entered the general conversation. While COVID-19 has not been shown to cause high rates of hospitalization and death in children, children who were unvaccinated for COVID-19 faced significant restrictions in many jurisdictions- particularly where they could go and what they could do. In addition, what was a conversation on COVID-19 vaccinations in children has turned into one on childhood vaccination in general, …January 19, 2023
The Family First Prevention Services Act: What is it and How Does it Apply to Me?The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) is a federal law that provides funding to states to support evidence-based programs that prevent child abuse and neglect. Passed as an amendment to Parts B and E of Title IV of the Social Security Act in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act was a response to the growing body of research on the importance of early intervention in preventing child maltreatment and the political inconvenience of …January 12, 2023
Educational Neglect: What is it & Why is CPS Interested?Educational neglect is a particular form of neglect investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS) in 27 states and Washington, D.C. (a full list of those states can be found at the end of this article). Put simply, it is the failure to provide the minimum adequate educational opportunities for a child. This can include excessive absences from school, not providing necessary materials for school, not providing adequate supervision for homework or refusing reasonable special education services for your child. Educational …January 5, 2023
A Fair Preponderance of the Evidence: What is Required to Substantiate a Case?While CPS investigation determination terms may vary by state, all will have a determination resembling one of two outcomes: substantiated or unsubstantiated. How does CPS determine this? The answer is they use a standard of evidence (also known as a burden of proof). The one we are most familiar with is the reasonable doubt standard, which is used in criminal court in the United States and is where we get the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ phrase. This is not the …December 29, 2022
The History of Child Protective Services: How Did We Get Here?The idea that children should be protected is as old as our existence and is not just present in humans: protection of the offspring is present in the animal kingdom, too. The story of Child Protective Services (CPS) as we understand it today starts in New York City in 1864 with the birth of a baby girl named Mary Ellen Wilson. Shortly after her birth, her father Thomas Wilson, died. Her mother, Francis Wilson, now having to work, boarded Mary …December 22, 2022
Prevention Services Vs. CBOs: What are They & Why do They Matter?When people think of services offered by child welfare agencies and their partners, they think of services like domestic violence counseling, psychotherapy, parenting classes and more. What they don’t think of are the strings that could be attached when services are offered through child welfare agencies; these are commonly known as prevention services. Prevention services is a term for a wide range of in-home services offered to families in child welfare investigations allegedly designed to prevent child removal, often administered …December 15, 2022
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