A CPSprotect Consulting Services Publication
What is CPS Afraid of? A Message for the Activists Among Us
So many explanations for why Child Protective Services (CPS) does what it does have been posed in the activist community: money, power, just plain not caring and more- some plausible and others sounding more like a conspiracy theory. While many have at least some merit and you can always find examples of why something might be bad, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely correct. We’ve done CPS investigations and every working hour at CPSprotect Consulting Services today is focused solely on helping families across the United States of America prepare for and navigate CPS investigations- which we describe as ‘among the most frightening experiences any parent can endure.’
CPS is afraid of one thing and one thing only: liability. This is also where many activists, with the help of the media, tend to shoot themselves in the foot- putting their cause further from their goal, rather than closer. CPS is held to the expectation that they operate without flaw. When CPS fails to act quickly enough or errs on the side of the parents and something happens to that child (severe abuse, neglect or death), CPS is held liable- especially those on the front lines. They could lose their jobs, be blacklisted and even prosecuted. However, if they can say they at least did something (removal, court-ordered services, etc.), then they can at least say they did something toward addressing the safety concern(s) and as a result, they’re protected. On this issue, precedent is very clear.
Every time CPS fails to act quickly enough or unsubstantiated a case and a child is severely abused, neglected or dies, the media coverage abounds. There’s no shortage of outrage. CPS failed to protect these child(ren) and should be held accountable. When this happens, it enforces the fear of liability. Governors watch their approval ratings fall and start worrying about the next election. Appointed bureaucrats fear being scapegoated. Typically, at least one employee will be sacrificed with the loss of their job and possible prosecution- usually one closer to the front lines and whether or not they had any say in the matter. If a front line CPS investigator didn’t end up in some sort of hot water, it was because they didn’t stay in the position long enough. When we expect CPS to operate without flaw, the courts assume CPS operates without flaw and the powers that be fear for their jobs and possibly their freedom in response to their constituents, they act on what they have control over- and what they have control over is CPS.
This means that even minor concerns that pale in comparison to what child(ren) are statistically at increased risk of in foster care end up facing intervention by CPS that most would consider disproportionate to the safety concern. As the authority of CPS to act functions in direct opposition to parental rights, this results in a further decimation of parental rights. If we want this to change, we have to be consistent in our answer to the following uncomfortable question:
How much of our parental rights are we willing to surrender to have zero deaths from child abuse and neglect and if not, how much child abuse and neglect are we willing to live with in this world?
Our founder posed this very question to the audience in a presentation at the 2022 National Federation of Families annual conference. No one had an answer. If we fail to answer this question, parental rights will only continue to weaken and parents will continue to be held to a standard of almost perfection as CPS rushes to action earlier and earlier in the process on more and more frivolous safety concerns and stays involved with families for longer and longer. We cannot have the right to raise our child(ren) as we see fit AND have zero child abuse and neglect. In a free society, people have the freedom to do good and the freedom to do evil. While we hope they chose to do good, there are some that chose to do evil and some of those will choose to direct that evil unto the most vulnerable among us: the children. While free will does not mean freedom from consequence, it does mean freedom of choice- both right and wrong.
If we are to stop the further decimation of parental rights, the people need to be consistent in their message. Just as even the best parents aren’t perfect, neither is the world we live in. If we continue to expect perfection and CPS is afraid of liability, we are not heading for better times. We are headed down a dark path. If we do not change course, we will eventually end up in a place where parents are symbolic in nature and nothing more. The words perpetual involvement won’t be theoretical anymore. There is no quick fix. Real change may require decades of hard work and there may be many unfair circumstances in the process. There will be plenty of individual wrongs along the way we may not be able to make right. Most people want change, but when it comes to doing the work and assuming the risk, no one raises their hand. Will you?