What Happens to My Child?
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Protective Services (by parents dealing with domestic violence)
- What is Child Protective Services?
- What does a CPS investigation mean?
- Will CPS automatically become involved with my family because we are in a family violence shelter?
- How will CPS help my children and me?
- Will CPS take my children away?
- If my children are taken away, can I get them back?
- How will staying in a family violence shelter affect me?
- What happens if I already have an open CPS case when I come to the shelter?
- Will CPS tell anyone else where we are?
- What happens when I leave the shelter?
Child Protective Services (CPS) is a state program required to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect to protect children. State law requires any person who believes that a child has been abused or neglected to make a report to CPS or to a law enforcement agency.
When investigating a report, a caseworker talks to and visually examines the child reported as abused or neglected. Other children in the family are also interviewed and visually examined. Caseworkers gather as much information as they can to determine if abuse has occurred, if the child is currently at risk of abuse, and who caused the abuse. After gathering all of the facts, the caseworker and supervisor decide whether abuse or neglect has occurred and whether further. CPS involvement is needed to protect the child.
No, seeking shelter does not result in an "automatic" report to CPS. CPS would become involved with your family only if someone reports abuse or neglect that affects your children. Seeking shelter in a family violence program is a good step to protect your child.
Your caseworker and supervisor will work with you to plan services best suited to support you and prevent harm to your children. Some of the services that CPS may provide include:
- Giving information to families.
- Referring them to community resources.
- Providing child day care.
- Homemaker services or parent training for helping find resources to pay for things such as essential household items or utility deposits.
Being investigated by CPS does not mean that your child will be taken away. CPS believes that children should not be taken away unless there is no other way to protect children from harm. Only when there is immediate danger to the children's physical health or safety, or after a court orders it, is CPS allowed to remove children from their parents' care.
Most removals are temporary for the protection of the children. Only in extreme cases are children taken away permanently. If your children are removed, the caseworker will work with you to make it safe for the children to return.
Staying in the shelter may be your best option to protect both you and your child. Working with shelter staff and using community resources is a good sign that you are willing to protect your child. If CPS is involved, your caseworker may offer services or resources to help you as well.
Tell your CPS caseworker that you have moved to the shelter and let them know how to get in touch with you. Your caseworker, as well as shelter staff, will help you. They are concerned about your safety and your children's safety.
The location of the shelter will not be revealed. Your family's safety is of primary concern to CPS. CPS is required to keep information about our clients confidential. The law requires CPS to notify both parents of an investigation, but not the location of the investigation or where you are staying.
When you leave the shelter, you will need a plan to protect yourself and your children. If CPS is working with you, discuss your options and alternatives with your caseworker. Having a safety plan in place to protect you and your children is important.