Protect your self from CPS
Revised April, 2010.
Here are some of my recommendations. Keep in mind that I am not an
attorney and this is not legal advice — so consider the source. Get an
attorney if at all possible, and discuss these things with him/her.
Your attorney will understand local procedures better than I possibly
As you deal with the interview remember to be polite. Child
protective services workers have copped an attitude and gone after
hostile and terrified parents, thinking they must have something to
hide. Treat the social services caseworkers respectfully, but don’t give
them any information, or leads to more information.
They may need to see your children in order to close the case, and
they will probably want to talk to both parents. Don’t be afraid. Do
whatever needs to be done in order to get the case closed.
The less said, the better. Child protective services social workers
usually show up at your door with little to no evidence. If they are
acting on an anonymous tip, they have NOTHING. They cannot get a court
order on an anonymous tip. The only thing they can use against you is
information you give them.
Record and Document Everything
Check your state recording laws. Print out a copy of your state’s law, and put it in a file folder entitled “Child Welfare Agents” near your front door. Have a tape recorder and blank tape
or video campera handy in the house at all times. If a child
protective services social worker shows up at your door, be prepared to
tape the interview. You can, at that time, show them that you have a
copy of the law. Don’t be coerced not to tape — this is your legal
right if your state law says it is. Video tape is better than audio
tape, if you can afford to do that instead.
Furthermore, you must document everything that happens in writing!
Take notes. An English activist recommends you write down every word
and insist that the worker must wait until the words are properly
recorded. You have the right.
Keep a spiral-bound notebook on hand
and use it to document every contact with child protective services or
child protective services appointed “service providers”. Don’t back
down on this! Prepare in advance, and stand firm against CPS agents!
After each contact, write a letter (some recommend having such a letter
notarized) detailing what occurred, and request that the social worker
confirm or deny the facts as you understand them within ten days of
receipt of your letter. If no letter disputing the facts is received,
then your statement of facts will be automatically confirmed. This form
of documentation can later be used as evidence in your favor in
juvenile court. See: Your Case Notebook – Is It Up To Date?
Don’t Invite The CPS Worker Inside
You are under no obligation to let a child protective services social
worker into your house. Under the basic law of our land, the United States Constitution, Amendment Four,
you have the right to privacy in your home. No government agent of any
type is allowed to enter your home without your permission. We know of
many cases where entry was coerced by statements such as “let me in or
I’ll take your kids”. Do not give in! Do not give up your
Constitutional Rights! Stand firm on this! If your rights are not
honored, you can sue them later, but it is so much better to force them
to honor your rights now. Check out Forced Entry Lawsuit.
The only exception would be if the child protective services agent
shows up with a law enforcement officer bearing a search warrant.
Usually that doesn’t happen — and I will tell you why. The child
protective services agent is there at your door to gather evidence.
Usually he doesn’t have enough real evidence to detain your child right
away and there is not enough “probable cause” to obtain a search
warrant. Typically, he will be just working on a phoned-in tip from
someone who wants to retaliate against you for something. If you talk a
lot, your words will be twisted in such a way as to be used against you
in court. Also if you allow this person into your home, he will most
likely find something there to complain about and use against you in
court. A sink with 8 dishes needing washing can show up in his report
as “a sink full of dirty dishes and a filthy kitchen” which of course
would serve to make you look bad to a judge. Therefore, just don’t let
these people into your home. You have no idea what an issue a child
protective services social worker can make out of a pile of laundry
sitting next to your washing machine!
If the complaint the child protective services social worker is there
to investigate is that your house is dirty, you can go inside, take a
few digital photos, and then go back outside to show her the house is
just fine. Or, you can tell her that without a court order there will be
no entry into your private home thanks to the Fourth Amendment of the
US Constitution. If she’s working with only an anonymous tip, she will
not be able to get a court order. If instead, she has credible evidence,
she may be able to get one.
Say As Little As Possible
Of course, when you first see child protective services social
workers on your doorstep, you want these people to go away and close
their case. This will make you want to tell them things to clarify that
you are not a danger to your children. Be careful what you say. As any activist will tell you, anything you say can be twisted and used against you!
For example, I thought it was good that my spouse and I were already
involved in therapy and a 12-Step group for adult children of
alcoholics. However this statement was used against me. It was used as
evidence that I had problems and needed “services”. The fact that I was
already taking care of my own needs and didn’t need a court order to do
these things didn’t help.
Another thing you really shouldn’t tell CPS agents is whether you
were once in state custody. When you tell them you were a foster child,
first of all they know there’s a file out there with your name in it
from which they can pull documents to use as “evidence” against you. In
my case, most of the paperwork in our thick file was pulled from my
spouse’s very thick state custody file. They claimed they had evidence
that he was violent from the time he was in kindergarten and they were
prepared to use that juvenile file against us, even though he had never
harmed our child. Second, if you tell them you were a foster child, it
marks you as a victim and makes them think you can be victimized more.
Former foster children have their children detained at a rate much
higher than most, so just be on the safe side and don’t mention that
fact if it pertains to you. It really is none of their business. You
should not open your mouth to help them make a case against you.
It is also not wise to tell them something like, “I am not an abuser –
I should know what that is – I was abused as a child.” What this says
to them is that you were abused therefore you are likely to be an
abuser. Believe me, no matter what terrible situation you went through
as a child, it is better not to mention that to a social worker. They
will not feel so sorry for you that they will just go away. No, it
doesn’t work that way. They are looking for bad things to say about you
to pad their caseworker report when they present it to a judge.
Yet another thing you shouldn’t say is whether your child was
detained in the past. A history of child protective services
interference in your family tells a caseworker you are on their hit
list. If you have ever had a child taken from you by Termination of
Parental Rights (TPR) move to another state or better yet, out of the
country, and keep it a secret! There is a 1996 law (ASFA – the Adoptions
and Safe Families Act) that gives the child protective services agents
the right to take away all future children if you ever had a TPR in the
past. If this law is used against you, there will be no reunification
plan, no “reasonable efforts” to keep your family together, and most
likely no visitation.
Another thing to beware of: they may ask you for referrals to people
to help prove your fitness to parent. For example, I was asked for my
ex-husband’s phone number. Thinking he would give me a good referral, I
complied. As it turned out, he was told that making a statement against
me would help him keep custody of our children. The most damaging
“evidence” they got against me were false statements signed by this
ex-husband and his girlfriend, who had only met me briefly once and had
never been in my home! This woman had the gall to make a twelve page
false statement typed on legal paper regarding my parenting abilities!
She called it an “affidavit” but did not sign it under penalty of
perjury, and for good reason! Therefore I advise that you NOT give them
“leads” to your friends, family, ex-spouses, therapists, doctors, etc.
They are just looking for “evidence” against you and they are experts at
coercing this sort of evidence from people who know you. Make them find
their own evidence — don’t help them find or make contacts!
So, if CPS agents are at your door, stand firm and say as little as
you possibly can! If you feel they are making a case against you
anyhow, get an attorney to help you through an interview in your attorney’s office.
Don’t Trust CPS Social Workers
In other words, know the enemy. Know who child protective services
workers are. I used to work with child protective services workers in
the Dept. of Public Social Services, Visalia, California, so I think I’m
in a position to tell you what these government agents are like, though
I’ve never been one. (I was a welfare eligibility worker.) The
typical child protective services social worker is there for one reason:
to have a job to pay his/her bills. This worker cannot afford to lose
the job, so s/he will do whatever the supervisor says in order to
Now, if this child protective services social worker is put into a
unit assigned to go investigate referrals and to make decisions
regarding detainment of children, then naturally this person would be
suspect if s/he never detained a kid! In order to maintain employment,
this child protective services social worker will have to take a certain
number of children into custody… therefore when they are at your home,
they are thinking to themselves, “what can I find out about this family
to build a case aimed at taking their kid?” They must have a case to
take into court, and they are there, looking for evidence.
Even if they seem nice and harmless, remember, this is how child
protective services makes money. To keep their jobs, they must take
away children from their families. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
They come to your door saying, “I’m just here to help.” The next thing
you know, your children are in state custody and you are in court trying
to prove your innocence. Remember, even if you like the person, behind
every pleasant personality is a need to keep the child protective
services social worker job. Behind every seemingly nice caseworker there
is a more experienced child protective services supervisor who may tell
your caseworker to “find something” to use to detain your child. You
would not believe some of the idiotic allegations I have seen in
caseworker reports… but if they can get a judge to rubber stamp their
side of the story, they can get away with keeping your children in state
custody. Don’t trust these people!
You need to understand that child protective services funding is
closely tied in with “service providers”. It is likely that the social
worker will offer some kind of deal, saying you can keep your kid if you
agree to “services” like psychological testing, drug testing, therapy,
etc. What this offer really means is that they don’t have enough
evidence to take your child into their custody, but if you will just go
to their “service providers” they may get the “evidence” they need
through these “service provider” reports.
Say, for example, you are accused of drug use. They want you to go to
a drug testing service to prove your innocence. You say, “Okay, I’m not
a drug user, I’ll go”. But then you find yourself facing false-positive
results … or if you miss an appointment, you are told that will count
as a positive drug test. Your life is being severely interfered with
because you have to go to scheduled appointments, miss work, make
special child care arrangements, etc. Believe me, all this is not a
“service” to you, no matter what they call it! It is only a way for
child protective services social workers to try to get “evidence”
against you so they can take your children away.
What I recommend based on what I’d do in similar circumstances: Do
NOT sign their plans. Do NOT admit to anything. Force them to PROVE
their cases in court, in a FULL TRIAL. Don’t accept just a hearing where
you are coerced to sign guilty to the charges. They will try every
trick in the book to get you to agree to their sick “service plans”.
Stand firm and just say “no” when they ask you to sign your legal rights
Just Say “NO” To Private Interviews With Your Child
The CPS agents will want to talk to your child alone. Just say “NO”.
Tell the agents that your child has the right to have an attorney
present, and that if he insists on an interview then you and the
attorney will be present and the interview will be recorded, preferably
on videotape. Of course, if your child is attending a public school, you
probably won’t get a chance to say “no”. What would happen is that the
social worker would go to the school and, behind your back, get
permission to talk with your children from the school employees. You can
tell the school ahead of time (in writing) that you don’t permit such
interviews, or anything other than basic education activities, however
you cannot trust school employees to go by your wishes. It might help to
ask your attorney to write a letter to the school forbidding interviews
with CPS workers. Keep in mind that the public schools are one of the
major sources of CPS referrals. I have heard that caseworkers complain
that public school employees actually want more child detentions than
CPS agents do!
My advice is not to trust the schools, and to homeschool if possible.
I am a big homeschooling advocate because I believe it is best for
kids, and one of these days I will write a page about that too… but in
the meantime, just keep in mind that it is hard to say “no” to
interviews if your child’s school will say “yes”.
Already the government puts child protective services social workers
into public schools to look for target children. Eventually this may be
the case in every public school. I think this is a good place for me to
mention that I support the separation of school and state. Please check it out.
Be sure your children know that they have the right to say, “I don’t
want to be interviewed without my parents and an attorney and a tape
recorder present.” Child protective services social workers will not
tell your child that s/he has the right to say that. If there is still
time, you must be the one to train your child how to deal with
government agents. Be sure your child knows the consequences of child
protective services interviews. If anyone is detained, it is the child.
If they say the wrong thing, they can be taken into custody and removed,
possibly permanently, from parents, siblings, friends, their home town,
their pets, and everything else they hold dear in life! They will be
traumatized by that separation, and probably put on harmful adult
psychotropic drugs to deal with the separation. See: Drugging Foster Children.
If they complain too much about being incarcerated in state custody
homes, they may be put into mental hospitals, or placed in restraints,
which are known to be deadly.
“Teach your children well,” as the old song goes. We live in perilous
times. We owe it to our children to help them learn to deal with
government agents that may harm them. Remember, children are eight to
ten times more at risk of abuse in foster and group homes, so we are not
over-reacting in teaching our children these self-protective measures.
I’ve suggested that you keep the following things on hand: a tape recorder, blank tape, video camera, spiral-bound notebook, and a file folder marked “Child Welfare Agents”.
If you have time to prepare for a visit before it happens, you are very
lucky. Most people don’t take the threat of government interference in
their lives seriously — until after it happens to them.
To prepare, I suggest the following items be printed out from the
internet and placed in your folder: your state and federal laws
regarding child welfare services; court cases that insure your rights;
the Bill of Rights, newspaper articles and statistics showing that
children are not safe in state custody homes. Be prepared to show these
things to the social worker that comes to your door, and question them
about the wisdom of taking children into state custody where they are
eight to ten times more at risk of abuse.
If they want to take your kids, question them about the “reasonable
efforts” requirement to keep families together, and about what
“pre-placement preventative services” they are offering. If they want
your child, ask about what “imminent danger” exists. Let them know that
you know the laws!
For example, if they claim something happened on Monday to your child
but they show up on Friday afternoon to pick your child up, you should
be telling these social workers that obviously no “imminent danger”
exists or they would have acted on the report right away! If you don’t
stand firm and point out their mistakes, they will walk all over you and
violate their own laws in many different ways. Yes, your child still
might be detained, but if you show them you know their laws and can
speak their lingo, they will think twice before choosing you as a new
In addition to the paperwork detailed above, keep on hand in this
“Child Welfare Agents” file your pediatrician’s doctor reports showing
that your child is healthy. Every time your child sees a physician,
request in writing that the full report be sent to you. You should not
give these reports to a CPS agent, but you can let him know you have
evidence showing that you are a good parent, not an abuser. Flash the
papers before his/her face, don’t hand them over to be read… these are
your own valuable documents and you don’t need to share or tell the
worker who the child’s doctor is. Let the worker find evidence on
his/her own. Don’t help a CPS agent try to build a case against you.
The point of having this folder is to let the social worker know that you know the laws and you are prepared to defend yourself!
You are not going to share your “evidence” with a social worker. They
have no right to it unless the case goes to court, and then you share it
with your attorney only – or if you’re representing yourself, you can
enter items like pediatrician reports into the court records as
Be prepared to face coercion, even from your own court appointed
attorney. Just like many others, I too was told by my county attorney
that I could take my child home that day if I would just sign guilty to
the charges, and I was so desperate to get my baby, I signed. Thousands
of us have done that. Believe me, it is better to say “No – I want a
full trial – you must prove your charges!” If you give in to the
coercion, you will be jumping through their “service plan” hoops for
months to come. If you go through with a trial, there’s a possibility
you will win your freedom from this government interference in your
If you go through a trial, and your child is adjudged a state ward, and
you are court-ordered to complete a “service plan” or “reunification
plan,” then of course you should do your best to complete every part of
it before the next court hearing. This plan will most likely include
psychological testing and counseling — that is a standard waste of
taxpayer money. If the social workers want to court order you to anything
that does not apply to your case, you should insist that your attorney
fight this requirement in court. For example, if they want you to go to
drug testing despite the fact that you are not a drug user and they have
no evidence that you might be, then fight it! After the court hearing,
if social workers try to force you into “services” that are not
in the court-ordered plan you can refuse to cooperate. You are only
required to do things that the judge has ordered. You should document
all such illegal requests for additional services that haven’t been
required by a judge. You can request a state administrative hearing from the state social services department to discuss these requests with an Administrative Law Judge.
Likewise you may find that child protective services social workers are trying to delay setting up services that are
court ordered. You must document your repeated requests for such
services and the excuses the child protective services social workers
give for delaying the start of such services. Child protective services
agents have been known to delay services so that your case will last
longer. If your child is in state custody for 15 months, your parental
rights can be terminated on that basis alone. Your goal will be to get
your child returned at the next court hearing, so don’t allow delays!
Here’s the link to an article I wrote about child welfare investigations and your rights:
Investigations v. Rights
What Others Recommend
- Ten Tips When the Social Worker is at Your Door – from a former law enforcement agent in Ohio. Great information!
- I Need Help Fighting CPS Now – good advice at the site of the American Family Rights Association.
- Taking Over Your Case – defending yourself Sui Juris in juvenile court… great article with practical advice.
- Your Constitutional Rights: Use Them Or Lose Them – learn more about your Constitutional Rights before its too late!
- Responding to a Visit from Children’s Protective Services – by Linda J. Conrad, an attorney who works with the HomeSchool Association of California.
- If You’re the Subject of a DCYF Investigation – attorney Paula Werme’s advice on what to do when a child welfare investigation begins.
- Parents victimized by children’s protective services – good notes on cases built on unconstitutional religious prejudices.
- What To Do If DSS Comes to Your Door – suggestions from a Massachusetts attorney, Gregory A. Hession.
- Dont’s and Do’s When Falsely Accused – this was written by a friend of mine back in 1995.
- Save Your Children – click on “When they knock” for some good information.
- Answering the CPS (Child Protective Services) Questions – suggestions from a Virginia homeschooling site.
- What to Do If Child Protective Services Social Workers Are Investigating You
- Arizona: CPS Social Workers, Attorney, and Law Enforcement Agents Must Face a Jury Over Coerced Forced Entry
- Parents: Do You Remember The Fourth Amendment?
- Who Will Prepare Your Case?
- Michigan: Parents Flee With Their Infant To Avoid CPS
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