Most parents want only what is best for their children, enjoying their rights as parents and fulfilling their responsibilities under common, moral and government law. Sometimes, parents are accused - rightly or wrongly - of misusing these rights and responsibilities. Each state has child services offices dedicated to protecting the children of the state from harm.
By law, they must check out any report called in about a child who may not be safe. When child services gets involved in your life, it's normal to feel upset and even scared. Doing your best to stay calm and be cooperative can help get the situation resolved.
Child Services Checks for Abuse and Neglect
Workers will look for signs of abuse, meaning that someone is hurting the child emotionally or physically, as well as neglect, which means the parents aren't taking good care of the child. If your home is not safe, the worker can take your child to a relative or foster parent for temporary care. Otherwise, the worker will leave the child at home but may ask you to take steps to make the home safer. If necessary, the court gets involved to determine if the family should stay together or not.
Cooperate With the Child Services Worker
Dealing with child services can be stressful, but it helps if you can stay calm. Getting mad or slamming the door in the worker's face will make it look like you are hiding something. Instead, be as polite and cooperative as possible to show the worker that you can put your child's needs ahead of your own.
Get the Facts and Keep Records
You have the right to know what the complaint is about and what will happen next. In most states, you'll get a packet of information at the start of the case to help you know what's going on. You'll also get copies of reports as time goes on. It helps to keep all the paperwork together in a notebook or file. Keep notes for yourself about who you've talked to and what you've been told about the case.
Do What Is Asked of You
Depending on the situation, the worker may want you to go to counseling, parenting classes, rehab, or anger management classes. You may also need to attend meetings about your child or go to court. Always get there on time, dress neatly, and show that you have a positive attitude. Remember that you are doing this for your child, even if it's difficult for you.
A Family Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the intervention of child services into your family life is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a lawyer specializing in family law.