Legally Protect Yourself During A CPS Home Visit
It’s one of the most stressful things a parent can endure: a CPS visit. You may have one scheduled, or your CPS social worker showed up unexpectedly. The best thing to do during an investigation is to know how to prepare for it.
Even the best parents can feel overwhelmed by a visit from a social worker. Having any stranger come into your home to essentially judge whether or not it’s suitable for your kids is intimidating and stressful. Despite giving your kids everything they need, a social worker might make you feel you’re never doing enough.
Parents should know what social workers are looking for when doing a home visit. This way, the visit will be less stressful, and parents are less likely to make small mistakes. The most important thing that both parents and social workers want is for children to be safe and happy. Here are 5 things CPS looks for during a home visit.
Also Read: How Child Support Affects Your Taxes
How To Prepare For a CPS Home Visit
Prepare yourself to answer some (possibly) uncomfortable questions. Normally if CPS is called, it’s because there’s concerns over a child’s safety. This could mean a bad fight in public with your child to even a neighbour worrying that you can’t pay rent.
Assess the reason or incident that caused CPS to get involved. Take some time to reflect on your personal choices and your parenting tactics. Ask yourself:
- How you do discipline your children
- Is the discipline effective, yet safe
- Do you meet all your children’s needs
- Are there more effective ways for you to conduct these things
Parents are only human. They can make mistakes, just like anyone else, even when it comes to parenting. Take some time to reflect on your home’s safety and your parenting.
Your CPS worker will ask questions about your parenting. Remain claim, even if the questions seem ridiculous like “have you ever hit your child to discipline them?” Be sure to also make note of the last time they were sick, went to the doctor, and what shots they’ve had.
Also Read: What CPS Can And Cannot Legally Do During Investigations
5 Things Social Workers Look For During a Home Visit
Aside from ensuring the family dynamic is stable and safe, your CPS will also look for some other things. Your CPS social worker will need some space and a distraction-free area to speak with you. Make sure you have a space set up for this interview. While interviewing you, your social worker will look for:
Have you created a space for you and your CPS social worker to talk distraction-free? This space needs to be relatively clean, and have no distractions like a TV. Your home doesn’t need to be spotless, but it should be tidy before CPS comes. Most importantly, your home should be safe.
Above all, there should be a space for your children. Aside from food, water, and shelter, kids also need to have fun. The social worker will look for some toys, or other items that belong to your kids. Don’t panic if your children’s room is a little messy, the social worker is only making sure they have a livable space in your home.
Aside from having a clean and livable space, your social worker will also look to see if your home is free of any hazards. Make sure there is nothing that could make your home dangerous. This could mean ensuring wires are tucked away and unused outlets are covered. This also means making sure that things like loose steps are repaired right away. Any trip, fall, electrical, and safety hazards should be taken care of.
Make sure any that could be harmful to your children is safely stored and locked away. This includes:
- Detergents and cleaners
- Pest control products
- Other chemicals
- Power tools and other equipment
- Prescription drugs
In addition to ensuring that your home is safe, the CPS social worker will also make sure that you have some preventive measures ready. This includes locks on your garage, attic, or basement if they’re unsafe for kids. All the smoke detectors should also work properly, and are you’re prepared for any emergency.
There should be no illegal substances in your home. Any liquor or other harmful substances need to be locked away and out of your children’s reach.
In addition to looking for signs of your own personal use of illicit substances, your social worker will also look for signs of creating, buying, and selling of anything illegal.
Your CPS social worker will look at the condition of your pets. All your pets should be properly fed, bathed, and habituated. A pet can be a tell-tale sign that your home is unsafe. If your pet has ticks, fleas, or there’s signs and smells of animal waste, your home could be seen as incredibly hazardous to your children.
Above all, your children’s basic needs must be met. This means making sure your fridge and pantry is full enough to feed your entire family. Anywhere where food is stored should also be clean and stocked with relatively healthy options. Kids should also have toys to play with and have evidence that they are in school if they’re old enough.
Also Read: Can CPS Take Your Child For Missing School?
Your Relationship To Them As A Parent
For the most part, CPS workers just want to make sure your children are safe and you have a good relationship with them. The social worker will ask some pretty basic questions about what they like and don’t like. Let them know what a normal day looks like for your family, and some ways that you bond with them.
CPS is allowed to speak with your children alone. Be sure to prepare them as well. They don’t need to lie about anything, but they shouldn’t fear the social worker either.
What To Do If Your Kids Are Unlawfully Taken Away
It’s unlikely that a social worker will take your children away upon their first visit. Unless your home presents an immediate danger to your children, it’s rare CPS will take your kids after one visit. However, it can happen if the home puts your kids in immediate danger.
If your home is safe and you feel your case worker judged your situation a little too harshly, you can always call a family lawyer to see how you should proceed. You may have had an off day, or you feel your case worker has discriminated against you. To find a family lawyer near you, call the number at the top of your screen.
Also Read: How To Report An Unethical CPS Worker
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