Even the best parents can feel overwhelmed by a visit from a social worker. Despite giving your kids everything they need, a social worker might make you feel you’re not doing enough. Having any stranger come into your home to essentially judge whether or not it’s suitable for your kids is intimidating and stressful. It’s important for parents to remember that the last thing social workers want to do is remove children from their families. This can actually be far more damaging for both the kids and the family.
Parents should know what social workers are looking for when doing a home visit. This will ensure that parents are less stressed and less likely to make a small mistake during the visit. Parents should also take the time to know what CPS can and cannot do during this visit. 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.
How To Prepare For a CPS Home Visit
Prepare yourself to answer some (possibly) uncomfortable questions. Normally if CPS is called to the home, it’s because there’s concerns over the child’s safety. This could mean a bad fight in public with your child where law enforcement was involved. Assess the reason or incident why CPS has now found it necessary to be 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 about if your home is a safe place for your children. Your social 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.
5 Things Social Workers Look For During a Home Visit
Aside from ensuring the family dynamic is stable and safe, your social worker will be looking for some other things as well. Your social worker will need some space and a distraction-free area to speak with you, so make sure you have somewhere set up for that. While interviewing you, your social worker will look for:
Have you provided a space for you and your social worker to talk distraction-free? Is your space relatively clean and hygienic? Your home probably doesn’t need to be spotless, but it should be tidy before the social worker comes. Your home should, more importantly, 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 all construction in the house is complete and 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, your social worker will also make sure that you have all preventive measures ready. Do you have locks on your garage, attic, or basement if they’re unsafe for kids? Are all the smoke detectors working properly, adn are you prepared for any emergencies?
There should be no illegal substances in your home. Any liquor or other harmful substances should 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.
Above all, your children’s basic need 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 healthy options.
In addition to your children’s basic needs, your social worker will also look at the needs of your pets. Are all your pets properly fed and bathed? A pet can be a tell-tale sign that your home is unsafe. If your pet has ticks or fleas or there’s signs and smells of animal waste, your home could be seen as incredibly hazardous to your children.
Your Relationship To Them As A Parent
For the most part, social workers and 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.
The social worker 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 they’ll be taken away 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.