Every parent’s worst nightmare is having their children taken away. When CPS opens an investigation on your family, that fear suddenly comes to life. Even during CPS investigations, parents still have rights. Despite your parental rights and all your best efforts as a parent, some CPS social workers just don’t play fair.
Even today, CPS social workers can still discriminate against you. Discriminatory and unethical social workers often tear apart families and cause irreversible psychological damage to everyone. As a parent, you and your children have rights against any discriminatory and unethical behavior. Parents should familiarize themselves with the things CPS can and cannot legally do to prevent wrongful actions.
But how do you take action against a social worker who’s clearly wrong? Today, we’ll show you what CPS considers discriminatory and unethical behavior. This will help you if you need to report an unethical CPS worker or take legal action against the Department of Family Services.
Also Read: 5 Things CPS Looks For In An Investigation
How To Report A Discriminatory CPS Worker
Children die from child abuse at alarming rates, everyday. Even if the report is false, CPS and DFS must investigate every claim that’s made. Ethical social workers do not want to tear apart families, they want to help families and make sure kids are safe. Don’t panic if you are under investigation, and always know your rights as a parent.
Also Read: What CPS Legally Can And Cannot Do
NAWS Code Of Ethics
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has an extensive code of ethics all social workers must follow. If a complaint is filed against a member of the NASW, the individual must go through a full investigation with the NASW. Before you file your complaint against the unethical social worker, you must first understand their code of ethics to ensure your complaint is properly filed.
This is when the help of a lawyer may be useful. Filing on your own is still relatively easy, and can be done online. However, if there is something you do not understand about your report or the reporting process, you should call a lawyer. This ensures that your report has all the necessary information for your case.
Where To File A Report Against An Unethical CPS Worker
The report must be filed on your state’s website. You can find every state’s official reporting page on the NASW website. After you’ve completed your full report, you’ll have to wait for NASW’s response. The NASW will either give you some follow-up questions or inform you by letter if an investigation isn’t necessary. Depending on your state’s policy, you may not get a response if your case is deemed unnecessary. If your case is dismissed, call a lawyer to go over your complaint to find out your legal options.
If your case is accepted for review, the NEC Subcommittee decides if the case should be mediated or adjudicated.
Mediated cases use conflict-resolution with a neutral third party to “discuss and dispute” reported claims. This process will involve you and your CPS worker coming to a mutually agreed upon resolution.
Adjudicated cases will determine whether or not the social worker’s actions were a violation of the NASW code of ethics. After the board determines whether or not the social worker’s actions were a violation of their code of ethics, you will receive the investigation’s report.
Can You Sue Someone For Filing A False Report?
It’s unlikely that you can sue someone for filing a false report, however, it’s still possible for you to do it. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 protects most reporters from legal retaliation. Without these protections, many reporters would be sued, preventing more witnesses from stepping forward. Although this law does help more children by protecting the witnesses, it does open more windows for frivolous claims.
Many states grant legal immunity to reporters as long as the claim was made “in good faith.” This means to the best of the reporter’s knowledge, they believed the claim to be true. Reporters should not attempt to investigate their suspicions and claims on their own, as this could compromise an investigation.
Reporters who do make false claims or claims in “bad faith” can face serious consequences. Legally, frivolous reporters can face both civil and criminal charges for false reports. False CPS reports are considered a low-level misdemeanor, and even felonies in some states. False CPS reporters will receive fines from $100 to $5,000, and even up to 5 years in prison.
Reporters with multiple false reports can face even harsher penalties. However, in order to take legal action against a false reporter, the reporter would have to make a CPS claim they willingly knew was false and untrue.
Also Read: Defamation of Character Lawsuit FAQ
An Overview Of The NASW Code Of Ethics
The NASW code of ethics outlines a social worker’s responsibility to their “clients.” Anyone who has an open investigation with CPS and DFS is considered a “client” to their social worker. Here is a quick outline of the NASW’s code of ethics.
Social workers must ensure their clients have a complete understanding of everything regarding the report and investigation. Clients must understand everything a social worker is asking and telling them.
This policy handles any issues to do with communication. This means your social worker has to accommodate all your needs to communicate effectively. For example, if English is your second language, your CPS worker must provide a translator if you request it. Clients also need to fully understand any forms, requests, and paperwork given to them.
Social workers with the NASW must also regularly educate themselves on all social issues. This includes educating themselves on issues they’re unfamiliar with, and only speaking out on issues they have absolute expertise in.
A large part of a CPS worker’s job is to understand that many cultures and religions have different customs and expectations. Social workers need to understand that no culture or religion is “better” than another. The NASW expects their social workers to educate themselves on other customs, and be aware of the socioeconomic differences.
For instance, many religions fast for periods of time. A false report could be made about a family “starving” their children when the family is actually just practicing a religious custom. Your CPS social worker needs to understand this, and make accommodations for these conflicts.
Conflicts of Interest
Any kind of conflict of interest must be made apparent to both the client and CPS headquarters. Your CPS social worker should only have a strictly professional relationship with your case. If there is a conflict of interest, you and your CPS social worker must decide on an agreed resolution, even if that means re-assigning your case to another social worker.
Privacy and Records
Your CPS social worker needs to respect your right to privacy as well as your children’s. The only time they can intervene is when they need to prevent serious harm to you or your children. Most instances they witness are recorded and reported, but the social worker should only act on something if they deem it as harmful.
Your CPS social worker must also provide reasonable access or an interpretation of your records. If you don’t understand something on your record, your CPS social worker must make sure you do understand what’s on record.
Under no circumstances can anyone involved in your case have any kind of sexual relationship with you or your family. This isn’t just a conflict of interest, this is also considered sexual harassment.
CPS workers must ensure that any kind of physical interaction with a client must have complete understanding and consent. Your social worker can touch you and your kids, however, if the physical contact goes beyond professional boundaries, there is a problem. For example, you might begin to get emotional, so the social worker touches your arm. However, any kind of caressing, coddling, or holding would be inappropriate.
For a full, in-depth understanding of the NASW’s code of ethics, you can find it here on their website. If you’re unsure if something your social worker did was ethical, you can call My Case Helper for free legal advice on your parental rights.
Also Read: What Is A Civil Rights Attorney?
*NEW* Want to know more about your legal rights? Follow us on Facebook to keep up with all our legal blogs!