Having a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigator show up at your door is one of the most stressful and confusing experiences in the life of any parent. Many parents do not know what to expect during a CPS home visit, including whether the investigator can take pictures.
If the CPS investigator came to your house unexpectedly, you might not be fully aware of your rights. For this reason, it is highly advised to contact a Copperas Cove Child Protective Services lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected during the CPS investigation.
Can a CPS Investigator Enter Your Home?
Child Protective Services is not required to warn of a home visit or give you notice before their investigator shows up at your door. In fact, CPS workers usually show up when you least expect it.
When a CPS investigator knocks on your door, he/she must identify themselves and ask your permission to enter your home. The investigator cannot enter your home for an inspection if you do not consent.
CPS investigators have no authority to enter your home even if they arrive with a law enforcement officer. It is not uncommon for CPS workers to come with police officers when they have reason to believe that their safety could be at risk.
Note: The police can enter your home with your consent if they have a warrant.
However, any person living in the house can give their permission to let the CPS investigator enter your home. Even your child can consent if he or she is deemed mature enough to give permission.
Even if you consent to CPS entering your home, you can withdraw the consent at any time during the home visit. You can simply state that you want the investigator to leave your home, and they must comply with the request.
Should I Give a CPS Investigator Permission to Enter My Home?
Many parents who are being investigated by Child Protective Services do not understand whether they should allow the investigator to enter their home or not.
In order to decide whether you should consent to CPS home inspection, let’s discuss the possible consequences of giving permission and not giving permission:
- Consent. If you give your permission, the CPS investigator will take it as your willingness to cooperate. If your home is safe and you have nothing to hide, consenting to a home inspection could help you put an end to the investigation as soon as possible. However, if the investigator finds significant safety threats in your house, they may use it as grounds to take your child from you.
- No consent. If you refuse to give your permission, the CPS investigator may view this as evidence that you have something to hide. In fact, even if CPS does not have your consent, the agency may eventually obtain a court order to enter your home. However, if the CPS investigator reasonably believes that your child is in imminent danger, they may enter without your consent to remove your child from your home.
Before deciding whether you should or shouldn’t give a CPS worker your permission to enter the home, look around your house to determine if anything could be considered a safety threat during a home inspection.
Read more about your rights in this article: What Are My Rights During a Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigation?
Do All CPS Investigators Take Pictures During a Home Visit?
No, photographs are not required during CPS investigations. However, a CPS investigator may take pictures when gathering evidence of child abuse or neglect.
When taking photos during the investigation, the CPS worker must only use the agency-issued device to take pictures. The investigator cannot use their personal electronic device to take photos during an investigation to ensure everyone’s confidentiality.
Can a CPS Investigator Take Photos During a Home Visit?
Whether or not a CPS investigator can take pictures during a home visit depends on two questions:
- Does the investigator have your consent to take the photos?
- What is being photographed?
Can the Investigator Take Pictures in Your Home?
If you let a CPS investigator enter your home, they might want to take photographs during the home inspection. Most often, CPS workers take pictures of safety hazards and dangerous conditions in the home, including but not limited to:
- Choking, strangulation, and poisoning hazards;
- Drugs and weapons in plain view
- Piles of garbage
- Broken glass
- Rotten food
- Unsanitary conditions
If the investigator sees any of these problems, they might take pictures of the conditions so that they can be used as evidence during the investigation. (What Does Child Protective Services (CPS) Look for When Inspecting a Home)
The investigator can take pictures in your homes if they have your permission to do so. They must get your consent before photographing anything in your home if you are present at home at the time of the home visit. However, if your child is mature enough to give a CPS investigator permission to enter the home, they may take pictures without your consent.
Note: According to the CPS’s guide, the agency allows its workers to use “clinical judgment” to determine whether they actually need the photographs in the absence of consent.
Can the Investigator Take Pictures of Your Child?
If you give a CPS investigator your permission to speak with your child, they may take pictures of:
- Bodily injuries
- Signs of sickness
- Signs of neglect
If the CPS investigator comes to your child’s school when you are not present there, they may take to your child without your consent and can take photos without your permission.
The investigator must be the same gender as the child to take photos of your child’s body parts.
Consult with a CPS Lawyer
If you are being investigated by Child Protective Services, consider speaking with a knowledgeable lawyer to protect your rights and fight for your best interest.
You need to understand what CPS can and cannot do during a home visit, including taking pictures of your house and child. Schedule a free consultation with our Copperas Cove CPS lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard. Call 254-501-4040 to get a case review.