One of the most common questions parents involved with CPS have is, “Can Child Protective Services talk to my child at school?” Obviously, every parent’s first instinct is to protect their children, so the mere thought of a complete stranger bothering their child at school with invasive or inappropriate questions is unacceptable.
You should speak with an experienced CPS attorney to help you understand your rights as a parent during a CPS investigation in Texas.
Can Child Protective Services Talk to Your Child at School?
While it may sound absurd, CPS has a right to talk to your child at school or home in private, even without your permission. In fact, CPS investigators prefer to speak with children during their investigations to understand whether or not the kids are at imminent risk of harm.
When Child Protective Services receive a complaint of child abuse or neglect, the agency’s investigators will generally speak with the alleged victim of abuse or neglect.
The investigator may interview the child at any reasonable location and time, including at school.
Who Will Child Protective Services Talk To During the Investigation?
Your child is not the only person the CPS investigator can interview when investigating the complaints of abuse or neglect. In fact, CPS investigators usually interview as many people as possible to find out more about the investigated parents, children, and their unique circumstances.
The CPS investigator assigned to your case may talk to the following people during the investigation:
You, the other parent, and other persons suspected to have been involved in child abuse or neglect;
The people who live with the child who has reportedly been abused or neglected, including other children;
People who witnessed the alleged incident of abuse or neglect, including neighbors;
A medical professional who performed a medical evaluation and/or treated the child’s injuries; and
The people who know you and the child, including teachers, roommates, friends, neighbors, and others.
What Will the CPS Investigator and My Child Talk About?
As a parent under CPS investigation, it is perfectly normal to wonder what the investigator will talk about when interviewing your child at home or school. If the child is allegedly a victim of abuse or neglect, the investigator’s goal will be to find out whether the abuse or neglect occurred and what actually happened.
The CPS investigator will also want to know if the child feels safe around you or the person suspected of abusing or neglecting the child. Generally, CPS investigators ask children the following questions during an interview:
Were you abused or neglected?
Did anyone hurt you?
What happened, and how did it happen?
Do you feel safe now?
Do you think you could be hurt again?
Obviously, these questions are usually asked in a subtle way to make sure that the child is comfortable answering them. In most cases, CPS investigators choose to interview children privately. CPS workers believe that children can be more honest and straightforward when their parents are not around.
The worst thing a parent can do is ask or pressure their child to lie about what happened. Even if you did not actually abuse or neglect your child, you might still want your child to hide certain details. However, asking your child to lie could hurt your case.
Can CPS Talk to My Children Without My Permission?
When Child Protective Services is investigating a complaint or report of child neglect or abuse, the agency does not need your permission to interview your kids.
In other words, CPS can talk to your children without your permission if you are suspected of abusing or neglecting your kids. This may come as a surprise to many, but the agency can lawfully talk to your children alone, even without your consent.
When a CPS investigator comes to your child’s school to interview him or her, the investigator may need your consent to interview your child if you are present at the school during the interview. However, if you are not present at the school when the investigator comes to talk to your child, your consent is not required to conduct the interview.
Should I Talk to the CPS Investigator?
You are not required to talk to the CPS investigator if you do not want to. However, if you refuse to cooperate with CPS, the investigator may take your children from you by arguing that you are hiding something.
If you are not sure what to say to a CPS investigator, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your particular case. Your attorney will help you navigate your CPS case and handle your communications with the investigator.
When talking to the CPS investigator, you have a right to know what you are being accused of. Once you know the allegations made against you, you can answer the investigator’s questions.
If you acknowledge the fact that child abuse or neglect has occurred, the investigator may use your statement to remove your children from your home. If the investigator has reason to believe that the kids should be removed, he or she may offer you to sign a safety plan to place your child with a family friend or relative.
It is imperative that you understand your rights and all available options before talking to the CPS investigator. For this reason, it is highly advised to consult with a CPS lawyer to understand what you can and cannot say during the interview.
Talk to a Harker Heights CPS Lawyer During a Free Consultation
Our attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard help clients in Harker Heights and all across Texas to protect their legal rights and help them withstand CPS investigations. You can schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable and results-driven CPS lawyers by contacting us online or calling 254-501-4040.