Child Protective Services (hereinafter referred to as “CPS”) and the Administration for Children’s Services (hereinafter referred to as “ACS”) are charged with protecting the rights of children who are unable to protect themselves. To a large extent, they do a good job. However, these agents of ACS and CPS have been known to harass families, remove children from homes, and intimidate families over false claims of child abuse and child neglect. When ACS or CPS receives an allegation of child abuse or child neglect they presume the allegation is true. Even if there is no supporting documentation or evidence to back this claim.
Mandatory Obligated Reporters of Child Abuse and Child Neglect
There are numerous individuals who have a legal obligation to report any potential issues involving child abuse and child neglect to CPS and/or ACS. This group of mandatory reporters include doctors, nurses, school counselors, teachers, police officers and psychologists. Sometimes, these mandatory reporters misinterpret an innocent situation and surmise some type of child abuse and child neglect is present. It may be simply that some young boys were wrestling, or fooling around and one boy ended up with a black and blue mark. Small bumps or bruising from normal recreational activities children are involved in can trigger a complaint from a mandatory reporter of child abuse or child neglect. The filing of false, non-documented allegations of child abuse has become especially common in recent years by teachers, school social workers and psychologists.
Many of the mandatory reporters feel they have to report even the most minuscule, insignificant situations as potential child abuse.
Cross Reporting of Allegations of Child Abuse or Child Neglect
If the police are called with regard to an investigation concerning either child abuse or child neglect and they come to a conclusion there was no child abuse and no child neglect, they are still legally obligated as mandatory reporters to report you to CPS or ACS. This means after the police have conducted their investigation a CPS or ACS worker will come to your house and they will start an investigation all over again which will not take into consideration the fact the police investigation has resulted in a determination there was no child abuse or child neglect. This is called “mandated cross reporting.”
Elliot S. Schlissel is an attorney with more than 45 years of experience representing parents when dealing with allegations of child abuse and child neglect by ACS, CPS, and police investigations.