Child Protective Services (hereinafter referred to as “CPS”) and the Administration for Children’s Services (hereinafter referred to as “ACS”) are social service agencies which have one extreme power. This is the power to have children removed from their parents’ homes. The intent of this power is to avoid children from being exposed to future child abuse or child neglect. The intent of this power is not to punish parents and their children. In this writer’s experience this power unfortunately punishes both the parents and their children! Children have two parents. Sometimes the parents live together in the household and sometimes they live in separate households. Even if the non-offending parent lives in a separate household than the alleged offending parent, CPS and ACS will often bring child abuse and child neglect allegations against the non-offending parent too.
When Abuse or Neglect is Suspected Action Needs To Be Taken by CPS and/or ACS
When a CPS or ACS worker reaches the decision the allegations made against the parents may be true, he or she must decide how to best protect the children from future abuse. The issue then becomes if one parent is the individual who caused the child abuse or child neglect, can the children be maintained by the other parent. In these cases, CPS and ACS then investigates the non-offending parent. They investigate as to whether the non-offending parent should have known about circumstances and events which may involve child abuse or child neglect. CPS and ACS will virtually always take the position that in the event there is domestic violence in the household, both parents are exposing the children to child abuse. In these cases the victim of the domestic abuse is also guilty of exposing the children to a dangerous situation. This makes the victim of domestic abuse doubly abused. Once abused by the perpetrator of the abuse and secondly abused by CPS or ACS.
Keeping Families Together
There are other options that CPS and ACS can take instead of removing children from a family’s home. CPS and ACS are required to preserve the family situation and the children’s safety. They must make reasonable efforts to establish a service plan the family can follow so the children can be maintained in their home. However, it should be noted even if CPS and ACS established a service plan for the family, they are still acting in an adversarial relationship to the parents. The service plan actually means that if you don’t do what they are telling you to do pursuant to this program we are going to take your children away from you. Instead of providing families with help it terrifies victims of domestic violence that they will lose their children. CPS service plans can also be hostile and punitive instead of educational and helpful.
Cooperating With Service Plans
When CPS or ACS establishes a family service plan, family members should use their best efforts to participate and cooperate with these plans. If the plans become overly burdensome you should notify the CPS or ACS worker in writing about the burdensome nature of the plans and discuss with them alternative plans. Simply not complying with the service plan is usually a mistake. The failure to comply with service plans will usually cause CPS or ACS to bring proceedings for the removal of the children from the family’s home.