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Why does Child Protective Services get involved in family issues?

Maybe you’re just cleaning up from dinner when there’s a knock on the door. Perhaps you come home from a long day at work to find a business card and a note waiting for you. Learning that Child Protective Services (CPS) is looking into your family is a frightening experience.

Many people immediately feel defensive and scared when Child Protective Services shows up at their home, especially if there are allegations of child abuse. Why does CPS show up at people’s houses, and what can you do if you find out they want to talk to you and your kids?

CPS exists for a reason

Although many cases investigated by CPS don’t actually involve serious abuse, there are children in unsafe households whose only potential help comes from the state intervening in their situation. CPS exists to help determine when abuse occurs, to intervene to protect children, to provide families with resources and to follow up on concerns from professionals.

Issues ranging from your child making up stories at school to sports injuries might lead teachers or other professionals who interact with your children to worry about the potential for abuse and contact state authorities.

Anyone who reports an issue for CPS likely does so because they care about your child, which is a good thing. They may have misunderstood what caused a bruise or otherwise misinterpreted the situation, making them think that your child is at risk.

What happens if CPS takes action against you?

Not all CPS cases are the result of innocent mistakes. In families where one spouse wants to get the other in trouble or where a child has a history of lying, it’s possible that CPS may take action based on the claims of an adult or child that aren’t actually true.

If you find yourself wrongfully accused of child abuse, the good news is that you have many options available. You can defend yourself in court against those criminal charges. You can also work with an attorney to handle the CPS situation and regain custody of your children if they temporarily remove your kids from your care. Talking about your situation with a lawyer will give you an idea of what steps to take next.

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