WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Why is CPS contacting me?
When someone reports child abuse or neglect, CPS must investigate. If there is an immediate danger of harm to the child, CPS must start an investigation within 24 hours of getting the report. If there is no immediate danger of harm, CPS has up to 90 days.
What is abuse?
Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or any treatment that puts a child’s health, safety or welfare in jeopardy.
I’ve been told I have to go to court, why?
The state can step in to protect a child from harm within the family in a court procedure called a "dependency action." The state may petition the child is "dependent." A child may be dependent for one or more of the following reasons:
1. has been abandoned by his/her parent/guardian/other custodian
2. has been abused or neglected by the person legally responsible for the child's care
3. has no parent/guardian/custodian able to take good care of the child, so there is a danger of serious damage to the child's psychological/physical development
Do I need a lawyer?
If you are being contacted by CPS due to a dependency being filed or your children have been removed from your care, you should contact a lawyer immediately. If you are suspected of committing a crime in connection with any allegations by CPS, you should contact a lawyer immediately. Do not make any statements about the allegations without speaking to a lawyer first. There are many steps in a dependency case, many of which involve court appearances. While the primary goal of all parties is to reunify families when safe to do so, it can be a difficult road to navigate on your own.
An attorney is able to:
assist in communication with the state
explain what happens at each court appearance and meeting
advocate for your rights and wishes
work to reunite you with your child(ren)
What will I have to do to get my children returned to me?
The court will likely order services to help fix any parental issues that led to the initial involvement with CPS. DSHS provides some services directly, free. If they refer you to another agency, you may have to pay a fee. Your CPS worker may be able to help you find housing, clothing, financial assistance, medical care, childcare, job services, parenting classes, family planning services, transportation services, mental health services, drug/alcohol abuse programs, and/or domestic violence or sexual assault programs.