The scariest moment any parent can experience is when a Child Protective Service caseworker is knocking on the door. Emotions and thoughts can run the spectrum from “what did I do wrong” to “I am going to lose my kid” to even “how dare this state bureaucrat tell me how to raise my child.”
Child Protective Services is an organization located in every county in North Carolina. The agency’s duty is to protect children from suspected child abuse, neglect, and dependency. To fulfill this duty, they are responsible for investigating every report of suspected child abuse or neglect that comes to their offices. Reports can come from various sources including the other parent, family members of the children, a therapist, the child’s school, or the court.
The first thing to remember when someone calls from Child Protective Services is not to panic. The report may be frivolous or not accurate. A parent or others will frequently make reports when there is ongoing custody litigation. The caseworker still has a duty to investigate the report to determine whether the report has merit.
If the report does have merit, it is not automatic that the caseworker will remove a child from your care. Removal of children is usually a last resort after many other steps have been taken to correct the issues. Child Protective Services is supposed to protect children and they can accomplish this in many ways. For example, the caseworker may suggest various services to help your family such as assistance with therapy or counseling, substance abuse, housing, food stamps, or other medical needs.
It is also important to remember that your caseworker is working with both parents. So do not feel that you are the target as the worker is making visits to both homes, talking to collateral sources of both parents, and talking to the children about both parent’s home.
Child Protective Services does have the ability to take you to court by filing a Petition to Remove your child. As mentioned above, this is usually a last resort. To prevent ending up in court with the agency, it is important and helpful that you cooperate with your caseworker. He or she is not out to make things difficult for you, but rather they are involved with your family to help and to protect your child or children.
If you have additional questions and would like to schedule a consultation about your case with one of our attorneys, please call us at 919-576-7550.