Often, our office receives phone calls from parents after coming home to find a business card left by an investigator with Child Protective Services on their door.
In Tennessee, the Department of Children’s Services has an obligation to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. The job of a case worker with the Child Protective Services division of DCS is to ensure that children are safe. However, it is important for a parent to realize an investigation by CPS may lead to serious consequences, including CPS removing children from their parents and possible criminal charges.
You should not ignore CPS. If you fail to respond to CPS or refuse to cooperate, then the CPS case worker may request law enforcement be called in to assist or ask for a court order allowing the investigation to proceed.
Yes, you need an attorney. Before you answer questions, you need to consult with an attorney so that you understand and can protect your rights. Even if DCS does not remove your child from your home, their investigative findings can impact you dramatically. Some licensed professionals, such as teachers, therapists and doctors, may lose their careers over an alleged incident.
Remember, if CPS wants to talk to you, don’t panic. You should find a lawyer who is experienced representing people accused of child abuse or neglect.