Visited by the Department of Child Safety?
Receiving an unexpected house call from the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), or what you may think of as CPS, can be a harrowing experience for any parent. It’s essential to be informed about your rights when it comes to handling such a situation.
Can DCS Enter My Home Without My Consent?
Ask the caseworker if they have a court order or warrant to enter your home and have them show it to you. You have the right to refuse DCS entry, something often recommended by attorneys in situations where the caseworker does not have a court order. Be aware that caseworkers may proceed with their investigation anyway if they believe the child is at risk.
A court order is required for DCS to remove a child from their home, except in particularly urgent cases.
You have the right not to cooperate with Department of Child Safety investigators, also often recommended by attorneys. You can ask the caseworker for their business card and let them know that your attorney will reach out to them later. Likewise, you can tell them that you will not cooperate with them without an attorney present.
Can DCS Talk to My Child Without My Permission?
DCS caseworkers are allowed by state law to interview your child without permission. They can also interview siblings at neutral locations.
What Should I Document and How Should I Act?
Social workers are required to record conversations with minors, so you can consider making your own recordings as well. While it is important to be polite, do not volunteer additional information. Everything you say or do can be used against you in the DCS investigation.
Will My Child Be Removed From My Home? What Will Happen?
As noted above, DCS cannot remove a child from their home without a court order. If the investigators don’t see an immediate threat, they will leave the child at home if a responsible adult is present.
DCS also reserves the right to file a dependency petition with the Juvenile Court, which could result in the child moving to foster care. To learn about juvenile dependency, click here.
If DCS intends to remove your child from your home, they must inform you of your rights, including:
- The right to know the specific allegations against you.
- The right for you to appeal their decision.
- The understanding that you cannot be made to cooperate with or accept the offered social services.
- The providing of a temporary custody notice.
If a child is removed from the home, DCS will first look to place them with a relative. Otherwise, the child may be moved to a foster home or a DCS office. Parents will not necessarily be informed of the location. Unless DCS files a petition for dependency, the children will be returned home within 72 hours.
Cases involving the Arizona Department of Child Safety are not to be taken lightly, as they can result in dire consequences. Getting an attorney involved as quickly as possible is crucial to working to keep your family together. Your attorney will be able to scrutinize DCS’s actions and other investigative evidence, making sure that your due process rights are protected while advocating to keep your family together.
Rideout Law Group handles cases throughout the entire state of Arizona, with offices located in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City. Our attorneys are experienced in handling cases where DCS is involved. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.