There is so much involved with the CPS investigation it is difficult to cover in a 30 minute radio spot. The investigation, or lack of, often results in the children being removed from the family and placed in foster care while the family has to wait out an “open police investigation” and then face the months or years long fight to get their children back.
Part of the issue with both investigations is the agencies commitment to believing only the victim at all costs. They refuse to acknowledge that children lie or exaggerate the truth. So what can you or the children expect if CPS and/or the police call you in for questioning?
What kinds of tactics are used or are you aware of when questioning the children?
You have to remember it is not the intent of the investigators or CPS to discover the truth. It is only their objective to get enough information to declare dependency for the removal your children, putting them in foster care. They don’t care about the truth – only their version of the truth that will support their actions.
When questioning the children:
- They will word questions in a manner that there is no correct answer for the child. For instance, they may ask the child “After your mommy smokes marijuana are you afraid of her?”
No matter how the child answers that question it will implicate the parent in some manner. Most children are not able to evaluate that type of question accurately. Young children are usually not mature enough to handle this type of questioning; heck many adults can’t handle it! The child may also be scared, uncomfortable and nervous being questioned in the first place and will simply answer “no”. By answering “no” the child is implying that the mother does smoke marijuana but that the child isn’t afraid of her. CPS will then use that against the parent.
- They will use questionable interrogation techniques.
In our case stuff just didn’t add up, so we had one of the video interviews analyzed by a professional. While the questioning by the investigator started out okay, after a short period of time the investigator was using questionable tactics. He was leading the child instead of asking.
In subsequent interviews with this same child the investigator had to “remind” the child of their previous interviews as well as remind the child of what had been disclosed in these interviews as the child claimed they did not remember. This is not a young child but a 17 year old teen! So based on the investigator’s “reminders” he then proceeded to ask additional questions.
They also had a male in the room alone with the female child asking about sexual abuse. There should always be two adults in the room and one should be the same gender as the child.
- They never ask for details from the child that could be proven false.
Since it is not their intent to discover the truth, they don’t ask for facts that can be confirmed or proven false.
For instance, they never asked the victim in our case how many times the alleged abuse happened. They never asked where the mother was while this abuse was taking place. They never asked what age it started at. They never asked which home(s) it took place in, and didn't always what rooms in the home. They never asked for dates or specific events when the alleged abuse took place.
The only reference the child made to a date when the abuse allegedly started was a date that both parents could confirm and verify where they were – and neither was with this child! But the investigators weren’t interested in this information and when the parent shared this information the investigator made excuses why the child might be mistaken.
- They never question the parents or family to confirm or rebut the information the child gave.
They will ALWAYS assume the child is telling the truth. According to CPS children do not lie. Yet CPS and the AAG will pick and choose which “truths” to believe and bring to court and which “truths” to ignore because they don’t further their case or may undermine their case. The child is “telling the truth” with one statement, but when asked about a contradictory statement they will ignore it.
If the parent offers any information that may prove the child is not telling the truth, the parent is accused of not believing the child and the child will be removed from their custody.
When you are finally able to get the summary interview reports from CPS they will not necessarily reflect the statements made by the children.
Because we were able to watch the video interview and read the summary report, we found they had summarized the information in order to further their agenda. The summary did not reflect what the child actually said. They left out sentences and merged events together to come up with a completely different scenario than what the child reported during the video interview.
This is common.
Your children and the investigation
If they bring your children to Child Help they will question the victims. They will do physical exams on any child they believe is a victim. Yes, this does include an invasive physical exam if they believe sexual abuse has taken place. You will not be permitted to be with your child during this exam.
They will interview the victims and should video record the interviews. These video interviews can be obtained by your attorney.
Children in the family who are not victims but are brought to Child Help because they are going to remove all children may not be questioned until weeks later. The children told us that they were not questioned until much later, and most said it was two weeks later!
This was used against the family in court. This is what happened in our case. They would not permit any of our family contact with any of the children, nor could the children have contact with each other because of “an open police investigation.” When the investigation was not completed by the first court hearing the court had to order CPS investigators/police to complete the investigation.
This is wrong. No children should be moved from the CPS/Child Help offices without being questioned first. They should never be placed in foster care until they have been examined, if necessary, and questioned. If they do not question the children until weeks later any evidence they may need for a criminal case may be gone. Likewise, any abuse to the children in foster care may be alleged against the parents!
What is Child Help?
You need to be aware of what Child Help is and where they are located. Child Help is CPS!
Our daughter was asked to follow the police because her husband would need a ride home after questioning. He was not placed under arrest but went to the police station voluntarily to answer questions. Our daughter didn’t think anything about it. She followed and ended up at Child Help, which she did not realize was CPS until it was too late.
Once you get to Child Help they don’t need to do anything to take your children. They already have custody and they can remove you from the building.
If you are asked to go to Child Help or are tricked into going there CALL YOUR ATTORNEY IMMEDIATELY. This is not likely to end with you leaving with your children.
- Be careful about what you say or disclose to all CPS workers and police officers, even in hallways.
- Do not rattle on about problems or issues the family has or has had – keep your mouth shut!
- Be extremely careful about what you say about YOUR past. What you tell CPS can be used not only against you but against any family member to keep them from getting your children, even temporarily.
- Ask for an attorney before you speak to them – especially if you believe you are innocent.
- Cooperate and be polite.
- Only answer questions that are directly asked of you.
- They may ask you to sign forms – you do not have to sign them. One will be the TEMPORARY CUSTODY NOTICE and the other is the CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES NOTICE OF DUTY TO INFORM. We have both of these forms posted on our website in “Understanding the Issue – Parental Resources.”
- You should also be given the CPS booklet “A Guide to Child Protective Services,” which is also posted on our website.
- CPS is not looking for the truth – they are only looking for information to substantiate their involvement. You are guilty.
- If you want to keep custody of your children you MUST believe the victim! You must also have taken steps to protect the victim from the abuser. This may mean someone in the home must move out (the alleged abuser). You may have to get an order of protection. Unless you had absolutely no knowledge of the abuse, YOU must have taken steps to report the abuse.
If they believe drugs are part of the issue you will be required to get a drug test. If you are nursing an infant and wish to continue to provide breast milk for the infant you will have to get and pass a drug test before any milk will be accepted. The drug testing is not provided at the Child Help facility, so you will be required to get yourself to the testing location in order to participate in the required drug testing.
Once you have finished speaking with CPS, no matter what the outcome, write down what you remember immediately.
You will find that in motions to the court, reports, and even court hearings, what you actually said will be twisted into something you didn’t say or didn’t mean. Document everything!
CPS will make up stuff, so be prepared.
In our case CPS claimed our daughter made a statement about us during her questioning. The statement never made it into any report. We could not obtain the statement because we weren’t a “party to the case”. The attorney asked for the information and was never provided with it. And when we filed our appeal CPS still refused to disclose the information. In fact the interviewer on the appeal was not aware of the statements they claim were made against us. To this date it has never been provided. But that kept us from getting the children at the beginning of the case and it took almost 6 months to complete the appeal process.
We believe they made up the information because they knew we would have been the best placement for the children, and it would have been in the children’s best interest, but they had ulterior motives of severance and adoption from the beginning and didn’t want family to get custody of the children.
If your case involves a possible criminal charge, be prepared.
While I am not advocating for permitting child abusers to go free, we do believe that everyone is entitled to have their constitutional rights protected and their day in court.
If you or anyone is taken to a police station for questioning you must invoke your constitutional rights. Remember:
- CPS believes you are guilty.
- Ask for an attorney – even if you are innocent! Do not believe that innocent people don’t need an attorney. Do not believe that by asking for an attorney you are somehow guilty.
- If you are being charged with a crime you have a right to a court appointed attorney, if you cannot afford an attorney.
- Do not speak to the police or investigators or make any statements until your attorney arrives. They may hold you for hours until your attorney arrives. Wait it out and don’t speak.
- Do not talk to yourself while waiting. They are recording everything and they will use it against you.
CPS is not investigating to find the truth. They are only investigating to get enough information to accuse the parents of wrong-doing so they can claim dependency and put the children in foster care.
They ignore the wishes of the children, even when the children say they feel safe at home and want to be with mom, dad or both.
They have to substantiate their case and CPS will work with the attorney general’s office to make sure they can justify the removal of your children.
What made our family’s case even sadder was that this happened on the 5th birthday of one of the children. He was looking forward to spending his birthday with family. Instead he was taken to Child Help. He begged his mother not to make him go into the playroom; he wanted to stay with her. She assured him it would be okay. That was the last time he would see his mother until 2 ½ months later. He never celebrated his 5th birthday.
Next week we will discuss the initial process for dependency.