Child Protection Services In Kentucky: An Exploration of Rights & Helpful Tips
Preliminary Thoughts & Article Organization
While this article is in no way meant to be legal advice for parents, it is intended to aid parents who are currently involved in a Child Protection Services (CPS) investigation. This article may also be helpful to individuals who are involved in an ongoing CPS case (this is when the case stays open more long-term). Knowing one's legal rights and taking sensible steps toward protecting those rights is one of the most important things that can be done when CPS arrives to investigate "allegations of neglect or abuse". Being familiar with laws governing CPS may not only be helpful to you personally but may also benefit your children during the investigation process.
Information provided in this article will include where to locate information about CPS and related laws. The Kentucky Revised Statues (KRS) are the source for CPS policies and procedures.Additionally, some of the lingo that may be used by a CPS worker in person or via written communication, and some simple tips may be found in the following sections.
In every case, I recommend obtaining an attorney. While many workers may have good intentions, having a legal counsel who is intimately familiar with CPS policies, and related laws can be an asset.
Knowledge is Important in Assuring Justice
Things to Keep in Mind when CPS Shows Up
- Become familiar with your rights before you are ever faced with this problem.
- Understand that investigative workers have no legal right to enter your home. If they are refused entry, they must request assistance from law enforcement. Legally, law enforcement officers must have a search warrant to enter the home as well. Unfortunately, this may result in being labeled as uncooperative.
- Understand that an investigative worker may interview your child/children at school and obtain school records without parental notification. A child CAN request the presence of another person when asked to answer questions. However, the investigative worker may decline allowing another adult to attend.
- Get an attorney at the beginning if you can afford one no matter how simple you believe the case to be.
- Always have a witness when an investigative worker enters your home and at minimum audio tape the worker for your protection. This advice applies to all meeting related to your case including those where law enforcement are involved. In Kentucky, this is legal with the consent of one party (you).
- If CPS is called to your home because of a domestic disturbance and children are present, an automatic report that children live in the home/witnessed the event is sent to CPS. This may prompt an investigation.
- Remember that each person has his or her life perspective. This unique perspective difference may affect the outcome of an investigation.
Know Your Rights--Keep Family Together
Child Protection & Kentucky Law
While laws may seem specific to most, they tend to leave some room for interpretation. There are two major components which dictate how investigative cases and ongoing cases are handled: Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). While KRS is public and available to all, many SOP manuals are not public domain which may be a barrier to understanding the intricacies of operational procedures.
Child Protection Services Lingo
The following are some of the terms that may be used during the process of being investigated by Child Protection Services (CPS). These basic terms are fairly consistent across all states. These are basic terms with simple definitions rather than the legal definition. Some important KRS definitions may be found at the following link: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/statutes/statute.aspx?id=20184.
- CPS-Child Protection Services; investigate allegations of neglect/abuse among other things.
- DCBS-Department for Community Based Services; this refers to the agency where CPS is housed.
- Safety Plan-A plan, usually provided by the worker with certain action and/or behaviors that must be done for the protection of the child/children.
- Case Plan-A more long-term plan used if the case is officially opened, similar to the safety plan. This should involve other agencies whenever possible such as a therapist involved or school official, etc.
- Aftercare Plan-A plan much like the prior two mentioned that is given when a case is not open due to finding evidence of abuse or neglect, but other problems may be present. This typically happens when the case is not opened.
- Abuse-This is typically physical abuse where marks are left, or there is evidence of the abuse and can include sexual abuse. Please refer to the law definitions for more specifics.
- Neglect-This can be interpreted as the child missing too much school (truancy), not being provided enough food, proper housing, not being kept clean and so on. Neglect can also refer to environmental neglect (example-your home is very dirty). Please refer to the law definitions for more specifics.
- Substantiated-This means that the investigator found enough evidence to support the allegation of abuse or neglect. By law, you will be notified by mail. If a case is "substantiated", it will prompt the case to be sent to an ongoing worker (more long-term for monitoring).
- Unsubstantiated-This means that the investigator did not find enough evidence to support the allegations of abuse or neglect. By law, you will be notified by mail.
- Allegation-The original report to CPS about abuse/neglect of your child/children. This is what CPS was told was going on (example-drug use, child is dirty, medical neglect). Anyone can call CPS anonymously.
- FINSA- This is a reference made to "family in need of services". If a case is "unsubstantiated" a worker may offer "services". This basically results in opening the case for monitoring purposes.
Law, SOP, and Other Information
The following are links that contain information about law, policy and procedures, and others that may be helpful. These are meant to provide a starting point for research in this area.
Kentucky's Department of Protection & Permanency-This link provides reporting and other information about the department. This is an official site of Kentucky.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Chapter 2-This is a link to the online manual where the operating procedures can be viewed. This specific chapter deals with intake and investigation. It takes time to sift through, but can be a valuable resource. The main page can be accessed easily from this page. Although this article talks about SOP as it relates to KRS laws, this SOP also must adhere to other laws as well.
Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS), Chapter 620-This section of KRS is specific to protective services laws in Kentucky. It covers a variety of subjects including investigations.
Blog-This blog contains detailed information on steps that may occur from the time a case is reported until it is closed. The blog has some opinions in it, but the factual information appears to be accurate.
Child Abuse & Neglect Booklet-This booklet contains a wide variety of information on rights, reporting, and procedures.