What are the stages of a Child Protective Services Investigation?

If you are facing an investigation from Child Protective Services (CPS) through the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) you may not know where to turn.  From being accused of wrongdoing to having to initiate an investigation against someone who abused one of your children, the process can seem overwhelming.  You may feel lost and may not know what to expect as the investigation progresses.

The entire process can take up to 30 days (if not longer) from the start of the investigation, so do not feel overwhelmed if it feels like the process is taking longer than expected.  An inquiry may be prompted because of a wide range of allegations.  These include physical or sexual abuse, medical neglect, child endangerment, improper supervision of a child or the death of a child.  In some cases, the parent may be investigated while other investigations may include someone else in the child’s life.


Filing of a Complaint with MDHHS

Anyone is able to contact the MDHHS to file a complaint of alleged abuse or neglect to be investigated by CPS. Under the Child Protection Law, some professionals are required to report any suspected abuse or neglect.

The person filing the complaint is not required to provide his or her personal information.  In all cases, the individual who filed the complaint is not disclosed to the person being investigated.  The only exception to this rule is if a judge rules for CPS to disclose the source of the complaint.  You will need legal representation to help you find out this information.

After the complaint is filed a CPS investigation must begin within 24 hours.  The process is started right away to protect a child from any potential harm.

Once the investigation is completed, anyone found to have filed a false complaint will be prosecuted.  It is against the law to file a false complaint with CPS.


Interviews and Review

One of the first steps of the investigation will be to review the family’s home.  Part of the process will include face-to-face interviews with the alleged victim(s) along with his or her caregivers and the accused perpetrator.  If there is more than one child in the home, each child will be interviewed even if he or she was not one of the alleged victims.  CPS will also look to see if any of the other siblings were involved with the alleged abuse.

It is possible your children may be interviewed without your knowledge.  During an investigation, officials are legally able to interview children at school.  Even though you may not be notified in advance, CPS will have to tell you after the interview is completed.

Besides interviewing those with a direct connection to the complaint, other individuals in the child’s life will also be contacted.  Interviews will be conducted with relatives, friends and neighbors along with any other individuals who have regular contact with the family.


Assessment of Child & Family

A major part of the investigation will be the assessment of the child (or children).  The investigators will examine the child’s safety and will look for any risk the child may be in for future abuse or neglect.  Besides assessing the child directly, CPS will look for ways to help the family as a whole while they are facing the investigation.  Support services will be provided to help the family handle the situation along with helping them protect against future abuse.


Categorization of Case

Once the investigation is complete, CPS will classify the case according to five different categories.  Category I and II are the most serious and result in having the person who engaged in the abuse to be listed on the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.

  • Category V: cases where no evidence of child abuse or neglect is found, the family cannot be located or the court does not require the family to cooperate with a future investigation.
  • Category IV: cases where evidence of abuse or neglect is not found.
  • Category III: cases where the evidence of abuse or neglect is present, but the assessment shows low or moderate risk to the child.
  • Category II: cases where there is overwhelming evidence of abuse or neglect and the risk is considered high or intensive.
  • Category I: cases where there is overwhelming evidence of abuse or neglect and a court order or petition is required to protect the child’s safety.


Court Proceedings

If the investigation prompts any criminal charges you will need to hire an experienced attorney to represent you during the court proceedings.   Before your hearing is held, CPS can seek a court order to remove children from the home if they are concerned about their safety.

If you are facing a child protective services investigation or if your family is involved in an investigation, then you need knowledgeable legal counsel to help you throughout the process.

Our legal team will help you understand the entire process and will be by your side throughout the investigation.

Call Basiga Law Firm in Okemos today at 517-708-7830.  Our attorneys are ready to guide you throughout the entire investigation.

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