Brandon M. : Hello there.
Customer: Hi can you help
Brandon M. : Hi, thank you for your question.
Brandon M. : I will try my best. How old are your kids?
Brandon M. : Thank you. You said that you spoke with CPS today. How did that go?
Customer: Seemed ok, but as I replayed conversation in my head she said she would be sending a letter opening the
Customer: Investigation phase
Customer: She asked us to sign hippa releases for all of our docs
Brandon M. : Thank you. You said that you school reported you for educational neglect. What is the basis of that accusation, if you know?
Customer: All we got is that my son has had two crying episodes in class and said work is too hard. He has a diagnoised anxiety
Brandon M. : I understand. I actually have a son with autism, and he suffers from anxiety attacks. There is a lot of comorbidity between autism and other neurological disorders, including anxiety disorder.
Customer: Is this a power play by district to shut down our advocacy? We have taken them to task through OCR and NYSED
Brandon M. : Well, I can only speculate, but it's probably not a power play. More likely, if you've rubbed these folks the wrong way, they're perceiving you through a filter, and that filter is tainting their ability to accurately assess how you are raising your kids. That said, let's discuss how to deal with CPS...
Customer: the cps thing is making us distraught
Brandon M. : I will start by saying that because the nuances of every case are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. That said, the general rule is that one should never cooperate with a CPS investigation. Any statement made to a social worker/CPS investigator can be misconstrued. They can't take any legal action unless they can prove abuse or neglect, and that usually can't be done without the parent's "cooperation". Further, under the rules of evidence, any statement against interest can be used against you in court while any statement made about yourself in your favor can't, so you're basically doing nothing but giving them ammunition to use against you in the event that the matter goes to court.
Brandon M. : The problem parents experience is that their statements are oftentimes misheard or misunderstood, so the social worker will claim that things are said that weren't... they are a mix of truths and untruths. You are left defending yourself against things that you allegedly said, but didn't, or had a different meaning than the context it is presented to the court.
Brandon M. : Social workers know that they make mistakes, which is why they never allow you to audio record your interview. If you want to see them get upset, just ask if you can audiotape the conversation--something that would be totally reasonable.
Brandon M. : Around 90% of the time, allegations of neglect or abuse are deemed "unfounded", and almost everyone cooperates, so don't start sweating yet.
Brandon M. : But allowing oneself to be interview just creates a risk that is unnecessary. If CPS decides that the allegations are unfounded, the statements made have no effect, but you're basically helping CPS build a case against you in the event that they decide that there's something there.
Brandon M. : Ideally, anyone being investigated would not make any statements to CPS; instead, they would retain an attorney and make all communications through the attorney. That way, the statements made could not be used against you and you could still communicate freely with them through someone who knows how to protect you.
Brandon M. : The second best option is ordinarily to just politely decline to participate any further.
Customer: Should we decline signing the forms for releases?
Customer: I was thinking that we should just submit letters with diagnosis from doctor.
Brandon M. : Well, you have to ask what benefit you would receive from your cooperation. CPS is not the decision maker; if they perceive that there is abuse or neglect and think that they can prove it, they take their case to the courts, and the courts decide whether there is abuse or neglect. So CPS is not in control. However, I'm mostly worried that they'll try to start bullying you. Medical records are more objective than interview statements, so there is generally less risk, but (again) CPS carries the burden of proof if they want to take action, so why help them?
Customer: Got it, we will seek counsel and inform them of that. My husband and I both work in schools and the worker
Customer: Suggested how we could be terminated.
Customer: Is that the bullying ?
Brandon M. : I would call that bullying. That said, individuals who work in certain fields of employment can be affected greater by the outcome of a CPS investigation. If CPS finds an allegation is founded, that could result in termination for someone who works with kids even if the court ultimately finds in favor of the parents. So I hate to say it, but you really can't afford to not have an attorney working with you on this matter. As I mentioned, an attorney can make all necessary communications to CPS without any chance of a statement coming back to haunt the parent.
Brandon M. : So even if there is no legal consequence, there can be career consequences for certain professions. That needs to be taken seriously.
Customer: We will seek counsel tomorrow. Thanks!
Brandon M. : Certainly. Did you have any other question?