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LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Experienced Family Law Attorney
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In South Carolina, in the event a social worker comes to my

Customer Question

In South Carolina, in the event a social worker comes to my house for a safety check, Can I excercise my right to avoid a social worker from talking to my 6 year old without the presence of a lawyer?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 months ago.

If there is an active investigation the child may be interviewed without consent:

SECTION 63-7-920. Investigations and case determination.

(A)(1) Within twenty-four hours of the receipt of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect or within twenty-four hours after the department has assumed legal custody of a child pursuant to Section 63-7-660 or 63-7-670 or within twenty-four hours after being notified that a child has been taken into emergency protective custody, the department must begin an appropriate and thorough investigation to determine whether a report of suspected child abuse or neglect is "indicated" or "unfounded".

(2) The finding must be made no later than forty-five days from the receipt of the report. A single extension of no more than fifteen days may be granted by the director of the department, or the director's designee, for good cause shown, pursuant to guidelines adopted by the department.

(3) If the investigation cannot be completed because the department is unable to locate the child or family or for other compelling reasons, the report may be classified as unfounded Category III and the investigation may be reopened at a later date if the child or family is located or the compelling reason for failure to complete the investigation is removed. The department must make a finding within forty-five days after the investigation is reopened.

(B) The department may file with the family court an affidavit and a petition to support issuance of a warrant at any time after receipt of a report. The family court must issue the warrant if the affidavit and petition establish probable cause to believe the child is an abused or neglected child and that the investigation cannot be completed without issuance of the warrant. The warrant may authorize the department to interview the child, to inspect the condition of the child, to inspect the premises where the child may be located or may reside, and to obtain copies of medical, school, or other records concerning the child.

(C) The department or law enforcement, or both, may interview the child alleged to have been abused or neglected and any other child in the household during the investigation. The interviews may be conducted on school premises, at childcare facilities, at the child's home or at other suitable locations and in the discretion of the department or law enforcement, or both, may be conducted outside the presence of the parents. To the extent reasonably possible, the needs and interests of the child must be accommodated in making arrangements for interviews, including time, place, method of obtaining the child's presence, and conduct of the interview. The department or law enforcement, or both, shall provide notification of the interview to the parents as soon as reasonably possible during the investigation if notice will not jeopardize the safety of the child or the course of the investigation. All state, law enforcement, and community agencies providing child welfare intervention into a child's life should coordinate their services to minimize the number of interviews of the child to reduce potential emotional trauma to the child.

Here is the manual which addresses that:

7. The policy and practice standard of the department is that Child Protective Services staff will conduct at least one face to face interview once a calendar month with the victim child, siblings and any other children in the home, and parents, protective adult, and/or other caregiver during the time a case is open for child protective services. The purpose of this visit is to assess for child safety and to assess progress toward meeting treatment goals to reduce future risk of harm. Additional visits should be made as determined on a case by case basis given the issues specific to each family.

The monthly meetings are typically scheduled in advance and part of a voluntary plan- so one can plan on having their attorney available so that the attorney can oversee the interview or make any objections they have to it.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
My number is(###) ###-####
Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 months ago.

I'm sorry; I am not set up right now to handle phone calls. If you would like to continue on this page, I will definitely do my best to get you the needed information. Please let me know if you would like to continue.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
It is Friday evening my lawyer will not be available until Monday morning. A cps representative is trying to interview my 6 year old. Altho I in not hiding anything, they aren't on my side and I'm not sure it's wise without the presence of my lawyer.what do I do?
Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 months ago.

If this is per a voluntary agreement, one can refuse, and request to reschedule for when one's attorney can be present. An interview does involve a "search and seizure" according to Doe et al, v. Heck et al , but typically when CPS is making monthly visits, the parent has already waived their rights (it would depend on what they have signed); one could reassert the rights, and then the social worker would have to either proceed with the interview in the presence of a third party or obtain a court order to interview the child alone.

Per #7 above, it is standard policy to have monthly interviews with the child, but these are typically scheduled in advance; if no advance notice was given one can request to continue it.

Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 months ago.

Additionally if the meeting is part of the safety plan, and the parent agreed to it, often times the social worker will make threats to the family re: being in violation of the safety plan and thus are able to remove the children; however, the children can only be removed if the child is at risk of harm - and this requires either a court order or a police officer.

that statute is here:

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