Legally Kidnapped

Shattering Your Child Welfare Delusions Since 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

When A Child Protective Worker Shows Up At Your Door - Keep Your Mouth Shut!

Many states have made it a requirement to promptly investigate any and all reports of child abuse or neglect. The states have set up hotlines where neighbors can call to make anonymous reports. This results in thousands of reports every year. However, most reports of child abuse and neglect are found to be unsubstantiated. Therefore thousands of innocent parents are put through a Child Protective investigation without just cause under the social belief that “Protecting the child is more important then protecting the integrity and privacy and Constitutional Rights of the family.”

When a Social Worker shows up at the door, the parent is usually coerced into giving up their constitutional rights, especially in regards to the 4th and 14th amendments. The worker will talk their way into the home and begin snooping around, looking for and making note of any imperfection in the condition of the family or the home. Often times they will show up at the child’s daycare or school, the parent will then get a phone call from a social worker asking for permission to speak with the child regarding a report that they received. If the parent refuses, the worker is trained in ways to handle such rejections. Often they will say, “If you cooperate, it will look better for you in court… If it goes that far.” However, if there is no reason for it to go that far then it could be in the best interest of the family or the child to refuse to submit to the investigation.

When a parent submits to an investigation, they are then put through the ringer. They will be asked to sign releases of information so that the social worker may speak with the child’s teachers, doctors or any other professional service provider. These service providers will then be asked probing questions. They put the parents through a line of questioning and may even request that the parents submit to a drug screening. What’s your home life like? How do you discipline your children? They will open refrigerators and closed doors. They will look in closets.

All of this is done with the parents consent.

It is also a fact that corruption in the system runs deep and could easily be proved if not for the confidentiality laws which are in place to protect the privacy of the families and children who are brought to their attention. These laws also protect the agencies in charge of Child Protection from lawsuits for violating constitutional rights. Children who are interviewed by workers are easily manipulated to give the answers that the worker will be seeking. The parent does have the right to have a lawyer present during the questioning of the child but the worker will want to speak with the child alone, claiming that they are trained to do so.

The one thing that a Child Protective worker will not do is honestly explain your legal rights in this situation. They come to your door with an agenda and protecting the rights or integrity of the family is not one of them. What most parents don’t understand is that the same rights apply in a child protective investigation as in any criminal investigation. And it is the responsibility of the parent to protect their own rights. In other words, they need a parent’s permission to enter the home or speak with the child. If permission is not granted, then they must obtain a court order. In order to be granted a court order there must be probable cause. An anonymous report is not enough to be considered probable cause, however a report from a mandated reporter such as a professional service provider is. The reason is that a mandated reporter can be brought into court as a witness. An anonymous report typically can’t be followed up on.

A child protective worker will also not read you your Miranda Rights. In fact many parents both willingly and unknowingly give up these rights. This is done in an effort to appear cooperative. However anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. I asked a friend of mine, who is an attorney; “If you could give one great piece of advice to any parent when a Child Protective Worker shows up at the door, what would it be.”

She replied, “Keep your mouth shut.” She then went on to say that most children who are removed and put into the foster care system or most cases that are opened are due to what was said during the initial interview, not what was said in an anonymous report.

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