What is the best way to handle a CPS visit?

A visit from child protective services is not only inconvenient, it can be worrisome for Illinois residents. When a social worker knocks at your door, it usually means someone had reason to believe your children were not being properly cared for and called CPS. Whether the call came from a concerned neighbor or a bitter ex, you have a legitimate worry while you figure out how to deal with the unexpected visit.

As you may know, the purpose of child protective services is to investigate when a child is suspected of being neglected or abused, and to intervene if CPS workers determine that the claims were valid. FindLaw explains that your children may be placed with relatives or a foster family if the CPS worker believes they are at risk in your home. You will be required to cooperate with the agency to get your children back.

However, what do you do when you first get that dreaded knock at your door? When the person on your porch identifies himself or herself as a social worker with CPS, you do not initially have to let him or her inside, despite what you are told. You can ask to see a warrant or for an appointment to be scheduled. The social worker will likely return soon with law enforcement or a warrant, requiring you to submit to an investigation then.

During the investigation, it would be wise to be civil, but not to volunteer too much information. The social worker will look for signs of abuse or neglect in your home, such as unlivable conditions or dangerous items or substances being left in the children’s reach. Chances are that the case will be closed after the investigation; if not, you will be given the opportunity to work with CPS to resolve the issue. This information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.