Table of Contents

1. Introduction

How to Use This Book

Where Are You In Your CPS Case?

Additional Resources and Information

2. How Do I Help Myself And My Family?

What Can You Do to Advocate For Yourself?

What Can You Do to Advocate For Your Children?

Know Your Rights!

3. How Did I Get Here?

What is Abuse?

What is Neglect?

What Does It Mean That a CPS Report Was Made Against Me?

Who Makes the Report?

What Is CPS Looking For?

How Does CPS Decide If a Child Is “Safe”?

It’s My Child! Why Is the State Allowed to Get Involved?

4. Who Are All The People Working On My Case?

CPS Workers

Case Managers

District Attorney, County Attorney or Regional Attorney

Parent’s Attorney

Attorney Ad Litem (AAL)

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)



Counselor, Therapist, Other Social Workers

5. Confidentiality

Will My Lawyer Share Confidential Information?

Talking To People Other Than My Lawyer?

What If I Also Have an Open Criminal Case?

Your Child Has The Right to Confidentiality, Too!

Stop! Online Information = Public Information

6. The Cps Investigation

What Can CPS Do?

What Can I Do?

The Investigation Process: What Should I Expect?

Examining Your Child

Inspecting Your Home


Record Requests

CPS Investigation Outcomes: What Happens Next?

I Disagree With CPS’ Findings: Can I Ask for a Review?

Can I Get a Copy Of the Investigation File?

7. Removal

The Removal Decision

Parent Notification

Family Notification

Frequently Asked Questions

8. The Court Process And Planning For A Permanent Situation For Your Child


The Adversary Hearing

Permanency Planning Team Meetings

The Status Hearing

Permanency Hearings


Final Hearing (Trial)

Frequently Asked Questions

9. Cps And Family Group Decision Making

Family Team Meeting (FTM)

Family Group Conference (FGC)

Service Plans

I Don’t Like My Service Plan

10. The Parent Attorney

Can I Get a Lawyer to Help Me?

Do I Qualify For a Free Court-Appointed Lawyer?

How Soon Will I Get a Court-Appointed Lawyer?

What Should I Do If the Court is Slow to Appoint A Lawyer?

Do I Need to Tell My Lawyer Everything?

Things My Lawyer Should Be Doing

Are There Things I Should Be Doing to Help My Lawyer?

What if I Don’t Like My Lawyer?

11. Working With Cps And Other Service Providers

Working With CPS

Working With Other Service Providers

Making Complaints

12. Making The Most Of Visitation

What Will Supervised Visitation Be Like?

Why is Visitation So Important?

Before Your Visit

After Your Visit

13. Special Topics

A. Parents With Disabilities or Special Needs

B. Non-Offending Parents

C. Fathers

D. Teenage Parents

E. Parents Who Are Former Foster Youth

F. Incarcerated Parents

G. Parents Who Do Not Speak English As a First Language

H. Parents Who Are Undocumented Immigrants

I. Parents With Native American/Indian Heritage

J. Victims Of Domestic Violence

K. Parents Who Are Not Able to Care For Their Child

L. Parents With a History Of Drug/Alcohol Use

14. Moving Forward

My Child Is Not Coming Home, How Do I Move Forward?

My Child Is Coming Home! What Should I Do Now?

What Can I Do To Keep CPS Out Of My Life?

15. Managing Your Case: Resources & Case Planning


Appendix A: Commonly Used Terms

Appendix B: Common Abbreviations & Acronyms

Appendix C: Child Welfare Statutes

Appendix D: State Resources

Appendix E: Visitation Plan