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What should I do if Child Protective Services knocks?

Almost nothing can be more insulting, embarrassing and infuriating than being accused of being an unfit parent. It can also be frightening for Wisconsin parents when CPS demands to inspect the home. If CPS knocks on your door, you might worry that your children could be taken away, regardless of how clean and well-maintained your home is. You might also wonder about your legal rights.

These fears are not necessarily unfounded, as FindLaw explains. A social worker from CPS has the ability to remove children from the home and disrupt your family if he or she has cause, real or imagined, to believe the children’s well-being is threatened. So, what should you do when you get an unexpected visit from Child Protective Services? The following tips may help:

  • Remain calm and ask to see the CPS worker’s identification.
  • Inform the social worker that you need to see a warrant before you will admit him or her into your home.
  • During the inspection, remain civil but do not be overly friendly or offer more information than what the social worker asks.

It is likely the social worker will return with law enforcement the first time you demand to see a warrant. If there isn’t a warrant, you don’t have to let them intimidate you into letting them inside, although you may decide to deescalate the conflict and cooperate at this point. It is in your best interests to cooperate with the agency and law enforcement if your children are removed from the home and placed with relatives or in foster care. In most cases, CPS works with families to develop a safe, healthy living environment and keep children within the family.

A CPS visit can be a stressful time. You may wish to seek experienced counsel; therefore, this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.

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