Discovering that you and your family are the subjects of a Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) investigation can be one of the most frightening and upsetting things a parent or caretaker can encounter. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this process alone. Hiring an attorney who specializes in child abuse defense can help you understand the DSHS investigation and administration process, know your rights, and fight for your ability to keep your family together.
How does a DSHS investigation work?
In Washington, DSHS is the umbrella governmental organization under which Child Protective Services (CPS) operates. CPS receives reports of child abuse, determines whether these reports merit an investigation, then conducts investigations where appropriate.
If CPS concludes that abuse or neglect of a child occurred in a particular case, it can direct families to services designed to prevent recurrence. CPS will often offer these services even when its investigation does not confirm the allegations of child abuse or neglect.
Services CPS can provide:
- Home support specialist services
- Day care
- Financial and employment assistance
- Parent aides
- Mental health services, such as counseling, for parents, children, and families
- Psychological and psychiatric services
- Parenting and child management classes
- Self-help groups
- Family preservation services
Where CPS determines there is a danger to a child’s health, safety, or welfare, law enforcement can take the child into protective custody.
What starts a CPS investigation?
CPS receives reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. Reports that the agency determines to be likely to meet the legal definition of abuse or neglect trigger investigations. Sometimes, however, CPS can determine a report does not actually merit an investigation.
Just because you are involved with a CPS investigation, however, does not mean that you give up your parental rights or responsibilities to your kids. One of these rights is to be represented by an attorney. An attorney can help you protect your other parental rights and understand the legal process.
In a CPS investigation or resulting proceeding, you have the right to:
- Advanced notice of all court hearings
- Challenge allegations of abuse or neglect made against you
- Attend, participate, and be heard in all court hearings
- A final decision in your case made by an unbiased judge
- Ongoing contact with your child (unless the court or agency finds it is not in your child’s best interest)
- Ask for custody of your child
The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner the attorney can help you fight to win your CPS case. The Marshall Defense Firm has a great deal of experience in representing parents standing up for the best interests of their kids. Call the Marshall Defense Firm at (206) 826-1400 for a consultation