Children's Protective Services Investigation Process
CPS has 30 days to complete an investigation unless extenuating circumstances require an extension. A CPS investigation must begin within 24 hours and usually includes:
Face-to-face interviews with the alleged child victim(s), the child's caretaker(s), the alleged perpetrator(s).
Viewing the family's home.
Reviewing any necessary documents, such as police reports, criminal history, medical reports, school reports, CPS case file, etc.
Interviewing neighbors, friends, relatives or professionals that have had contact with the family.
An assessment of the child's safety.
An assessment of the child's future risk of abuse and/or neglect.
An assessment of the family's needs and strengths.
CPS investigator considers the following factors during the investigation:
Are there alternative explanations to the allegations?
What are the family dynamics and family circumstances?
Who is making the complaint?
Is there corroborating evidence? (For example, witness statements, findings during a home visit, etc.)
Should there be a medical exam of the child?
Does the child have an injury? If so:
What is the explanation of the injury?
Is that explanation feasible?
Where is the injury located?
Is there more than one injury at different stages of healing?
What is the condition of the home? (For example, cleanliness, safety hazards, etc.)
What is the condition of the child? (For example, appropriately dressed, cleanliness, etc.)
Are the child's basic needs being met?
Is there adequate supervision?
Are the caretakers emotionally/mentally abusing the child?
Disposition of the CPS Investigation
Based on the review of the above factors, CPS must determine if there is a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or neglect. Preponderance of evidence means evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than evidence which is offered in opposition to it; a 51% likelihood that abuse or neglect occurred.
Following a completed investigation, CPS will put a case in one of the following categories:
Category V-Cases in which CPS is unable to locate the family, no evidence of child abuse or neglect is found or the court declines to issue an order requiring family cooperation during the investigation.
Category IV-Cases in which a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or neglect is not found. The department must assist the child's family in voluntarily participating in community-based services commensurate with risk level determined by the risk assessment (structured decision making tool).
Category III-Cases in which the department determines that there is a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or neglect and the risk assessment indicates a low or moderate risk. A referral to community-based services must be made by CPS.
Category II-Cases in which the department determines that there is a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or neglect and the risk assessment indicates a high or intensive risk. Services must be provided by CPS, in conjunction with community-based services.
Category I-Cases in which the department determines that there is a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or neglect and a court petition is needed and/or required. Services must be provided by CPS (or foster care), in conjunction with community-based services.
When a case is placed in Category II or I, the perpetrator's name is listed on the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry. See the Central Registry page for more information regarding central registry.
If necessary to ensure a child's safety, CPS may file a petition with the court requesting that the court order any of the following:
The family to cooperate with in-home services.
Removal of the perpetrator from the home.
Removal of the child from the home.
CPS cannot remove a child from the home without a court order.
The court may deny the petition, including the request for removal.