CHILDREN'S PROTECTIVE SERVICES INVESTIGATION PROCESS

INVESTIGATION

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 according to MCL 722.628d:

Sec. 8d.

(1) For the department's determination required by section 8, the categories, and the departmental response required for each category, are the following:

(a) Category V - services not needed. Following a field investigation, the department determines that there is no evidence of child abuse or child neglect.

(b) Category IV - community services recommended. Following a field investigation, the department determines that there is not a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or child neglect, but the structured decision-making tool indicates that there is future risk of harm to the child. The department shall assist the child's family in voluntarily participating in community-based services commensurate with the risk to the child.

(c) Category III - community services needed. The department determines that there is a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or child neglect, and the structured decision-making tool indicates a low or moderate risk of future harm to the child. The department shall assist the child's family in receiving community-based services commensurate with the risk to the child. If the family does not voluntarily participate in services, or the family voluntarily participates in services, but does not progress toward alleviating the child's risk level, the department shall consider reclassifying the case as category II.

(d) Category II - child protective services required. The department determines that there is evidence of child abuse or child neglect, and the structured decision-making tool indicates a high or intensive risk of future harm to the child. The department shall open a protective services case and provide the services necessary under this act. The department shall also list the perpetrator of the child abuse or child neglect, based on the report that was the subject of the field investigation, on the central registry as provided in section 7(7), either by name or as "unknown" if the perpetrator has not been identified.

(e) Category I - court petition required. The department determines that there is evidence of child abuse or child neglect and 1 or more of the following are true:

(i) A court petition is required under another provision of this act.

(ii) The child is not safe and a petition for removal is needed.

(iii) The department previously classified the case as category II and the child's family does not voluntarily participate in services.

(iv) There is a violation, involving the child, of a crime listed or described in section 8a(1)(b), (c), (d), or (f) or of child abuse in the first or second degree as prescribed by section 136b of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.136b.

(2) In response to a category I classification, the department shall do all of the following:

(a) If a court petition is not required under another provision of this act, submit a petition for authorization by the court under section 2(b) of chapter XIIA of the probate code of 1939, 1939 PA 288, MCL 712A.2.

(b) Open a protective services case and provide the services necessary under this act.

(c) List the perpetrator of the child abuse or child neglect, based on the report that was the subject of the field investigation, on the central registry as provided in section 7(7), either by name or as "unknown" if the perpetrator has not been identified.

(3) The department is not required to use the structured decision-making tool for a nonparent adult who resides outside the child's home who is the victim or alleged victim of child abuse or child neglect or for an owner, operator, volunteer, or employee of a licensed or registered child care organization or a licensed or unlicensed adult foster care family home or adult foster care small group home as those terms are defined in section 3 of the adult foster care facility licensing act, 1979 PA 218, MCL 400.703.

(4) If following a field investigation, the department determines that there is a preponderance of evidence that an individual listed in subsection (3) was the perpetrator of child abuse or child neglect, the department shall list the perpetrator of the child abuse or child neglect on the central registry as provided in section 7(7).

When a case is placed in Category II or I, the perpetrator's name is listed on the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry.

 

COURT PETITIONS 

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.

  

FACTORS CONSIDERED PRIOR TO REQUESTING REMOVAL   

Prior to making the decision to request that the court order removal of a child, the following is assessed: 

  • Is the child at imminent risk of harm? 
  • How does the caretaker view the situation? 
  • Is the caretaker cooperative? 
  • Is the caretaker asking for help? 
  • Is the caretaker capable of change? 
  • Are there alternatives to removal? 
  • Are there immediate services that can be put in place to keep the child safe in the home? Can arrangements be made for the child until those services case be put in place? 
  • Will the perpetrator leave the home? 
  • Can court orders be put in place that would keep the child safe? 

 

REQUIRED PETITIONS

Under the Child Protection Law, the MDHHS is required to file a petition with the court. MCL 722.628d(1)(e) requires MDHHS to file a petition if MDHHS determines that there is evidence of child abuse and neglect and there is a violation, involving the child, of a crime listed or described in MCL 722.628a(1)(b), (c), (d) or (f) or of child abuse in the first or second degree as prescribed in the Michigan Penal Code, MCL 750.136b.

MCL 722.637 requires MDHHS to file a petition, with a few exceptions, when MDHHS determines a preponderance of evidence exists that a child has been: 

  • Sexually abused or exploited.
  • Severely physically injured due to abuse or neglect, including abuse or neglect that results in the death of the child.
  • Exposed to or had contact with methamphetamine production. 

MCL 722.638 requires MDHHS to file a petition when MDHHS determines a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or neglect of a child or a sibling of a child that includes one or more of the following:   

  • Abandonment of a young child.
  • Criminal sexual conduct involving penetration, attempted penetration, or assault with intent to penetrate.
  • Battering, torture, or other severe physical abuse.
  • Loss of impairment of an organ or limb.
  • Life threatening injury.
  • Murder or attempted murder.

  

REQUESTS FOR TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS 

Michigan's Child Protection Law also requires MDHHS to request termination of parental rights if the parent is responsible for any of the abuse or neglect listed above (under MCL 722.638) or if the parent failed to protect the child from someone else who abuses them in the ways listed above (under MCL 722.638). 

The MDHHS must also file a petition for termination of parental rights if the parent's rights to another child were terminated in Michigan or another state and there is current cases with a finding of a preponderance of evidence of abuse or neglect. Previous termination of parental rights includes situations in which:

  • A court terminated a parents' rights because the parent abused or neglected the child.
  • A parent voluntarily releases their parental rights and the child is a temporary court ward due to abuse or neglect.

It is important to remember that MDHHS files termination petitions as required by law, but the court determines if there are grounds for termination of parental rights.

If you or a family member need legal guidance on a matter involving an allegation of child abuse or neglect, please contact attorney STEVEN G. STORRS at the Law Office of Steven G. Storrs, PLC at 269-945-2242 or click here to contact me to set up a consultation to discuss your options.

 

 *This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney before making important decisions regarding your individual situation.