3 Comments | 3 years, 1 month ago
It's inevitable. If you choose to foster, more than likely you will have a CPS complaint filed against you at some point. CPS may or may not choose to come out and investigate the complaint. My objective in writing this post, is to help you prepare and navigate the process of the investigation.
Do Not Take It Personally
When it happens, know that someone is doing their job. As a foster parent, you know that you are a mandated reporter. That means that if you suspect anything, you MUST report it to CPS. Teachers, daycare workers, therapists, doctors, and a slew of other professionals that we work with everyday, are also mandated reporters. CPS complaints happen on foster homes for a slew of reasons. One reason is a child with attachments issues will often report their foster home in an attempt to move placements. This tactic is known by CPS, so don’t fret! Also, foster homes are held to a higher standard than birth homes. Our houses are glass houses, and there is a revolving door of social workers in and out every month. Rest assured that if you have done nothing wrong, you don’t need to worry! Very few complaints on foster homes are founded.
Know What Triggers Your Children
One of the steps the CPS worker will take in their investigation is showing up, usually unannounced at your home. Know that it is okay to speak to your children first to reassure them, before they speak to the CPS worker alone. It would be ideal for this conversation to happen in front of the CPS worker, so they know you are not hiding anything. Transparency is key to the CPS investigation. Remember that a child in foster care has more than likely gone through a CPS investigation before. They have spoken to a CPS worker, and were taken from their homes. It was a traumatic experience in the child’s life! Having the CPS worker in the foster home can trigger those same fears. Reassure your child that the CPS worker is doing his or her job, and that everything is okay. Do not make the CPS worker out to be “the bad guy”. Again, know that someone is doing their job. In our family’s experience, using the word “CPS worker” is a trigger. We simply explain that the person is there to make sure the child is safe. That’s a good thing!
Understand that Your DSS Workers Have to Step Back
In order for the CPS worker to do his or her job effectively, and to ensure that the investigation is not bias, the regular foster care workers cannot be involved. They are aware the investigation is ongoing, but they are not privy to the details during the investigation process. The foster care worker cannot discuss the investigation with you, and cannot be there to talk to you about it. If you rely on this worker for support, unfortunately, you will have to find another avenue of comfort during this time. But do not get discouraged - their lack of communication with you is not because they are “judging” you, or do not want to talk to you; it is simply that they are not allowed to. Your worker may be able to provide you with other support avenues, including other foster families who have experienced similar investigations, or counseling. Of course, we here at Matthew’s Child are always here for you as well!
Know that after a complaint, you will not have a “black mark” on your file at DSS. If the investigation comes back unfounded, then the Department of Social Services can put even more faith in your ability to protect and nurture their children!