If your children have been removed by a child protection agency, often called CPS, DFS, or some other abbreviation, it’s a pretty safe bet that your emotions are in overdrive, making it difficult for you to deal with what is happening. The absolute worst thing you could do now is to take any advice from Linda Jo Martin of FightCPS.com. On her site, there’s a ridiculous article titled, “How to Get Your CPS Case into Public Record Available for Research.” Follow this advice, and you’ll not only delay or completely prevent reunification with your children, you’ll also find yourself on the wrong end of a defamation lawsuit and possible a harassment charge. Your case isn’t public. Child welfare cases are confidential, for a reason. Signing affidavits or declarations (one is not the other) claiming that a caseworker has committed a crime or failed to perform their job and then sending that to an official agency is possibly the most detrimental thing you can do.
It’s a certainty that untold numbers of distraught parents have followed the ignorant ramblings found on Linda Jo Martin’s site and Facebook group, only to lose their children permanently. If you’re dealing with CPS, you should document your interactions and concerns, but in a proper, grown-up manner that doesn’t lead the people in charge of your case to wonder just how mentally unstable you are. Here’s how to properly document your interactions with CPS:
- Keep a notebook or legal pad that will only be used for notes concerning your child welfare case. Don’t use it for anything else.
- Write down every conversation you have in person or over the phone with a caseworker, law enforcement officer, psychologist, foster care provider, or anyone else who is tied to your case in an official capacity. Write down the date, time, full name and title of the person who called. Ask for their name before you start talking. Make notes of what was said by the official and your response. There’s no need to send a notice of the contact every time.
- If you must contact a caseworker via mail, make sure your it’s for a good reason, like you showed up for a scheduled visit, but the children weren’t there, or during the visit you noticed injuries and the child’s explanation doesn’t match up with the official reason. Never, ever be rude, condescending, or abrasive—unless you want to lose your children forever. The letter should read something like this:Date:
To:Re: [case number or court number]
Dear [caseworker or other official],
On xxxx, I arrived at xxxx for a scheduled supervised visit with my child. Upon arriving, I was informed that the visit had been cancelled. Needless to say, I was deeply disappointed. Thank you for your efforts in trying to arrange the visit. (Yes, thank them, even if you have to do it through gritted teeth.) Please, contact me as soon as possible with the time and place of the next scheduled visit.
Also at the last visit, I noticed a laceration and bruise on my child’s arm. When I asked you about it, you told me the foster care provider said that my daughter was bitten by another child at school. However, my child insists the foster care provider’s dog bit her. I’m concerned about the discrepancy and would appreciate it if you could look into the reason for the differing explanations. Thank you for your efforts.
- If you contact a child welfare agency by mail, you must also document the mailing. You could send the letter via certified mail, but that can get expensive if you’re on a budget. Instead, have someone you trust fill out a Proof of Service and mail the letter themselves. You address the envelope and affix the stamp. They sign the Proof of Service, put the letter and the original proof of service in the envelope and mail it. Be sure you keep a copy of the letter and the Proof of Service. Make these copies before your designated mailer puts them in the envelope and mails them. If you need a template of a Proof of Service, use the link that follows, filling it out to match your situation: https://1drv.ms/w/s!AtenxEjHPM8rgYAK_OZzq6AQqMfVmA
- Some well-meaning but wholly uninformed people on Facebook advise contacting your casework every week. This is only a good idea if you’re required to attend weekly meetings or complete weekly tasks as assigned by a family court. If not, don’t bombard the caseworker with unwanted emails and texts. Not only will you run the risk of irritating them, you may inadvertently disclose information that hurts your case. This is no time to act like an impudent child. Yes, you’re angry, hurt, embarrassed, scared, and confused. But acting on these emotions will only cause you and your children more grief. Stay centered. Focus on what you must do reunite your family. And stay as far away from the advice on FightCPS.com as you can.