Family Protective Services

  1. What has been your experience with reporting to family protective services? I made my first report at the end of last week and received the response that there wasn't anything for them to investigate at this time shortly after submitting it. 2 other co-workers also reported to them for the same child regarding the same situation. Fast forward to today when I receive a call from the parent stating they had been visited by CPS the other day and their reasoning was because the child had visited the nurse's office multiple times recently for one specific reason, of which, was not a reason any of us reported for. Parent now wants a copy of the child's visits to the clinic.

    Here are my questions:
    1) is it normal for them to say there is nothing to investigate only to turn around and visit the home less than a week after the report was made?
    2) is it customary for them to use a false reason for the investigation?
    3) is it possible a different person, unrelated to the school and the situation in which we are aware of, reported the same child and it just happened to be investigated after we reported?

    I'm sorry if this is so vague as I don't want to reveal too much info but I'm still really confused on how this has played out. I simply have nothing to compare it to.

    Thanks for your help!
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    About KeeperOfTheIceRN

    Joined: Apr '16; Posts: 472; Likes: 1,527

    30 Comments

  3. by   AdobeRN
    I would say #3 which caused #1 to happen because of mulit reports on same child. In our area parents can get a copy of whatever was reported to CPS, so I doubt a worker would use a false reason for the investigation.

    Give mom a copy of the clinic visits and just play dumb if she asks you if you know anything about the CPS report.
  4. by   OldDude
    Anything and everything is possible...in my neck of the woods, CPS is chronically and excessively short staffed...meaning you're not getting the best and brightest to fill overworked, underappreciated, and underpaid positions. CPS workers have burned me as the report source, police officers have burned me as the report source, and even one of my principal's has done the same thing. Just report any suspicion of abuse or neglect and stand tall.
  5. by   EnoughWithTheIce
    Quote from OldDude
    Anything and everything is possible...in my neck of the woods, CPS is chronically and excessively short staffed...meaning you're not getting the best and brightest to fill overworked, underappreciated, and underpaid positions. CPS workers have burned me as the report source, police officers have burned me as the report source, and even one of my principal's has done the same thing. Just report any suspicion of abuse or neglect and stand tall.
    This is true in my experience also! We are bound to make the report if we suspect both by our role as a school staff member and as part of our nursing license.

    I had a vice principal throw me under the bus because a parent of student that was reported on was a good friend of hers. She felt mighty silly when she found out that a PE coach had made the report and I knew absolutely nothing about it. They just assumed since a suspicious injury was reported, it was me!!

    Looking back, I should have filed a grievance against her.....
  6. by   UrbanHealthRN
    Oh lordy, I could write a book about all the interactions I've had with CPS. The part of my state that I've been working in over the last few years has incredibly high rates of child abuse and neglect (#1 in the state!), and so I'm very familiar with reporting families and/or working with families who've been investigated.

    Thoughts on your three questions:

    1) Sometimes it takes a few separate calls to CPS before they decide to investigate. When you called, you may have been the first report, but then after receiving subsequent calls, CPS decided to act. This is why I always tell people to REPORT ANY AND EVERY TIME YOU ARE CONCERNED- you never know if your call will be the one to break the camel's back.

    2) CPS should never lie to families about why they're investigating, and usually there's no reason to- CPS is simply acting on someone else's report, and they're in the home to decide if it's true or not. CPS will keep things anonymous, though- at least in my state, the source of a call is never shared with a family, though like OldDude said, I have seen investigators reveal sources to families, which is incredibly dangerous.

    3) Somebody else absolutely may have reported their own concerns to CPS, which led to the investigation. Not always, but sometimes, if a family situation is really getting out of control, multiple people in the kid's life will take notice and report what they hear/see to CPS.

    Just to add, be VERY AWARE of the possibility that this family you're dealing with may be fishing for information, as in, CPS didn't reveal the source of the call but the family is trying to figure out who dun it, so the family has made up a story that it was you and now they want clinic notes. Don't take the brunt of it- you were calling on behalf of yourself as a professional and also the school you work for. Get support from coworkers and higher ups if need be when dealing with this family. Keep everything confidential that should remain confidential.

    Two months ago I had the very unfortunate experience of a coworker revealing too much info to a family who I called CPS on, and they literally head hunted me at my place of work for 3 days, trying to meet with me alone. I refused to do so until I followed up with CPS first, and when we did meet, I had two coworkers with me, and we represented ourselves as one agency in which all staff are mandated reporters for abuse and neglect. The family backed down, and fortunately the child is now receiving some extra support and monitoring for what is a pretty strange family situation.
  7. by   JenTheSchoolRN
    I will say I have told parents that the school has called CPS/is going to call CPS because of a legal obligation. Because the parents always find out who reported it seems and I have nothing to hide. I also have to report on siblings above a certain age that may a primary care taker of the child and I have called home to tell a parent I need to do so. As has my counselor. (This conversation is short and sweet, however).

    Usually the counselor at my school is the person to make the report as whole when it comes from the school, but I'm the back-up and have done more than I wish, but part of the job. I must say, I've never been told the investigation was closed until at least a week later and yes, I've had an investigation restarted when a different complaint was made. I have also been questioned by CPS during an investigation from a report not made by the school.

    As OldDude said, sure, give the parents the notes as they have a right to them, but hold your head up high that you did what needed to be done.
  8. by   MHDNURSE
    At our school, we actually tell the family we are reporting them out of courtesy. We explain that as mandated reporters, it is our duty to make sure that our kids are safe, and it is the duty of CPS to decide if further investigation is warranted. We explain it like it is almost a "positive screening" where based on findings, we decide CPS should investigate further. Surprisingly, most of the time, families understand and are not hostile about it. We have a couple families who can be difficult and now that CPS has been called, they are not the warmest, but in the end, things have mostly worked out well.
  9. by   Flare
    At this point, I have made so many referral so my state's version of CPS that I can run through their scrpit of questions better than they can. It's sad really. A few things, I always request that my identity be kept anonymous - they say that it will be automatically, but I make it a point to request it additionally. Most likely the parent is going to figure out who made the call anyhow after the child gets home and says that they told the nurse how daddy whipped them with a belt and the nurse saw them and now there is a person from the state at their house, it doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist, but still.

    In my state they classify their responses - immediate response, 24 hour, 48 hour, or as simply a note if they don't feel it warrants a visit. But they always tell us before we hang up from reporting and give us a field office number. Most of the calls I have made have warranted either an immediate rersponse, which often means that there will be a home visit later on that afternoon, as it's rare that they get to school before the end of the day, or a 24 hr response.

    There have been times when a call has been made by the school but a call has also been made by a concerned family member or another person the child interacts with (i.e. employee at library where child may be left for hours daily). It probably happens more often than we imagine because if one aspect of the child's life sucks, then chances are, it probably is spilling into other arenas and others are noticing or being told by the child.

    Be confident in the fact that you as a mandated reporter are doing something for this child's safety and well-being. I am not saying that you will never receive venom from the parent, but to be honest it happens less than you'd expect. These parents know what happened and why the state was called.
  10. by   UrbanHealthRN
    Quote from MHDNURSE
    At our school, we actually tell the family we are reporting them out of courtesy. We explain that as mandated reporters, it is our duty to make sure that our kids are safe, and it is the duty of CPS to decide if further investigation is warranted. We explain it like it is almost a "positive screening" where based on findings, we decide CPS should investigate further. Surprisingly, most of the time, families understand and are not hostile about it. We have a couple families who can be difficult and now that CPS has been called, they are not the warmest, but in the end, things have mostly worked out well.
    While I can see where folks are coming from when they say we should tell families about our CPS calls, I can't completely agree with it.

    If a woman is being abused by her husband, and I help her to call the police, a DV shelter, or some other resource, I am not going to share with the husband what I've done. Why? Because I need to keep the woman safe, and this man is a physically violent person.

    If I'm pretty sure a kid is getting beat up at home by a grown-up because of the marks they're coming to school with, or the information they're sharing with an adult, I will call CPS and no way in he** am I telling the family. Why? So they can hurt the kid more? Let those people get what they deserve. Some of what I saw with my last job was absolutely horrifying, and if there's anything I can do to help a kid get away from that, I will.

    Now if the CPS call is for something more random, like a basic needs problem, yes I will talk to the family about it, but for straight up abuse or neglect, no. See my story above, about the family who tracked me down for three days, if you're still wondering why.
  11. by   JenTheSchoolRN
    Quote from UrbanHealthRN
    While I can see where folks are coming from when they say we should tell families about our CPS calls, I can't completely agree with it.

    If a woman is being abused by her husband, and I help her to call the police, a DV shelter, or some other resource, I am not going to share with the husband what I've done. Why? Because I need to keep the woman safe, and this man is a physically violent person.

    If I'm pretty sure a kid is getting beat up at home by a grown-up because of the marks they're coming to school with, or the information they're sharing with an adult, I will call CPS and no way in he** am I telling the family. Why? So they can hurt the kid more? Let those people get what they deserve. Some of what I saw with my last job was absolutely horrifying, and if there's anything I can do to help a kid get away from that, I will.

    Now if the CPS call is for something more random, like a basic needs problem, yes I will talk to the family about it, but for straight up abuse or neglect, no. See my story above, about the family who tracked me down for three days, if you're still wondering why.
    See, if I think the child is in danger by going home, it will be marked URGENT by CPS and we will not allow the child home until CPS clears them to do so. CPS will send someone out my way.

    I have still told the parent we called CPS, because depending on timing, I have to tell them they cannot take their child out of the school building. You can imagine how fun that is.

    (And one of the questions I get from CPS on the phone report is has the parent/guardian been notified that this report is being made - may just be my state though.)
  12. by   UrbanHealthRN
    Quote from JenTheSchoolRN
    See, if I think the child is in danger by going home, it will be marked URGENT by CPS and we will not allow the child home until CPS clears them to do so. CPS will send someone out my way.

    I have still told the parent we called CPS, because depending on timing, I have to tell them they cannot take their child out of the school building. You can imagine how fun that is.

    (And one of the questions I get from CPS on the phone report is has the parent/guardian been notified that this report is being made - may just be my state though.)
    I completely agree- if a child is imminent danger, we would not release him or her to the family. I guess I'm thinking of those grey areas where we suspect abuse is happening, but aren't sure. Like in my case, I'm working with preschool aged kids, so it can be hard for them to say what's going on or explain a mark on their body. Am I concerned they could have been hurt at home, based on location or type of mark? Yes. Is it enough to not release the child to family? At least in my experience, that hasn't happened yet. I can't even imagine what I would do if we had to tell a parent to not pick up their child.

    Also- my state does not ask if parents were notified when a CPS call is placed.
  13. by   not.done.yet
    When you consider a CPS report on a child in the school setting, are things like frequent tardies or absences, missing vaccinations, inconsistent school work and poor behavior by the child (inability to cope with the variables of the school setting), childhood obesity etc factors that come into play? I am wondering how neglect or drug use in the home without overt physical abuse is discovered or acted on.
  14. by   AdobeRN
    Quote from not.done.yet
    When you consider a CPS report on a child in the school setting, are things like frequent tardies or absences, missing vaccinations, inconsistent school work and poor behavior by the child (inability to cope with the variables of the school setting), childhood obesity etc factors that come into play? I am wondering how neglect or drug use in the home without overt physical abuse is discovered or acted on.
    We had a drug use situation once or at least the drugs were just part of the problem -a few teachers noticed that when they assisted student into the car at the end of the day there was strong skunky odor - teacher made the call for CPS to do a welfare type of check but nothing came of it until other issues started to happen.

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