How a Child Becomes Yours (and every other taxpayer’s)

  1. Child is suspected of being abused, neglected of basic needs, or dependent without proper care and supervision.
  2. Someone (teacher, neighbor, coach, relative, or anonymous) calls child protective services (CPS) to report it.
  3. CPS decides if the call warrants a full investigation according to the law. For example, corporal discipline is not child abuse unless it leaves a visible injury on the child (bruise, welt, abrasion).
  4. If the caseworker assigned investigates and feels the child is at imminent risk of harm (OMG something horrible awful might happen to this kid RIGHT NOW unless we get him or her to a safe place), the caseworker will consult with an attorney. The attorney representing the caseworker from CPS will file a motion in COURT and seek custody so that CPS can remove a child from a dangerous situation.  VERY IMPORTANT FACT: ONLY A COURT ORDER DETERMINES WHETHER A CHILD IS PLACED IN FOSTER CARE. THIS DECISION IS MADE BY THE JUDGE AFTER HE OR SHE HEARS THE FACTS. In an emergency situation, the court can swear in a caseworker over the phone at 2 AM and give custody to CPS and an emergency hearing will be set for first thing in the morning.
  5. If custody is granted to CPS, the child is removed from the parents and placed with a relative who has a completed background check or placed in a foster home (or group home, emergency shelter, etc.).
  6. The parents are offered services to remedy the conditions which resulted in the child’s placement outside of their care as well as weekly visitation. The child is offered any needed educational or therapeutic services.
  7. Once CPS receives custody, the child legally belongs to the government, meaning the child legally belongs to, well, everyone and no one. Including YOU.
  8. So, how are your children doing?