Challenging a CPS / ACS Indicated Finding
As a qualified family lawyer, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro, Esq. has the knowledge and experience to assist clients with a wide variety of complex, and often highly emotional cases regarding children and parental relationships. His experience, managing various cases all with their own distinct nuances and considerations, has led Mr. Shapiro to a deeper understanding of various legal procedures, and how to best navigate complicated issues. This can be particularly useful for individuals who find themselves in the process of challenging an indicated or founded report issued by the New York Administration of Children's Services, or Child Protective Services – ACS (in New York City) or CPS (in Nassau or Suffolk County Long Island and outside of the City).
When challenging an indicated finding, accessing the support of a highly-educated family lawyer can be your most critical line of defense, however it is still important to ensure you're aware of your own rights in such circumstances. For instance, as Mr. Shapiro frequently reminds his clients - the subject of a report to CPS/APS does have the right to refuse to cooperate within an investigation. In other words, the subject is not required, by law, to permit the caseworker entry to their home, or to speak with the caseworker about the allegations absent a court order. Sometimes it might make sense to cooperate, but it is still your home in which you have rights to privacy. If you refuse to cooperate within these circumstances, the agent sent by the protective services will not be able to force their way into your home. Rather, caseworkers will be required to submit a formal request to a judge at the Family Court, who will then evaluate the situation and determine whether enough evidence has been provided to order the subject to comply with child protective services. Of course, this doesn't mean that you should automatically refuse to cooperate with child protective services, as choosing this course of action can have negative consequences. Also, a large number of investigations will typically result in "unfounded" determinations - which can be beneficial to your case.
Another issue that Mr. Darren Shapiro frequently discusses with his clients, is that unless CPS has indicated the report in question, or the investigation determines that there is some credible evidence of alleged abuse or maltreatment - any information within the report must be sealed. What's more, reports issued before the 12th of February 1996 must have their data expunged from the State Central Register and local district offices. In other words, the information should not have an impact on your ability to pass screening tests for employment purposes, as you will be given due process protection according to the requirements provided by New York Law.
The central register is the documentation that is often reviewed when considering an individual who is applying for particular positions within a work or personal format. Positions that may require investigation could include: An adoptive parent, foster parent, child care worker, health care worker, employee of a daycare center, teacher, family support worker, and so on. People who are considered for employment within particular public or residential child care facilities will often be prohibited from engaging in unsupervised contact with children until their screening with the Central Register has proven to be successful. Any individual above the age of 18 who lives in the home of a person applying to become a foster or adoptive parent, must also be screened.
When an individual becomes the subject of an indicated findings investigation, they will have the right to receive notification in writing of the results of the investigation within sixty days. If the letter a client receives determines that the report is unfounded, the matter will be closed, and you will need to take no further action. However, if ACS/CPS determines that the report made is founded, you will receive a letter stating that the report is "indicated" against you. Simply put, this means that they believe there was some credible evidence present to suggest abuse or neglect towards children. If a report is indicated against a client, they will be given ninety days to challenge those findings, preferably with the assistance of a competent lawyer such as Mr. Darren M. Shapiro, Esq.. The aim of this challenge will be to amend the report so that it reads "unfounded". The request will prompt an administrative review that could lead to immediate reversal of the indicated finding, or, if the case is not reversed upon the administrative review, the opportunity for the subject to take part in a "fair hearing", again preferably with the assistance of their attorney.
If the report against a subject is "indicated", it is possible for CPS or ACS to act in two ways. The first is to take no further action against the subject beyond the fact that their name will be located on a child abuse register until ten years following the eighteenth birthday of the youngest child involved. The second option allows the county attorney to file a petition for abuse or neglect under an "N" docket, resulting in court proceedings.
Importantly, the subject of an indicated report will be able to receive a copy of the information contained within their report at any time, upon request. However, keep in mind that the State commissioner involved with children and family services may redact data that could identify the person responsible for making the report in the first place. Similarly, information could be prohibited that identifies people cooperating with investigations, if that information is deemed to be dangerous to the safety of the person. What's more, the commissioner may choose to expunge, amend, or seal any record as a result of good cause, and will give notice to people named in the report should this action take place.
If an individual chooses to make a report alleging child abuse or maltreatment knowing that such a report has no basis, the local service for child protection, or office of children and family services should refer those cases to the appropriate law enforcement official. False allegations that are reported to the State Central Register turn falsely accused and children into victims, and force protective services to waste their time on false reports while lives could be at stake.
To learn more about family law, please reach out to us via phone, contact form, or in person. If you are interested in using Mr. Shapiro's legal services, feel free to schedule your complimentary half-hour consultation at your earliest convenience. It would be our pleasure to speak with you.