CPS exists in a very singular and terrifying place among almost all parents. They are a proverbial boogeyman who exists solely to remove children from safe, loving homes based on whims. At least that's the feeling, however, that isn't quite true.
CPS in the most positive light exists to protect children from abuse in all it's various forms, It is certainly a noble idea, however, like most large scale operations sometimes errors get made.
We can fast forward a bit, and for this hypothetical CPS has been called and they are investigating an incident.
THEY HAVE 60 DAYS TO COMPLETE THE INVESTIGATION OF THE REPORT
During those 60 days they will ideally conduct several interviews, with any person who has contact with the child that they deem appropriate. At the end of that investigation there will be a report with three possible outcomes
1. indicated-there is some believable evidence that what was alleged happened actually happened.
2. substantiated-Some believable evidence that what was alleged to have happened happened.
3. unfounded-not enough evidence that the report was true.
If a report comes back either indicated or substantiated they are kept with the New York State Central Register(SCR)until the youngest child in the report is 28 years old. Once the child reaches 28 they are expunged or erased from SCR records.
This record has significant ramifications for a person moving forward, including: impact on ability to get a job in child care, to volunteer to work with children, to become a foster parent, or to adopt a child. Further, the police, district attorneys, child welfare agencies and judges will have access to this information. For instance if there is child custody dispute, the judge hearing the case will have access to that indicated report.
If a report is unfounded it is sealed, but what does that mean exactly?
It will still be kept at the SCR. It is available to police or to the Administration of Children's Services(ACS) or other child protective services. It is not available to employers, licensing agencies that deal with the care of children. An unfounded report will be expunged(erased) 10 years after it was made.
Thank you for reading, and I cannot stress this enough if you are in this situation please hire an attorney.
My next post will deal with the actual mechanics of appealing a substantiated or indicated CPS report.