Dealing with the Missouri Children's Division (DFS, CPS, DCFS, etc.) Part II
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
I've previously written about the Missouri Children's Division (CD), but it can't hurt to provide more information about the organization and how to effectively deal with them, particularly at the start of an investigation.
Please note not everyone who works for CD is a jaded, manipulative bully. Some are good people who genuinely care about children and helping families. In my experience, those people are the exception, not the rule.
If CD comes to your home with a member of law enforcement, don't panic. Know your rights. The worker who arrives will demand to enter your home and will threaten that if you don't allow her in the home, your kids will be taken away. NO. NO. NO. They have no right to be inside your house or on your property without a warrant.
Do not say anything to the worker or the officer other than to leave. Don't answer any questions about your children, yourself or any complaints the worker may have about you. Ask for an attorney. We've all been taught to obey police officers and other workers for the state. Most of us are eager to help a person with an official title. When CD comes to your door, your instinct to be helpful should be ignored. The time has come for you to protect yourself and your family.
Don't sign a safety plan. It is a meaningless document with no legal effect. If you have a safety plan now, you can ignore it but you run the risk of a petition being filed in juvenile court, so contact an attorney first. If a petition is filed, a judge is appointed and there are rules she must follow. If a judge is not involved in your case, no juvenile statutes apply and there is nothing to stop your caseworker from indefinitely removing you or your children from your home. Also, you have the right to be appointed an attorney in juvenile court once a petition is filed. Ask for an attorney at the first opportunity if you are served with a petition.
Inexplicably, CD reacts to the same fact pattern of abuse in many different ways. A local attorney and I have a running joke there is a "Wheel of Misfortune" hidden somewhere on the premises. Each time there is a hotline alleging abuse, an investigator spins the wheel to randomly determine how the family will be treated. The options range from "Do nothing" to "Bring hellfire and damnation". You get the picture.
Finally, I would encourage anyone with children to post a sign on their front door saying: "If you are employed by the Missouri Children's Division or Juvenile office and you are reading this, you are trespassing"
Schuyler Laverentz is the author of this post.