A Social Worker Showed Up to My House. Should I Talk to Her/Him?
If you are contacted by a CPS or DCFS social worker over the phone or in person and informed that you have been accused of something, inquire about the allegation. Inquire about the precise state statute or local ordinance code that you are accused of breaking. Make a note of it in your head. If you arrive at your door suddenly and don't have a pen and paper, politely ask for their forgiveness while you go get some, excuse yourself for "a minute," close and lock the door quietly (don't be seen), and go find something to write on. Return and jot down anything that comes to mind.
Recognize the social worker(s) and/or cop(s) who have arrived at your residence. Make a note of their badge numbers and request business cards. You should have your pen and paper ready at this point.
You may be able to utilize a video camera or an audio tape recorder to record the front entrance or the in-home discourse if you have advance notice or suspect that you are being investigated and are expecting a house visit. It is legal to conceal the camera or recorder so that the social worker or police officer is not aware that they are being videotaped. Many parents utilize these devices to keep their children safe from abuse by caregivers. Filming on your own property is never forbidden, regardless of what a social worker or police officer tells you.
If a social worker from CPS or DCFS approaches you and asks to enter your house, politely decline. If they insist, compel, or threaten you with consequences if you refuse to let them in, stand your ground. If the social worker or police officer persists, inquire if they have a warrant or court order allowing them to enter your home against your will. If the social worker or police officer insists on entering your home without a warrant, remind them that if they have a warrant or court order issued by a judge or magistrate, you will gladly cooperate and allow them to do so. If a police officer then demands that you move out of the way and insists on entering your home, you should do so or risk being detained.
You have the same legal rights if a court officer, such as a CPS/DCFS social worker or a police officer, tries to persuade or compel you to do something against your will. You should not anticipate to be required to drive to and appear at the county social worker's office, nor should you be required to "bring your children into the CPS or DCFS offices to be interviewed" until a formal court order has been made. Only a judge or magistrate, when confronted with evidence that you have committed a crime, can issue an order that you must obey or comply with. Unfortunately, 90% of people will mindlessly execute such "orders" because they appear "essential" - while CPS social workers utilize your support and cooperation to build a case against you. If you get such demands, you should obtain legal counsel immediately since the social workers are almost probably building a case against you.
Uninvited CPS investigators are a common occurrence. You can tell the CPS investigator that you'd like time to call your lawyer and that you'd prefer your lawyer to be present during any questioning if you've previously hired one. If the CPS agent does not have a warrant, they will most likely leave and ask you and your attorney to schedule an interview. If you don't have an attorney, explain to the investigator that you need time to find one and would like to reschedule the interview once you do. If the employee does not have a warrant, they will be asked to leave and return for an interview at a later time.
Even if you've asked time to meet with an attorney, the CPS investigator may attempt to question you while they're there. Maintain your composure and politeness, and say as little as possible. Give no information to the investigator because it will almost definitely be misinterpreted and used against you later. Maintain a calm demeanor. Make it clear that you want to hire a lawyer. The investigator should be asked to leave with as little information as feasible.