The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has an obligation to investigate any report it receives about child abuse or neglect — but that can result in incredibly stressful and terrifying experiences for innocent parents who are targeted by well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) neighbors and relatives.
Here are some important pieces of information that parents should keep in mind when dealing with a children’s services investigation:
1. Remember that this is the investigator’s job
The investigator has a legal obligation to fulfill, so he or she has to look into the allegations. Most investigators are professionals and will do their jobs responsibly. No matter how you feel about the situation, try to remain polite and respectful toward the investigator. Antagonizing the investigator doesn’t benefit you.
2. It doesn’t matter that the allegations are ridiculous
You may know the allegations are probably coming from your mother-in-law or another relative that’s angry at you. You may know that they are false claims. The investigator won’t know until he or she looks into the situation.
3. An investigator cannot automatically enter your dwelling
Investigators need your permission to enter your home unless they have a warrant, or it is an emergency situation. For the most part, you are free to deny entry. If you do allow the investigator inside, you have the right to ask him or her to leave at any time.
In addition, allowing an investigator into your home isn’t the same as giving permission for the investigator to open your bathroom cabinets or look inside your kitchen cupboards. You are perfectly within your rights to refuse intrusive, unnecessary searches.
4. An investigator may threaten to come back with the police
If you do refuse the investigator admittance, you may be threatened with the police and a warrant. That’s fine. During the time the investigator is gone, you can contact your family law attorney for advice about how to respond to the situation.
The stability of your family is important — and you have a right to protect yourself against false allegations and unnecessary intrusions.