Should I Meet And Talk To The Child Protective Services Social Worker?
I can univocally state the answer is NO, do not meet with the CPS or DCFS social worker without your attorney, 99 percent of the time. This advice is based on approximately 25 years of experience handling juvenile dependency cases at the trial and appellate level. I’ve made a career fighting Child Protective Services (“CPS”), also known as Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) in some counties such as Los Angeles.
It is also advice that would be disagreed with by most attorneys, especially those that are not experienced in juvenile dependency matters. It may even be looked down upon by some judges, and by most social workers.
So, why do I say NO, don’t meet with the social workers by yourself?
- You want to make sure that you are not misled by CPS or DCFS into saying anything that might be used against your interests. Let me make this clear, I am not promoting that you lie to the social worker. I am promoting that you be counseled before you talk to a social worker. Please remember that your interests in your children is at stake; and if the police are involved you should assume that everything you say is reported to the police. Frequently in child abuse criminal cases social workers go to criminal court to testify against you.
- Your attorney meeting with the CPS social worker (and probably her attorney) will provide your attorney great insight into the concerns of the social worker and the Agency. Sometimes you think the social worker will be concerned about A, B and C; and she is actually interested in C, D and E. This will give your attorney the ability to specifically craft defenses to the accusations against you.
- You appearing with an attorney, in my opinion, sets a definite standard as to how the social worker will deal with you throughout the case. It lets the social worker and CPS know that they are ACCOUNTABLE for everything they do; and that your attorney will do something is things are not handled fairly and appropriately.