According to DC.gov, every child in Michigan and throughout the United States has the right to be safe and live without fear of abuse. The District defines child abuse as intentionally hurting a child, putting a child in a dangerous situation, exploiting the child to sexual contact or paraphernalia or causing mental or emotional harm to a child. The law also protects children from neglect, which it defines as lack of shelter, food, education or medical care. If the government receives information that indicates you subject your child to abuse or neglect, it will send Child Protective Services to investigate. What happens from there depends on what the CPS agent discovers during the initial visit, subsequent visits and its investigation.

The goal of CPS and similar agencies is to keep families together whenever possible. That said, agencies have a legal responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect. After receiving a call, the agency will conduct an investigation and notify you of its findings via letter within 30 days. If the results reveal that your child is not subject to harm or neglect, it will typically un-involve itself unless you ask for help. Help may include providing access to daycare, enrolling you in food stamps or offering access to counseling services.

If, on the other hand, the CPS agent determines your child is not safe — whether because of abuse, neglect or unsafe living quarters — he or she is legally obligated to remove your child to a safe place. If you have more than one child, the state will do its best to keep them all together. If you have relatives willing to take your child or children, the state will place him, her or them with a family member. Otherwise, the state will relocate your children to a foster home.

If CPS removes your child from the home, it will have 72 hours to seek the court’s approval for doing so. The courts ultimately decide whether the decision to remove your child was warranted or not.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.