Unfortunately, some individuals may judge your choice of parenting and not understand your situation. In some cases, they may even report you to the Division of Social Services.
In North Carolina, the law states that the Division of Social Services (DSS) is responsible for investigating child neglect and abuse reports. During the investigation, you’ll work closely with a social worker who will determine if you and your home life are fit to take care of your child. If you fall under these circumstances, you should contact a DSS investigation lawyer at King Law as soon as possible. Having legal representation throughout the investigation can help you navigate the complicated process.
What Are Some Reasons for a DSS Investigation?
The Division of Social Services will investigate you if someone makes a report in regard to suspected neglect or abuse of your child. Some individuals are mandatory reporters and must report to the DSS if they suspect individuals of abuse. These individuals include teachers, child care providers, and physicians. If they see signs of neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or physical abuse, they will contact social services.
Some ways they may suspect you include:
- Recurring broken bones or lacerations injuries
- Extensive bruising
- Welts, burns, bald spots, or bite marks
- Underweight and fails to have proper meals
- Absence of appropriate clothing for the weather and environment
- Unusually wary of physical contact
- Fatigued or often falls asleep during class
- Described being a victim of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse
- Shows anti-social, self-injurious, or destructive behavior
If a mandatory reporter doesn’t report the suspected abuse, they may be held liable and face serious consequences. Another possibility is that the person who reported the suspected abuse is not a mandatory report and may have heard or seen something that caused them to report the incident to DSS. Reports made to the Division of Social Services are confidential and those who report and given privacy, so you won’t know who reported you for the abuse.
What to Expect When You’re Investigated by the DSS?
Most individuals have never been reported to the DSS and may feel overwhelmed by the possibility of losing custody and parental rights due to the report. The DSS Investigation process can take weeks to months and requires multiple steps to gather sufficient evidence of abuse or its lack. DSS wants to make sure that their conclusion is the best decision for the child. Below is the process of a DSS Investigation into child abuse and neglect.
DSS Receives a Report of Neglect of Abuse
After a report is made to the DSS of suspected child neglect and abuse, a social worker will begin an investigation as soon as possible. How fast the case is started depends on the report and its severity. The social worker will start the investigation either immediately or within 72 hours.
Meeting with a Social Worker
Once the initial report is filed and the investigation started, a social worker will often come to your residence. They will meet you, your child, and other household members to analyze the situation and determine if the reported allegations are plausible and fit into the legal area of neglect and abuse. A DSS case and complete investigation will occur only if the allegations are met with some evidence of legal neglect and abuse.
An investigatory assessment is where a social worker investigates the alleged neglect or abuse, the facts stated in the report, and the current risk for your child. They may often go to places where the child’s behavior is observed or others who interact with you and your child. It’s vital to cooperate with social services, but you also need to protect your child’s rights and your own.
The outcome of a DSS case can impact child custody, visitation, and even parental rights. During a DSS investigation, you can trust that your rights are respected and protected when you have legal representation.
How Can a DSS Investigation Affect Child Custody and Your Parental Rights?
After the investigative assessment, the social worker will determine if the allegations of abuse or neglect are substantial for a case. The time it takes to complete the assessment allows social services and even the child’s other parent can seek to have your custody or visitation reduced, supervised, or revoked. If DSS decides to open a full investigation, you may face serious consequences. Some of the consequences include:
- Loss of custody
- Loss of parental rights
- Placed on the Responsible Individuals List (RIL)
- Remove the child from the home
- Educational care classes like parenting classes, anger management classes, and substance abuse counseling
Your visitation and custody may change long-term depending on the results of the investigation. Even if DSS chooses not to limit custody, the other parent may seek legal action and challenge the current custody rights. Having a dependable attorney at your side can significantly increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina DSS Investigation Lawyer
Most parents consider their children to be the most important part of their life. The joy and love you feel for your child are unfathomable and to have them taken from you based on another person’s judgment is painful and unfathomable. When you work with a DSS investigation attorney at King Law, you can trust that you’ll have accessible communication and dependable legal representation. With countless positive testimonials and past results, you can see the difference we make in the lives of our clients.
Call (888) 748-KING (5464) or fill out our contact form for more information.