Knoxville DCS Department of Children Services Attorneys
Tennessee CPS Child Protective Services Lawyers
If you are accused of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, you can expect to be investigated by the Tennessee Department of Children Services (DCS). The results of an investigation may result in your child being taken from you, and you may also face criminal charges. In a situation like this, you need an experienced Knoxville DCS Lawyer who has the experience to help you.
We offer compassionate and effective legal solutions to clients who are under the investigation of DCS or who are interested in requesting guardianships over their children. Our legal team can conduct our own investigation, collect supporting evidence, and negotiate with the courts, so we can help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Child Abuse & Neglect Investigations
Tennessee law mandates that Child Protective Services (CPS) investigate a report of child abuse or neglect. Interviews of the child, alleged abuser, parents, and witnesses are conducted separately. During the first phases of an investigation, observers will observe the child’s environment and a medical examiner will examine the child’s condition or treat any injuries the child may have.
After the initial phases of investigation are complete, the investigator will give an preliminary assessment made – P1, P2, or P3 status:
- P1 – the child is in immediate danger and needs to be removed.
- P2 – the child should be removed within 24 hours
- P3 – the child should be removed within 48 hours
DCS investigators have the right to inspect the premises. Parents can cooperate with the investigation. In the event of noncompliance, the court can order compliance with the help of law enforcement.
What is Tennessee’s DCS investigation process?
If DCS determines the child was abused or neglected, or is in need of treatment or rehabilitation, the child will be taken into their custody. In addition, if a parent receives an “allegation indicated” letter (meaning alleged abuse occurred, but no abuser was identified) or a “perpetrator indicated” letter, he/she can submit an appeal – in writing – to the local DCS office.
Within 30 days of an investigation, DCS will schedule a home visit and a meeting between parents and DCS representatives. To win custody back, the team must create a permanency plan that outlines the steps parents must take.
Upon successfully following the permanency plan and obtaining judicial approval, a child will be released from DSC to the parents. In the event that the parents fail to comply with the plan, a judge can terminate their parental rights.
Understanding Your Rights As A Parent
What Tennessee Parents Need To Know After A Child’s Removal
You have the right to:
- An attorney
- Participate in developing the family permanency plan
- Visit your child
- Make decisions about education
You should be consulted about:
- Consent to major medical treatment of your child
- Your child’s religion
You should be informed about:
- Placement decisions
- Medical emergencies
The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) must help return your child to you. The court will want to know what DCS is doing to help you.
The right to an attorney – at all hearings, including appeals, you have the right to be represented by an attorney. If the court determines that you cannot afford an attorney, it will appoint one for you – the court must inform you of this right.
Your family will be provided with a permanency plan by DCS. Your plan will outline the services you and your child will receive – in it, you will learn what you must do to get your child back home. Participation in the Child and Family Team Meeting will be crucial to developing the plan – it is your right to be notified in advance of the meeting. As long as your child is in foster care, there will be additional Child and Family Team Meetings – participation in these meetings is your right, and you should do so. Schedule these meetings at a time and date that do not interfere with your family’s permanency plan requirements.
You have the right to visit your child as much as possible when your child is in foster care. You should have visits at least 2 times a month for at least 4 hours each month. If your child is placed far away from where you live, you have the right to receive travel assistance from DCS. Talk to your lawyer if you want to visit your child more, or if you are having problems getting to your visits.
Education & School Rights
While your child is in foster care you should help make decisions about your child’s education. You have the right to attend school meetings, and ask questions about your child’s education. There may be a decision made about whether it is in your child’s best interest to stay in his or her current school – you should be involved in that school placement decision.
While your child is in foster care, you should help make medical decisions, attend doctor appointments, and learn how to best care for your child. You should be consulted about major medical decisions, except emergencies. In some situations, your child can choose not to share his or her medical information with you.
Placement Decisions For Your Child
Be prepared to suggest a relative or other adult who knows your child and would be supportive of you and your family.
Due Process Rights
While your child is in foster care you have the right to participate in court hearings, or to request an appeal.
Your Responsibilities to the Court and DCS
- Attend all juvenile court hearings and team meetings
- Cooperate with your DCS case worker
- Participate in the services that are offered and work on your child’s permanency plan
- Pay child support if ordered by the court
- Provide all relevant information to DCS
- Provide your DCS case worker with information about your progress towards completing your responsibilities in your family permanency plan
- Visit and communicate with your child
Contact A Knoxville DCS CPS Defense Lawyer For Help
A DCS investigation can be emotionally draining, so you need a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer on your side throughout the process. Our Knoxville DCS attorneys can guide you through the complexities of the investigation process while protecting your rights and interests. Time is of the essence – contact us right away for help!