There are a lot of factors that come into play when CPS shows up at a family’s front door and decides those kids are at risk and need to be removed. Some of them are probably pretty obvious – a child who is severely malnourished to the point that their bones are clearly visible, or a child that’s locked in a closet or tied to a bed are obvious choices.
However very few CPS cases are that clear cut. In most cases the factors that CPS considers when trying to decide if a child is at risk are more subtle. And it often has to do with multiple factors coming into play at the same time. Not sure what we mean? Here’s an example.
Lice can play a role in getting kids taken from their families.
Yes, that sounds ridiculous, we know. After all, lice is extremely easily spread, and most kids get lice from school mates or friends at some point of another. It certainly isn’t a sign of neglect in 99% of cases. However lice is one of those issues that gets worse with time, if it isn’t caught early and managed. Which means that kids with severe cases of lice are often kids whose infestations have gone untreated for months.
And as far as CPS is concerned, that’s a child whose parents are not taking care of them properly. In other words: child neglect. So as you can see, it isn’t the lice that causes an issue all by itself, it’s the severity of the lice, which is used as an indicator of how well cared for a child is.
Clothing that’s appropriate for the season can also play a role…
The same goes for seasonally appropriate clothing. Any parent whose ever had a strong-willed child knows how challenging it can be to get your kid to wear a hat in the winter if they hate hats, or wear snow pants if the other kids at school have made fun of them for the pattern on their snow pants. But there’s a difference between a kid who shows up to school with a coat and gloves but no hat on a freezing winter day, and a kid who shows up with no coat, summer shoes, and a t-shirt that’s three sizes too small.
Especially when that child shows up day after day, without the right clothes to keep them warm, and they seem cold. It can lead teachers and other adults to believe that this is a kid whose parents aren’t providing them with the clothes they need to stay warm in winter (or cool in summer – as kids who always wear long pants and long sleeved shirts on hot days can raise the same red flags.)
Neglect doesn’t have to be severe for CPS to step in and take kids away.
People often think of child neglect as being cases where children are left alone for days to fend for themselves, or situations where young kids are left alone to care for even younger kids without the resources or oversight they would need to stay safe. But neglect doesn’t have to be that extreme to result in CPS intervention. A child who is often unwashed, poorly dressed for the weather, hungry, or has health concerns that appear to go untreated will likely be reported.
Join us next time for a look at more scenarios that can result in CPS stepping in and breaking up families. Until then, if you’ve been accused of neglecting or abusing a child here in Michigan, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and talk to one of our skilled and experienced CPS defense attorneys. We’re on call 24/7 to help parents defend their children, and protect their rights to parent as they see fit.