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Your rights when the Department of Children's Services arrives

If you're accused of domestic assault or violence, the Department of Children's Services (DCS) may come to your home. What rights do you have if this happens?

If someone has reported abuse or neglect, DCS must investigate the claim by law, even if it's obviously false. The investigator should tell you your rights on arrival and share the information they have on the allegations you face. At that point, you may wish to speak with your attorney, because there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

One thing some people don't realize is that DCS is able to interview your child at school without your permission. If your child needs to go through a forensic interview, he or she may need to go to a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) for the appropriate tests. These tests are performed by medical professionals.

The Department of Child Services needs to determine if your child is in danger. If the danger is immediate, DCS can take your child immediately into its custody. If there is no immediate risk recognized after the interviews and testing, then your family may be offered services to support you. In the case that there is no immediate risk to your child, the case is likely to be closed.

If you have DCS come to your home or find out it has come to your child's school, your attorney can help advise you on what to do next. These are serious allegations that could end up making it hard for you to see your child. If your child is taken away, he or she could end up in foster care.

Source: Tennessee Department of Children's Services, "Your Client's Rights," accessed May 16, 2017

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