Even the very best parents can be the recipients of an unwanted visit from DHR. If this has happened to you, you may have been subjected to any number of threats that made you fear for the safety and stability of your child. Millions of children are abused in foster care every year, and we have all heard about heartbreaking cases of parents having their children removed and placed into the foster system for no good reason. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem, and if a DHR caseworker has knocked on your door, you may be understandably upset, scared, and confused. While it can be alarming to be told if you question someone’s authority they may take your child away and strip you of your rights, there are steps you can take to diffuse the situation before it escalates and ends in tragedy.
What Should You Do When DHR Shows Up?
Although child abuse is a very real and serious problem, millions of good and loving parents have been investigated by DHR without any evidence of abuse outside of allegations that could have been made by anyone and for any reason, including spite for imagined slights. If a DHR worker shows up at your house, take their visit seriously, but be sure to remain calm. Although your anger and fear may be justified, any acknowledgement of it can be taken as an act of hostility and used against you. Unless they have a warrant, you are not obligated to let a case worker into your house. However refusing them may make them more determined than ever to remove your child.
Do You Need an Attorney?
It is advisable for you to secure the services of an attorney who has experience not just complying with, but actively fighting against, DHR. It would be extremely expensive to have an attorney present every time you communicated with a social worker, but a lawyer will at the very least be able to provide you with guidelines and legal advice that can greatly reduce your chances of having your child removed from your home. It is best to keep your communication with the worker to the bare minimum, and whatever you do, even if you know you are innocent and are merely trying to explain, never say anything that could incriminate you.
Do You Have to Let Them Speak to Your Child?
DHR does not need your permission to speak to your child. They can legally interview your son or daughter at school or in another public place without your child, so it is best to teach your child to refuse to speak to any strangers including DHR caseworkers. If you refuse to cooperate they will make a note of it, and that alone could be used as “evidence” against you. To reduce your risk of having a worker claim that you refused to let them see your child in order to hide evidence of injuries, show your child or children to the worker through the window only, but do not open the door for them.
How DHR Benefits from Removing Your Child
DHR caseworkers believe they are doing what is best for the child, but their tendency to believe accusations without any evidence is far from being in children’s best interests. If these workers ran out of children to remove, their job security would be in jeopardy. The more children they take in, the more federal funding they receive, and the better they look in their own boss’s eyes. While these workers may seem friendly and helpful at first, once they have the information they are looking for they may quickly turn on you. Once they have grounds to remove your child, it can be very difficult—if not impossible—to regain custody. If DHR knows on your door, protect yourself and your children by making sure you know your rights.