Seven Avoidable Legal Mistakes CPS Investigators Make

Seven attorneys give their observations and understandings of the avoidable legal missteps that child protective services investigators take:

  1. CPS interviewers sometimes view a child’s anti-social or hurtful behavior as evidence that the child is not a trustworthy reporter of abuse.
  2. Assuming that the CPS investigator will be allowed to testify in place of the child at a criminal trial is an avoidable legal mistake.
  3. Even though CPS investigators are invariably well-meaning, they tend to form an opinion quickly as they investigate a case and to neglect alternative explanations and motives to fabricate.
  4. One avoidable mistake CPS investigators make is harboring unintended bias, particularly in the sense that investigators may have a tendency to be less than objective due to a prior relationship.
  5. Despite the obvious potential for civil or criminal litigation, investigators often prepare reports that summarize witness accounts rather than obtain verbatim recorded statements.
  6. Too often CPS investigators do not take into account contextual information or actually investigate to find collateral witnesses.
  7. The problem with assigning a caseworker to investigate child abuse is that a caseworker has a conflict of interest.

This article originally appeared in Policy & Practice, August 2015.

[gview file=””]

1 Reply to "Seven Avoidable Legal Mistakes CPS Investigators Make"

  • Dean Tong
    August 31, 2015 (7:28 am)

    Part of what Dr. Pollack is referring to here is CPS fails to conduct proper source monitoring, or event memory cross-checking and a thorough and objective case investigation. It’s what I call the 1S/1S Theory; meaning CPS has 1 Scenario on how the event purportedly happened and 1 Suspect on who perpetrated the alleged abuse. Thank you Dr. Pollack for illuminating the public to your study on CPS’ handling of case investigations.