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Family Law Blog

How Long Does a CYS Investigation Take?

Published: Sep 15, 2017 in CPS Investigations

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

A Pennsylvania Office of Children, Youth and Family Services (CYS), often called Child Protective Services (CPS), investigation begins when social services or the police receive a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. This report may come from a mandatory reporter or anyone else who believes a child is being abused or neglected at home, school, day care, or anywhere else the child receives care. After a report is made, Pennsylvania law requires authorities begin an investigation right away, which is typically within 24 hours. Depending on what CYS investigators find in the month following the initial report, they may close or open a case. If they open a CYS case, you could be dealing with social services for at least a year.

To learn more about the CYS investigation process and your rights as a parent, call our Pittsburgh CYS lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (412) 471-5100 right away.

The Initial Inquiry by Pennsylvania CYS

When CYS receives a report of potential child abuse or neglect, action is immediately taken. An investigation is opened within one day of the report, and the child is visited within 72 hours. Whether authorities visit the child immediately or wait for some time depends on the specific allegations.

At the initial visit, CYS personnel are looking to see if the child is safe and whether their needs are being met. If it is an emergency, CYS personnel or local law enforcement may remove the child from the home immediately and then seek a court order approving the removal. If the child is not in imminent danger yet there are signs of abuse or neglect, CYS may go to court to obtain an order to remove the child from the home as soon as possible.

Whether or not the child is quickly removed from the home, CYS personnel will continue their initial investigation. This involves observing the environment where the suspected abuse or neglect took place, and interviewing the parents, family members, teachers or day care providers, and other relevant individuals. These interviews may take place at a person’s home or office, at a CYS location, or at a police station.

How Long a Pennsylvania CYS Investigation Takes

CYS’ initial inquiry typically takes place within 30 days following a report of child abuse or neglect. Through the investigation, Social Services will determine whether the allegations were founded or unfounded. This can lead to CYS:

  • Opening a Protective Services’ case
  • Closing the case and referring you to community service providers
  • Closing the case entirely

Social Services is not required to complete an investigation within 30 days. However, CYS must conduct an investigation and complete it in a timely manner. If it cannot make a determination within 30 days, it must document the specific reasons why, and then complete the investigation within 60 days.

If you are being investigated by CYS and it has been more than a month without a determination of whether Social Services is going to open or close the case, contact our CYS investigation lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC right away. Findings can be delayed for legitimate reasons. However, CYS is not entitled to drag out an investigation. If CYS does not file a determination within 60 days, the initial report is deemed unfounded.

If Pennsylvania CYS Opens a Case

If CYS’ initial investigation determines the allegations of abuse or neglect were valid, then you can expect to work with Social Services for at least a year to resolve the issues. Your child may be removed from your home at this time, or they may be allowed to stay as long as you create and follow a plan with Social Services that shows how you will properly care for and keep your child safe. Whether your child is removed from your home or not, you may be required to complete parenting classes, anger management classes, alcohol or drug treatment, or therapy.

Contact a Pittsburgh CYS Attorneys for Help

If CYS shows up at your home and informs you they have received a report of child abuse or neglect, contact an experienced CYS lawyer from Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC immediately. The best way to protect your parental rights and your child’s well-being is to have an attorney on your side. While CYS is required to inform you of your rights and responsibilities, they are under no obligation to provide additional explanations or proactively preserve your rights. At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we do both.

Contact us online or call (412) 471-5100 to schedule your initial confidential consultation.