How to Find Out What Your CPS Record Contains
By Jayne Thompson
Updated December 09, 2018
If you have ever been investigated by Child Protection Services, there will be a written record of the case. This is true even if the allegations made against you were unsubstantiated, and CPS took no further action. While state rules differ, you can usually get a partial copy of your record by contacting CPS. The agency keeps records of all reports made to it for several years and sometimes until the youngest child in the family at the time of the investigation reaches adulthood.
Contact Child Protective Services
To get the case record of the investigation against you, you'll have to contact CPS. Different states have varying rules, so start by visiting the website of the Child Protective Services division for your state. You may have to write or email the CPS and request copies of the records the agency has regarding you and your children. In some states, such as Texas and Utah, you'll need to fill out a form requesting copies of your records. Generally, there is no cost for reviewing your records, although you may have to pay a small copying or administrative fee.
Who Can Request Records
You can request CPS records if you were the subject of an investigation or are the legal guardian of a child who was the subject of an investigation. Adults who had a case opened with CPS about them being abused or neglected as children can also request their CPS records. Many states ask that you include copies of your photo identification, such as a driver's license, with your application.
Reports Held in the Central Registry
Some states file reports of child abuse or neglect in a central registry, accessible by law enforcement personnel, government agencies, and other entities that screen persons who might come into contact with children. You can try accessing your record by writing to the central registry and asking if there's a record against you. You'll need to give your name and date of birth, and that of your children, along with a timeline of when the investigation occurred. Be aware that if the official outcome of the investigation was "unfounded" or "no services required," the record may have been sealed, expunged or not placed in the central registry at all.
What Your Record Will Show
It is unlikely that you will get a full copy of the record. Most states strike out or redact from the record any information you are not permitted to access under state and federal laws. Utah, for example, will not release information about the person who reported the suspected abuse or neglect. In Nevada, you'll only receive the CPS summary report and case notes unless you have a court order requiring the entire CPS file. The case record you do receive should summarize the investigation and tell you the reasons why CPS made its decision. Words like "substantiated" or "services required" indicate that CPS found some believable evidence that the report made against you was true.
A former real estate lawyer, Jayne Thompson writes about law, business and corporate communications, drawing on 17 years’ experience in the legal sector. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Birmingham and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London.