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Discover the best strategies for handling Child Protective Services interviews with your child at their school, including legal rights and empowering tips for parents.

Can CPS Interview Your Child at His/Her School?

It depends. Generally, CPS cannot interview your child at their school.  However, three exceptions apply.  

Child Protective Services (CPS) may conduct interviews with your child at their school as part of their investigation process if one of the following exceptions applies:

  1. A parent has given CPS consent to interview the child at school.
  2. CPS has a obtained a Court Order, allowing CPS to interview the child at school
  3. Exigent circumstances exist.
  4. If none of the above apply, CPS may conduct a brief interview with the child if there is a reasonable suspicion of child abuse of the child being interviewed, or a sibling of the child being interviewed.

Parental Consent

CPS may interview a child at school, if a parent with legal custody of the child provides consent for the interview to be conducted at school.  

If one parent does not have legal custody of the child, the consent of that parent is not enough to meet this requirement.

If a parent gives consent once, that does not give CPS the ability to repeatedly interview the minor. The consent is only good for the specific interview request at that time and place.

Additionally, parental consent must not be obtained through threat, coercion, or undue influence.

The parent may also state the terms in which the interview can take place (for example, during morning recess, with Ms. Jackson present, for less than 20 minutes). Parental consent may have limitation which should be respected.

Law enforcement cannot be present unless the parent has also given permission for law enforcement to be present.

Court Order

For this requirement, CPS must have attained a valid Court Order prior to conducting the interview. If CPS is in the interview, CPS must have an Order giving CPS permission to conduct the interview.  If law enforcement has an Order, the Order does not necessarily apply to CPS.

Exigent Circumstance

An exigent circumstance is a circumstance where there is reasonable cause to believe the child would likely experience serious bodily harm or other abuse in the time it would take to obtain a court order, attain parental consent and the terms of the terms of the brief interview cannot be met.

In this instance, law enforcement may be present. 

Brief Interview

In this instance, CPS may only conduct an interview if there is reasonable suspicion that the child or a sibling of the child is a victim of abuse or at significant risk of abuse. The brief interview should be “brief”, which should be as short as possibly to attain key information, but should generally be less than 30 minutes long. Law enforcement may not be present during the brief interview.

Additionally, several safeguards must be in place, to satisfy the requirements of the brief interview:

  • The interview must be conducted in a neutral setting.
  • The child must be given the opportunity to have a teacher or other school administrator be present for the interview.
  • The child must be told that it is ok if s/he does not answer the questions.
  • The child must be told that if s/he does answer some questions, not all need to be answered and the child can decide to stop providing answers at any time.
  • The child must be told that s/he is free to leave the interview and interview room at any time.
  • The interview must be conducted in a manner consistent with the child’s age and abilities (for example, if a ten year old has autism, the interview should be very different than an interview for a ten year old without autism). Age and ability must be considered.


When an Interview is Conducted

These interviews are typically conducted when there are concerns about the child’s safety or well-being. It is important to understand the purpose of these interviews and how they may impact your child’s experience.

During these interviews, a CPS worker will speak with your child to gather information about their living situation, any possible abuse or neglect, and their overall well-being. The interviews are conducted in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner to ensure the child feels comfortable and safe.

It is crucial for parents to understand that these interviews are a part of the CPS investigation process and are not meant to be punitive towards the child or the parent. The goal is to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. By understanding the purpose and process of these interviews, parents can better navigate the situation and support their child.

Legal Rights and Regulations

As a parent, you have legal rights when it comes to CPS interviews at school. It is important to be aware of these rights to protect yourself and your child throughout the process. Some of the legal rights and regulations related to CPS interviews at school include:

  1. Right to be informed: You have the right to be informed about the CPS investigation and any interviews conducted with your child.
  2. Right to be present: In most cases, parents have the right to be present during the CPS interview at school. This allows you to support your child and ensure their best interests are being considered.
  3. Right to legal representation: You have the right to consult with an attorney and have legal representation during the CPS investigation process, including any interviews conducted at school.
  4. Right to privacy: Your child’s privacy should be protected during the interview. CPS should ensure that the interview is conducted in a private and confidential setting.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific legal rights and regulations in your jurisdiction, as they may vary. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in family law can help you understand your rights and navigate the CPS interview process more effectively.

Preparing Yourself and Your Child

Facing a CPS interview at school can be stressful for both parents and children. However, if you have agreed to CPS interviewing your child, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your child for the interview:

  1. Stay calm: It is important to remain calm and composed when discussing the interview with your child. This will help them feel more at ease and ensure open communication.
  2. Explain the process: Take the time to explain to your child what the interview will entail and why it is happening. Use age-appropriate language. Do not coach the child as to what to say, but you may stress the importance of telling the truth.
  3. Reassure your child: Let your child know that you are there to support them and that the purpose of the interview is to ensure their safety and well-being. Reassure your child that they are not in trouble and did nothing wrong.

By taking these steps, you can help alleviate some of the anxiety your child may feel and ensure they are prepared and as comfortable as possible for the CPS interview at school.

Communicating with School Officials

Open and effective communication with school officials is essential when dealing with CPS interviews at school. If you have agreed for CPS to interview your child at school, let the school know as soon as possible.  Clearly communicate all details (such as, if you have agreed for law enforcement to also be present). Here are some tips for communicating with school officials:

  1. Notify the school: Inform the school about the CPS investigation and the possibility of an interview taking place. This will allow them to coordinate with CPS and make appropriate arrangements.
  2. Request to be present: Exercise your right to be present during the CPS interview at school. Communicate this request to both CPS and the school to ensure your presence is accommodated.
  3. Share relevant information: Provide any relevant information to the school officials that may assist them in the interview being conducted in the matter you have agreed upon. This can include details about a specific time of interview (for example, after water polo practice), who must be present (for example, Father must be present), who may be present or who may not be present (for example, if Coach Roberts is available, she may be present, however Coach Nicols is not to be present), and the location of the interview (for example, Coach Robert’s Office).
  4. Maintain open communication: Keep the lines of communication open with school officials throughout the process. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together to support your child. Provide your cell phone number and request you are called if any details change or if CPS contests any of the details you provided.

Remember, school officials are there to support your child’s well-being. By maintaining open communication, you can work together to navigate the CPS interview process more effectively.

Communicating with CPS

Effective communication with Child Protective Services is crucial.

Here are some tips for communicating with CPS:

  1. Know Your Rights: Before you choose to speak with CPS, know your rights. Consult an attorney.
  2. Ask for clarification: If you have any questions or concerns about the interview or the investigation, don’t hesitate to ask CPS for clarification. Understanding the process will help you better navigate it. If there are terms you do not understand, ask for clarification before answering. Make sure you understand each question clearly, before responding.
  3. Keep a written record: Maintain a written record of all communication with CPS, including dates, times, and the names of the individuals you speak with along with their contact details. Your record should be recorded as close in time to each communication as possible, to ensure the upmost accuracy. This can be helpful for reference and documentation purposes.
  4. Express that the concerns are important: Listen to the concerns closely and carefully. Let CPS know that the concerns are important to you and that your child’s health and safety is also important to you. Advocate for your child’s best interest and show that you are keeping your child safe.

By maintaining open and respectful communication with CPS, you can ensure that your voice is heard and that your child’s well-being remains the priority throughout the process.

Seeking Legal Advice and Support

Seeking legal advice and support is essential when dealing with CPS interviews at school. Here are some reasons why consulting with an attorney can be beneficial:

  1. Understanding your rights: An attorney specializing in juvenile dependency law can help you understand your legal rights and navigate the CPS interview process more effectively.
  2. Providing guidance: An attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the investigation, ensuring that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your child. An attorney can also assist you with helpful terminology and insights as to questions that may be asked.
  3. Representing your interests: If necessary, an attorney can represent your interests during the CPS interview and any subsequent legal proceedings. They can ensure that your voice is heard and that your rights are protected.
  4. Exploring options: An attorney can help you explore all available options and strategies to resolve the CPS investigation in the best possible way for you and your child. It may not be in your best interest to speak to CPS.


By seeking competent legal advice and representation, you will navigate the CPS process with clarity and confidence to ensure your rights and interests are protected.


The attorneys at Minella Law Group are skilled in new or existing cases involving child welfare / CPS.  Please call our family law office today to schedule a complimentary consult with one of our attorneys.   619.289.7948

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