The Indiana Department of Child Services (“DCS”) is tasked with investigating thousands of reports of abuse or neglect of children each year. This agency is literally the protector of children from certain parents. However, perhaps the oldest and most fundamental of constitutional rights is to raise one’s children as he or she sees fits, despite what the state may think otherwise or would do differently.
While DCS has a legal duty to investigate each and every claim in a certain way set forth by statute, including interviewing the child alleged to be in need, this duty does not trump the above-noted constitutional right. So to answer the rhetorical question above, yes you can say “no”, DCS has to obtain parental consent or a court order based on “good cause”.1
This does not necessarily mean denying DCS an interview is wise, prudent, or what is in your children’s best interests. This is very case-specific. If you are faced with this situation, the best course of action is to retain counsel familiar with the complex and opaque workings of the DCS system. By and large, DCS’ is focused on sifting through cases and focusing its resources on children who are truly in harm’s way.
This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle juvenile CHINS (children the product of alleged parental neglect or abuse) and delinquency (child alleged to have committed a crime that but for being a minor, would be charged as an adult),2 which is not the focus of this blog) cases throughout the State.
- Mother v. DCS, 53 N.E.3d 582 (Ind.Ct.App.2016).
- In such cases, a juvenile and his parents are entitled to assert their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and sixth amendment right to counsel.