CPS Investigation Outcomes: What’s the Process and Duration?

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By Divorce & Finance

CPS investigation outcomes often determine whether the protective services agency closes your case or continues to litigate. Usually, Child Protective Services gets involved when they receive a report of alleged child abuse or neglect. CPS investigations begin soon after a report is made, which are key to determining whether or not the agency removes a child from their home.

Cps investigation outcomes

Let’s dive deeper into the Child Protective Services investigation process to learn timelines and possible outcomes.

What CPS Investigation Outcomes Can You Expect?

The CPS (Child Protective Services) investigation outcomes you can expect depend on the legitimacy of the child abuse or neglect complaint made to the agency, and these outcomes include removing the child, Ruled Out, Unable to Determine, Reason to Believe, Unable to Complete, and Administrative Closure.

If CPS establishes that child abuse or neglect occurred, the child protective agency will most likely remove the child from their home and place them with a close relative or in a foster home.

Other outcomes of the investigation include:

  • Ruled Out (RO): CPS may establish that abuse or neglect didn’t occur as claims were unsubstantiated or the perpetrator of the reported abuse is below the permissible age. In this scenario, the case is closed with no further action taken.
  • Unable to Determine (UTD): The caseworker may establish that the reported abuse occurred but lack enough evidence to support their determination. If CPS establishes that the family needs services, they’ll likely keep the case open for voluntary services (with the parent’s approval).
  • Reason to Believe (RTB): If CPS establishes that neglect or abuse occurred, two things might happen. CPS may decide that it is safe for the child to continue living in their home, but the parents must participate in a safety and case plan. Otherwise, the child’s safety might require the court’s involvement. CPS will place them into protective custody, and the parents will go through a case plan.
  • Unable to Complete: This outcome is assigned when a caseworker cannot complete the investigation.
  • Administrative Closure: This is the outcome when information from the investigation indicates that further probe isn’t warranted.

– Child Protective Services Investigation Timeline

CPS has up to 24 hours or even five days to begin investigating when they receive a child abuse or neglect report. For instance, in the early stages of CPS investigation process, Ohio caseworkers conduct:

  • One-on-one interviews with the supposed child victim, the caretaker, and the supposed perpetrator
  • A home visit
  • Reviewing the alleged perpetrator’s documents, including police reports, medical reports, criminal history, CPS case files, and school reports
  • Interviewing neighbors, relatives, friends, or other parties that closely know the family
  • Evaluation of the child’s safety and future risk of neglect or abuse
  • Evaluation of the family’s wants and strengths

CPS may have 30, 45, or more days to complete their investigation, depending on the state and the circumstances of the case. Investigations may take longer if extenuating factors occur, whose justification they must document. CPS must also notify the involved family of the extension.

What Are the Stages of the CPS Investigation Process?

The stages of the CPS investigation process include interviewing the supposed victim, caretakers, and perpetrators, conducting a home visit, gathering information and documentation, and conducting a risk assessment. CPS is bound to do a thorough investigation when they receive a report of alleged abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

Generally, the stages of CPS investigation process include the following:

– Conduct an Initial Investigation

On receiving a complaint of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, CPS launches an investigation to determine the appropriate response level to assign to the case. Different states will have different priority classifications, but these will generally indicate the seriousness of the case and the need to remove the child from their home due to imminent risk of harm.

Conduct an initial investigation

Depending on the priority classification of a CPS case, a caseworker may conduct an initial home or school visit to talk to the alleged victim of abuse or neglect. The caseworker will also interview the party that gave the report and reach out to other parties that could provide information about the family in question.

– Conduct a Full-on Investigation

After gathering background information about the case, CPS will intensify its investigations to support or refute the abuse or neglect claims. When it comes to the stages of CPS investigation process, MN residents should be aware that a caseworker can show up at your door for a home inspection or to interview the child.

As part of the stages of CPS investigation process, Michigan caseworkers may interview the people close to the family, including the child’s teachers or doctors. They also talk to the child allegedly abused in a forensic interview.

Caseworkers also run a criminal background check of the parents or the party alleged to have abused the child. Most importantly, they determine whether the child is at immediate risk of harm. If the caseworker establishes that the child would be at immediate risk of danger if they remained at home, they recommend that CPS remove the child and place them under the care of a relative, family friend, or foster home.

– Conduct a Risk Assessment

So, what happens after a CPS forensic interview and running a criminal background check of the alleged perpetrator? The caseworker must conduct a risk assessment and give a finding on the risk level before wrapping up the investigation.

After completing the risk assessment, a caseworker may assign the following findings:

  • Risk indicated: When this finding is issued, it means the caseworker has identified risk factors, and the family involved isn’t willing or ready to leverage community and family resources to resolve the risk factors and provide a safe and stable environment for the child.
  • Risk controlled: This finding is issued when the caseworker establishes risk factors, but the family is willing to use available family and community resources to deal with them to guarantee a safe and stable environment for their child.
  • No significant factors: Often, a caseworker concludes the risk assessment and finds that the child isn’t at risk of harm and that there are no factors that may cause risk for the child.

Usually, these outcomes for risk assessment are associated with the Texas CPS investigation timeline, but other states often have similar or close designations for these findings.

– After Investigation

The CPS investigation timeline could see parents or alleged perpetrators wait up to 45 days or more before knowing their fate with the agency. So, one might ask: “How will I know if my CPS investigation is closed?”

After the investigation and risk assessment, the caseworker determines whether or not abuse or neglect occurred. If it didn’t, the case would be closed and the records sealed.

If there is evidence of abuse and future risk of abuse, CPS will create a service plan for the parents or perpetrators to participate. CPS may also remove the child from their home since child protection is their primary aim.


CPS investigation outcomes differ with states and individual cases. In this article, we’ve discussed when you can expect CPS to begin its investigation and the possible outcomes of the investigation, so here are the main things to remember:

  • CPS investigation outcomes may ultimately result in removing a child from their home, or the caseworker may recommend a service plan for the parents without removing the child.
  • CPS will likely open an investigation into a child abuse or neglect report within 24 or 48 hours, but it might take up to 5 days before investigations begin.
  • In most states, CPS investigations involve interviews with the person who makes the report, the alleged victim and perpetrator, and parties close to the family.
  • CPS investigations may also involve medical examinations if the alleged victim has visible signs of injury.

Regardless of the expected outcome, it’s essential that you work with an experienced attorney once CPS opens an investigation for an allegation of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

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