How To Handle A DCS Investigation.

Season 4, Episode 35- The Honestly Speaking Parenting Podcast.

It’s a reality that most foster parents will face on the journey- an accusation, report, or full-blown investigation from the department of child services. While it’s scary, there are a few key ways to navigate these tricky waters.


We’ve been through this a few times and it’s always uncomfortable and downright sickening. In fact, some would say terrifying. But, believe it or not, it’s not the end of the world. You can, and will, survive if you follow some key steps, show respect to the investigators, and handle yourself well. We outline all of this in today’s episode…

Listen To The Episode.


Notes and Quotes from the Show.

During the show, we talked through 4 key steps you can take if, or when, you’re investigated or accused of something as a foster parent. Here’s a recap of the 4 steps…

  1. Document everything!
  2. Remember: they have your child’s best interest in mind.
  3. Be proactive- make a safety plan.
  4. Do everything they tell you to do!

Question: Have you been through a DCS investigation? Share your story with us in the comment section below… You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Allisonm

    Really good advice on a painful subject. There is little that stings worse than someone suggesting that you mistreat children. We have never been investigated by DCS, so far, but when the county prosecutor’s office called after one of my adopted son’s school meltdowns, I was so glad to have a huge paper trail documenting all of the interventions and services we already had in place. That kept us from being court-ordered to do anything because they had no additional actions to recommend. When I worked in the child-welfare system, I heard allegations almost daily. As you said, it helps to remember that the people making the reports care about the children and are typically motivated by things like honest concern, not wanting to run afoul of mandatory reporting laws, and being afraid that the child really is being harmed and is falling through the safety net because everything looks good on the outside. Even those of the child’s parents and relatives who are reporting every little thing do care about the child, even if they are also motivated by the sting of being accused of being unfit to parent the child themselves.

    • So glad it resonated with you Allison. Yes, it’s a painful experience for sure, but survivable. 😉

  • Susan Thalhofer

    Oh, this brought back SO many memories. Our adopted daughter started self-harming, threatening suicide, etc. and decided that if she just lived somewhere else everything would be great. In her past-trauma pain, she lashed out at us. So, EVERY new case worker was given a sob story of abuse or mistreatment by us. Even when she was in a mental health facility, she managed to instigate 5 CPS investigations against us in one year’s time. We were warned she’d go to the nth degree, and she finally did, by hinting of sexual abuse also.
    To add even more angst, my husband is a police officer. So, our livelihood was on the line. I should say there was a little irony at times. Once, we were going home from the mental facility visit and my husband stopped by the station a minute. A fellow officer said, “Look what just came up on report!” She had reported me, so I knew a case worker would likely stop by, unannounced, the next morning. Another time my husband was on duty and a call came in. He had to tell his partner, “You take this one, it’s at my house.”
    It was a pain, but we asked our friends to pray that the truth was evident and we weathered the storms. Now, we even have a few stories (that didn’t seem that funny then) to tell now.

    • Hey Susan, so glad this story worked out in the end (from the sound of it). When you look back you can chuckle at the unbelievable things you go through. At the time, though, it’s not funny at all …. 🙂 🙂

      • Susan Thalhofer

        Well, I don’t think we are at the chuckling stage yet, it’s all quite sad, isn’t it? We happened to be the present recipients of the pain of her past. It had to go somewhere. We ended up getting an attorney and having an ugly legal battle with DSHS who wanted us to pay for her foster care because she refused to come home. In God’s grace, we were able to attain a termination of her adoption. We reached a point where her pain and anger couldn’t be the complete focus of our home and we had to stop the abuse she was causing us. I think I learned the term Secondary Trauma from you, it’s a real thing. We have a boat-load of mixed feelings over it all, of course.

        • We totally understand this. Hang in there.