It can be INCREDIBLY frustrating and overwhelming to find the Department of Children and Families (DCF) along with the Broward Sheriff's Office's Child Protective Investigative Section (BSO's CPIS) investigating you and your family, and even questioning your children. Most times you may not even know what to do or if you need to answer their questions. These are the beginning steps of a dependency proceeding.
As a brief explanation, when someone calls the Child Abuse Hotline, which is run by DCF, either a Child Advocate (CA) from DCF or an investigator from CPIS (or both) will be assigned to your case and begin their investigation. CPIS is a unit in BSO which is specifically designed and trained to look into allegations of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or failure to protect a child. If the police are called out to investigate an incident and children are present, that will also trigger CPIS to investigate. These investigations are the basis for filing a dependency petition against one or both parents.
It's difficult to give general advice on whether or not you should cooperate with CPIS. It really depends on your specific situation, the surrounding circumstances, and what exactly they are asking you to do. However, there are two important things to keep in mind. First of all, during a preliminary investigation, there is nothing requiring you to comply with these requests and therefore you do not need to cooperate. Second, your cooperation (or lack thereof!) will all be used to determine whether or not they will file a dependency petition against you. ANY and ALL information you choose to give DCF and CPIS can and will be used against you. Some information you wish to provide them may seem innocent but actually turn out to be the very information they need to file a petition against you.
It is very important to speak to an attorney immediately once CPIS or DCF begin an investigation in your family. Contact our firm for a free consultation. Hiring an attorney can be costly but at Solaris Law Group we do our best to be flexible and even provide payment plans. It is CRUCIAL to hire a private attorney for your dependency matter and we are very familiar with the dependency system.