This is a very complicated question. As a Brooklyn ACS Attorney that has represented clients for over 18 years I can say that you do not have to let ACS in without a court order. However, if you do not let them in it can trigger a course of circumstances that you need to be ready for.
If ACS has started an investigation against you the case will last 60 days. During the 60 days, ACS will visit your home twice a month. If you have a younger child they may visit you every week.
If you do not let ACS in, they will have to seek a court order to have your children produced. If they believe your children are in imminent risk of harm they can file a request to have the children removed by court order. If the Court believes this, it may do an Order to remove the children. In a situation where ACS feels the children may be in imminent risk of harm, letting an ACS worker into your home to prove that the children are safe may be worth your while. By doing this, you may avoid a removal application to the court. If your situation is different, meaning that you know that the charges are false and that you feel that you’re being harassed by ACS maybe it would be wise to force ACS to go get a court order to have the children produced. In this situation a judge can decide if there is enough evidence to order a production of the children forcing you to cooperate with ACS. I often advise parents who tell me that the charges are absolutely false and who feel that letting ACS in the home is harassment to force ACS to get a court order to get in. I also advise you to hire an experienced New York City ACS defense attorney like myself if an investigation has been commenced.
You will most likely not have enough time to call me if ACS is knocking on your door right now. If you choose let them in, I advise you to call me right away after the visit so you can give me an update on what happened during the initial investigation and know your legal options.
Once ACS starts an investigation against you your case can take two courses. The first course is an administrative ACS case. The second course is a court case.
If ACS chooses not to take this case to court, your case will last 60 days and they will visit you, as stated above, at least two times a month. Once ACS opens a case against you, you are entitled to receive a letter notifying you that the case has been open. This letter should contain the case ID number. After the 60 days has expired, you should receive a second letter stating whether your case is unfounded or substantiated (indicated). ACS may also offer you preventative services which you have the option to agree to or deny. If your case is indicated, then you have 90 days to appeal. I have successfully appealed multiple ACS cases and if you are faced with the fee appeal in your case please give me a call at 718-864-2011.
If ACS chooses to take your case to court, they will first refer the case to the ACS agency attorney. That agency attorney will make a decision about whether or not the case should be filed. If they decide the case should be filed, you should receive a petition uprising you of the charges against you after it’s filled.
If ACS determines that the children are in imminent risk of injury they may also seek a court order removing the children. You have a right to an immediate hearing for the return of the children to your care of your children are removed. This is called a 1028 hearing. You have to choose the best time to file a 1028 hearing because you only have one chance to do it. Most parents want to do it right away, however in some circumstances the time may not really be right to do it because the parent needs to take more actions to prove to the court that they are fit and that the child is not in danger. In some circumstances it may be right to ask for a 1028 right away especially if the evidence is on your side. My Brooklyn, New York ACS Firm has won multiple 1028 hearings for the immediate return of children to their parents home.
So to answer the question as to whether or not you should allow ACS in your home when they knock on your door, my only response is that you should be aware of what can happen if you don’t let them in which I explained above. Every situation is different and you have to be honest with yourself about what they are alleging before you make that decision. Sometimes it’s best to let them in to stop from things escalating. Sometimes it’s best not to let them in and force them to do more work to get into your home. Please give me a call at 718-864-2011 so I can evaluate your case and give you advice on how to deal with your ACS situation.