A child abuse or neglect accusation is serious. People accused of child abuse or neglect may have difficulty rebuilding their lives after the investigation is over. There are many long-term consequences of abuse & neglect cases that could affect future employment and family planning decisions.
If you’re under investigation for abuse or neglect by New York Child Protective Services (CPS), you need skilled and knowledgeable counsel to represent you. Without representation, you risk having the State interfere with your family and being named on New York State’s Central Register for many years.
The Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, has represented families, foster parents, teachers, and childcare professionals in CPS cases. Below, our trusted attorney describes the possible consequences of abuse & neglect according to CPS.
What Is CPS?
New York’s Child Protective Services Act established child protective services agencies in each of New York’s counties to safeguard children throughout the state. These agencies investigate child abuse and neglect reports in their respective counties. In New York City, that agency is the New York City Administration of Children’s Services (ACS).
The Child Protective Services Act also created a hotline to report suspected child abuse or neglect. It also created the New York State Central Register, which lists all individuals named in a report of abuse or neglect. This list includes people accused of abuse or neglect during an investigation, and those with indicated reports, meaning CPS found some credible evidence of the accusation. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services maintains the hotline and Central Register.
Child Abuse and Neglect
It’s important to understand New York’s definition of child abuse and neglect if your family is involved in an ACS investigation.
Child Abuse Defined
Child abuse is defined as the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment of a child under the age of 18. Child abuse can also include failing to provide proper care and supervision or exposing a child to domestic violence. The State can level accusations of abuse against parents, caregivers, and individuals in a position of trust or authority over the child.
Child neglect is defined as the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. This includes the failure to provide the following:
Mental healthcare, or
Neglect can also include the failure to provide proper supervision, exposing a child to danger, and failing to protect a child from abuse or neglect by others. Child neglect can also include abandonment or leaving the child alone for significant periods.
Long-Term Consequences of Abuse & Neglect
There’s no question that children who’ve experienced abuse or neglect often suffer both short and long-term emotional and physical harm. Some of the long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect can include the following:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
Anxiety and depression;
Physical health problems like chronic pain and gastrointestinal issues;
Substance abuse problems;
Difficulty forming relationships; and
Difficulty with academic and career success.
This is not a comprehensive list of the potential effects of abuse or neglect. Each person’s long-term consequences may differ.
Long-Term Consequences for Those Accused in CPS Cases
There is no doubt that accusations of child abuse and neglect have long-lasting negative effects. However, it’s important to note that when CPS or ACS investigates, they’ve only received an accusation—usually with no accompanying evidence. ACS doesn’t need much evidence to “indicate” or substantiate an accusation. Nonetheless, the effects on the accused are significant.
Effects of Open Abuse or Neglect Accusation
CPS opens a report, and ACS begins an investigation when they receive an abuse or neglect accusation. If you work for an employer that helps children and other vulnerable populations, CPS might notify your employer of the open investigation. While your case is open and under investigation, the accusation could impact your ability to work and pay your bills.
Effects of an Indicated Abuse or Neglect Report
At the end of an ACS investigation, ACS decides whether the accusation is unfounded or indicated. If it’s unfounded, your case will be closed and sealed.
The Standard for Indicating a Case
If the report against you is indicated, ACS found evidence supporting the accusation. The standard ACS must use to indicate a report is the “fair preponderance of the evidence.” This means that more evidence exists showing that the allegations are true than untrue. This standard only went into effect in January 2022. Before January 2022, ACS would indicate a case if they found “some credible evidence,” which was a much lower standard.
ACS doesn’t have to go before a judge to indicate a report of abuse or neglect. They make these decisions on their own with little judicial oversight.
Effects of an Indicated Case
If you receive an indicated neglect report, your name will be on the Central Register for eight years. If you receive an indicated report of abuse, your name remains on the Central Register until 10 years after the youngest child named in the report turns 18.
Having your name on the Central Register greatly limits your job opportunities. Certain agencies are required to check whether a prospective employee is on the Central Register. These agencies work with children, adults with developmental disabilities, and foster care or adoption agencies. These types of agencies may not hire you once they see your name on the list. Other companies might also check the register as part of their hiring process.
Additionally, this may affect your future family plans if you want to foster or adopt a child. Foster and adoption agencies also check the Central Register.
How to Fight the Impact of an Accusation or Report
You can challenge an indicated report. Once you receive the letter indicating the report of abuse, you must act quickly to appeal the finding. You should contact an attorney immediately to help you fight your case.
Also, people indicated in past reports can now request to have their names removed from the Central Register. They must demonstrate that their past behavior no longer affects their ability to work with vulnerable populations. This is a relatively new procedure, so you should speak with an attorney to discuss this option.
Contact Our Trusted Legal Team Today
As you can see, there are long-term consequences of abuse & neglect accusations, even if they’re ultimately unfounded. You need an experienced advocate, like the Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, to help. We’ve fought on behalf of families in ACS investigations and have represented individuals in their appeals from indicated reports of abuse or neglect. Contact us today.