The following are the top six ways child protection workers deprive families of their rights under the color of law.
1. “Do you know why I'm here?”
The child protection worker will ask this, not because they want to have a friendly chat or help you, but because they are hoping you will “voluntarily” say something that will allow them to keep your file open.
They are not there to serve you or help you; the worker is there fishing for an excuse to coerce you into signing a service agreement or get a supervision order. In asking you the familiar question, they are essentially asking you what form of abuse or neglect your inflicting on your child and they will do this without giving you any legal warning because they are not required by law to do so.
2. “Do you have something to hide?”
Child protection workers often talk as if you need a good reason for not answering whatever questions they ask, or for not consenting to a warrantless search of your home. The ridiculous implication is that if you haven’t committed some form of abuse or neglect against your child, you should be happy to be subjected to random interrogations and searches. This turns the concept of due process on its head, as the child protection worker puts the burden on you to prove your innocence, while implying that your failure to “cooperate” with random harassment must be evidence of guilt.
3. “Cooperating will make things easier on you.” (child protection workers and your very own legal aid lawyers will both try this one to get you to sign consents and service agreement)
The logical converse of this statement implies that refusing to answer questions and refusing to consent to a search will make things more difficult for you. In other words, you will be punished if you exercise your rights. Of course, if they coerce you into giving them a reason to keep a file open or apprehend your children, they will claim that you “voluntarily” answered questions and “consented” to a search, and will pretend there was no veiled threat of what they might do to you if you did not willingly “cooperate.”
4. “We’ll just get a court order.”
Child protection workers may try to persuade you to “consent” to a search by claiming that they could easily just go get a court order if you don’t consent. This is just another ploy to intimidate people into surrendering their rights, with the implication again being that whoever inconveniences the children's aid society by requiring them to go through the process of getting a court order will receive worse treatment than one who “cooperate.” But by definition, one who is threatened or intimidated into “consenting” has not truly consented to anything and is one very good reason to record and document for legal purposes everything they say and do.
5. "I'd like to talk to you in person."
This is an excuse to randomly harass and "observe" (avoiding leaving a paper trail) your family and your home for documentation without a valid reason. Should you prefer to communicate with the child protection worker by telephone or e-mail see, be prepared for #2 and #3 on the list above.
6. "Would you mind signing a consent form?"
The worker will tell you signing the consent form to speak with children's doctor, teachers and anyone else involved with your children will make it easier and faster for them to close your file but what it really does is allow them to expand the investigation without having to show a judge their reasonable grounds. This is called a fishing trip. The worker is hoping doctor, teachers and anyone else involved with your children will say something that will allow them to keep your file open. If the worker has reasonable grounds to expand the investigation, the worker will show them to a judge without any need to harass the parents into consenting to it.