Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmastime. Reading the Christmas story, as a parent defense lawyer I thought, “What if Mary and Joseph had to deal with Children’s Protective Services?” If you are unfamiliar with the account, you can read it in the Bible by clicking HERE. Imagine with me if it were today and Jesus’ family had to deal with a false report to CPS.
The first thing you may notice is that Mary and Joseph were not well-to-do. Sadly, the unspoken bias of some CPS workers is that something must be wrong because the family is poor. After all, they are staying in a stable with a newborn baby. Joseph answers a knock at the door, not to find shepherds but a Children’s Protective Services investigator. Possibly even with a police officer in tow. The report has been received of a baby in a manger and they are doing a well-child check. Asking if they can come in, Joseph faces the dilemma of many families today: Do I let them in or not?
If the CPS worker has an emergency pick-up order, Joseph must let them in. There is no choice. But let’s say there is no court order. By law, when CPS receives a report with any apparent substance, they must investigate. It is up to Mary and Joseph whether they cooperate. If they do not, there is the possibility the case will end up in Court. But at this stage we don’t know. A well-child check is supposed to be just that. Children’s Protective Services is looking to make sure the child is in a safe environment. So, Mary and Joseph decide to let CPS in the door. After all, they have the Savior of the world present in the form of a tiny baby.
Once inside, the CPS worker looks around. There is a manger with a baby in it. This much of the report is true. But the baby appears healthy and properly wrapped in swaddling clothes. A manger might not be an ideal bed, but it is safe, the straw is clean and so is the rest of the stable. This should be the end of the visit. One would hope that the CPS worker is satisfied and closes the case. After that, Mary and Joseph should request the file in case there are any future issues with CPS. Jesus stays in the loving care of His earthly parents.
Today, a CPS worker doing a well-child check would want to see the child and the sleeping arrangements; making sure the child is properly clothed, the house is clean and there is enough food in the refrigerator. There should also be no evidence of drug use, child abuse, or other criminal activity. In an ideal world, this would be the end of the investigation. However, we are dealing with CPS here and it is not an ideal world. If you are concerned about Michigan CPS involvement in your family, the attorneys at Cronkright Law are ready and willing to speak with you today. Contact us by phone (517) 881-4643 or email right away.