Department of Child Safety Central Registry
The Central Registry is a state-wide database listing who has substantiated reports of abuse or neglect to a child or vulnerable adult. This does not include mere investigations or unsubstantiated allegations. Each person has been provided notice of the allegation, the opportunity to disprove it, and the right to a hearing. Sadly, the burden of proof is so low that if DCS believes the incident occurred, the allegation can be substantiated with little or no evidence, no criminal charge, and no actual harm occurring to a child or vulnerable adult.
Once a person is listed on the registry, they remain there for twenty-five years. Yes, 25 years! This important thing to take from this article is to not get listed on the registry. The second most important thing is to put a plan in place now on who is qualified to care for your children in the event of a removal. You will need to provide their name, address, and social security number.
If you are facing an allegation, take it seriously. Reach out to an attorney and learn your rights before speaking to an investigator. If they are at your door, you can step outside to talk. You do not need to invite them in. DCS can only enter your home by invitation or with a warrant or other court order. If they insist on coming in, ask to see the warrant or court order or politely decline. Please don’t slam the door in their face.
Never assume the investigating case worker is on your side no matter how friendly they appear. Listen, reasonably cooperate, and be nice. One second of courtesy could change the entire outcome for you and your children.
In Arizona, you are legally allowed to record any conversation you are having. This includes conversations with DCS investigators. So record it! Protect yourself from later “he said, she said” arguments. You do NOT have to tell them you are recording.
Document everything. Take photos if appropriate. Write out a timeline of events. Get any texts or information off your phone and store them in a safe place. Request medical and education records.
If you are rude, defensive, or aggressive with the investigator things can get bad very quickly. You do not want to lose your children because you could not remain calm. Yes, you are the parent, but they have a job to do. Do not provide them with more information than they request – in other words, keep quiet and don’t ramble because you are nervous. Do not admit to wrongdoing. Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand. Do not submit to hair, urine, or blood testing without talking to an attorney. Arizona Revised Statutes § 8-804 The Central Registry. https://www.azleg.gov/ars/8/00804.htm
Brittany Labadie is the Managing Partner at Lewis Labadie. She has been working with Lewis Labadie since it opened. Her current focus is with adoption cases, including juvenile adoptions, adult adoptions, foster care adoptions, same-sex adoption, surrogacy adoptions, and when necessary termination of parental rights. She works throughout the State of Arizona.