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How to Prepare a CPS Home Visit With Checklist

Robyn Neath
by Robyn Neath | June 06, 2022 | Reading time: 5 minutes

A CPS home visit checklist lists everything a CPS investigator should look for when inspecting the home. Learn more about what to look for and the best way to proceed and how a checklist can help.

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What Is a CPS Home Visit Checklist?


A CPS home visit checklist helps ensure that the home passes the Child Protective Services (CPS) inspection. CPS is a division of the Department of Social Services that keep children safe. They come to parents' homes when there are reports of child abuse.


The first thing on the CPS home visit checklist is signs of abuse or neglect. Protecting the child is their top priority. They will remove any threat to the child's safety, including the abuser. Removing a child from the home is their last resort, and they would first try to remove the abuser from the home.



In this article, the following points are explained:


1. What a CPS investigator should look for


2. What a CPS investigator has to care for


3. A CPS home visit inspection tool


Parents with their children during a CPS home visit

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What a CPS Investigator Should Look For During A Home Visit?


There are different areas and conditions in the house that a CPS inspector checks during his visit. The following is a summary of the seven most important areas. To ensure that the overview of all inspection points is not lost, a checklist is usually used that the inspector goes through during his home visit.


1. Cleanliness


CPS inspects the sanitary conditions of the house to ensure that the home is clean and safe for the kids. One of the major issues is the presence of animals, humans, and rodent feces in the house.


The inspector also checks the surroundings for insect and rodent infestation. So, the CPS home visit checklist must include getting rid of cockroaches, rats, and other pests.


Another thing that parents must take care of is unpleasant odors. These are the first thing that the social worker will notice as they enter the home. The house or apartment should not smell of cigarette smoke, molds, or gas leak. There should not be any trash or piles of dirty laundry laying around the house.


2. Kitchen


Social workers should not find moldy, rotten or spoiled food in the kitchen. At best, the pantry should have healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Having enough food for the children makes a positive impression.


Dangerous items in the kitchen such as knives, razor blades and matches should be kept in a safe place out of children's reach.


3. Safety Hazards


It will not bode well if the CPS investigators find anything that could cause choking, poisoning, strangulation, and suffocation. Thats why a social worker’s home visit checklist should includs a thorough inspection of the house for such safety hazards.


Apart from that, the house must be free from fall, slip, and trip hazards. Parents should get rid of clutter and make sure there are no loose rugs, slippery surfaces, and loose cables. Repair or discard broken appliances, shattered glass, and malfunctioning utilities. Exposed wiring and electrical parts must also be taken care of. They are a red flag for the CPS.


Other things to include in a CPS home visit checklist are chemicals and electrical equipment that could cause burn injuries in children. Flammable items, household cleaners, and chemicals should be stored far from open flame and out of children’s reach. In addition, smoke detectors should be installed in all rooms except the kitchen and bathroom.


4. Sleeping Arrangements


Children younger than 18 months must have their own crib and it must not be filled with blankets, pillows, and stuffed toys. If children are old enough to be sleeping in bunk beds, they should have railings on both sides to prevent falls.


If they are younger than six years, the children must not sleep in a top bunk. Opposite-sex children over the age of six should sleep in separate bedrooms.


5. Firearms


Guns or weapons must be unloaded and locked inside a cabinet where children can’t find them. Ammunition must be stored away from the weapons.


6. Alcohol & Drugs


The presence of illegal drugs and substances in the house is tantamount to neglect. Medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, must be locked in a cabinet out of children’s reach. The same is true with alcohol.


7. Backyard


A swimming pool must have fencing that can prevent kids from drowning. The property must also have a fence if the house is located near the road. This is to make sure the children don’t wander off the road.



Mother playing with their children during a CPS home visit

What a CPS Investigator Has to Care For


Abuse or neglect complaints may include mental and physical injury, sexual abuse and exploitation, maltreatment, and negligence. Child abuse is not always obvious. Abusers often do it behind closed doors.


CPS has 30 days to perform an investigation unless there is sufficient reason for an extension. The investigation starts within 24 hours of a report. It usually includes:


Face-To-Face Interviews


A CPS investigator will speak with the child, parents or caregivers, and/or the alleged abuser. They could also interview relatives, friends, neighbours, or professionals who have had interactions with the family.


Most importantly, the children will be asked questions designed to find out if they have been abused or if they have been told not to speak out. The process can take days or weeks.


Inspecting the Home


CPS investigators know that it is highly unlikely that someone is abusing children in front of them. Therefore, they must spend some time investigating and inspecting the home. They must examine the home for evidence and observe parents interacting with their children to determine for sure if there are signs of abuse.


Reviewing Any Relevant Documents


Child abuse and neglect are multidimensional and complicated. For this reason, CPS alone cannot do the job of protecting and ensuring the safety of children. There are various agencies and professionals that CPS works with to effectively intervene in families going through child abuse.


This is why CPS will also need a doctor visit form form the parents, which is a document that shows children are of sound medical, dental, vision, hearing and behavioral health. But those aren't the only documents they have to look at. Also included, for example, are CPS files, police reports, criminal records of all individuals involved, and school reports.


Being a CPS inspector must be thorough, as must ensuring that the CPS home inspection checklist covers all of the above areas.


The most important concern, of course, must be the safety and well-being of the child. If there are signs that someone is abusing a child in any way, whether physically, sexually, emotionally, or through neglect, CPS must intervene immediately.



A CPS Home Visit Inspection Tool


The child's best welfare is the focus for CPS investigators and their department. That's why it's essential to work accurately, reliably document all investigative findings, and act quickly.


Previously, CPS home visits have typically used paper lists for inspections. However, these are prone to information loss, incorrectly completed or omitted checks and illegible information. In addition, after home visits have been made, investigators usually have to spend several working hours in the office evaluating the inspections and preparing reports. Time that is missing for home visits and working with parents and children.


Lumiform is a digital and powerful inspection tool that child welfare departments can use for on-site work and follow-up. CPS home visit checklists are efficiently completed on-site via smartphone or tablet using the mobile app.


If there are any incidents of concern during the home visit, CPS investigators can immediately report them to other team members and supervisors while still on inspection from the app. In Lumiform's dashboard, everything can be set to generate a report after each home visit immediately.


Lumiform also provides CPS investigators with the ability to:


  • Turn existing paper forms into digital checklists in just a few steps with the help of the innovative form builder. In addition, the digital forms can be updated at any time.
  • Additional photos and notes can be taken during the inspection to create a clear report.
  • Completing arrangements with parents on home improvements can be tracked through the Lumiform Dashboard.
  • Schedule follow-up appointments for additional home visits efficiently in the dashboard and receive appointment reminders.
  • All inspection data is securely stored in the cloud, so information from previous home visits can also be accessed at any time - even while on the road.



Father with his newborn child


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Robyn Neath

Robyn Neath

Robyn started her writing career after receiving her screenwriting diploma from InFocus Film School in Vancouver, BC. She has since worked for esteemed sports, casting, and news organizations. When she isn’t concentrating on generating content with Lumiform, she enjoys working on her sitcom scripts and entering them into writing competitions. She has a strong interest in the arts, and can usually be found re-watching Frasier or stumbling her way through The New York Times daily crossword.

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