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Using a CPS home visit checklist to prepare for visits

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.

What is a CPS home visit checklist?

A CPS home visit checklist helps ensure that you address everything Child Protective Services (CPS) considers important to children’s safety. CPS is a division of the Department of Social Services that responds to allegations of child abuse, neglect, or similar.

The first thing a CPS home visit checklist checks for is signs of abuse or neglect. Protecting the child is their top priority, so they’ll remove any threat to the child’s safety, including the abuser. Removing a child from their home is a last resort.

What should CPS inspectors look for during home inspections?

CPS inspectors are responsible for many areas during their home visits. The most important things to assess range from living conditions to parental relationships to other social dynamics in the home. Because these inspections cover so much ground, inspectors generally have a CPS inspection checklist to work through through during visits.

1. Cleanliness

CPS inspects sanitation in the house to ensure that it’s clean and fit for a child. One common issue is the presence of animal, human, and rodent feces in the house.

Inspectors also check the surroundings for insect and rodent infestations. So a CPS home visit checklist must include getting rid of cockroaches, rats, and other pests.

Another thing to watch for is unpleasant odors. A social worker will notice these immediately. The house or apartment should not smell of cigarette smoke, molds, or a gas leak. There should not be any trash or piles of dirty laundry laying around the house.

2. Kitchen

Social workers should make sure there’s no moldy, rotten, or spoiled food in the kitchen. Ideally, the pantry should have healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.

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

3. Safety hazards

It wouldn’t be good if the CPS investigators find anything that could cause choking, poisoning, strangulation, or suffocation. That’s why a social worker home inspection checklist needs to include a thorough hazard inspection of the entire house.

Apart from that, the house must be free of fall, slip, and trip hazards. Parents should get rid of clutter and make sure there are no loose rugs, slippery surfaces, and loose cables. Broken appliances need to be repaired or discarded. Exposed wiring and electrical parts must be addressed.

You should also include chemicals and electrical equipment in your CPS home visit checklist. Flammable items, household cleaners, and chemicals should be stored far from open flame and out of reach. In addition, smoke detectors should be installed in all rooms except the kitchen and bathroom.

4. Sleeping arrangements

Children younger than 18 months need their own crib, which can’t be filled with blankets, pillows, and stuffed toys. If children are old enough to sleep in bunk beds, they should have railings on both sides to prevent falls.

If they are younger than six years old, 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 in a cabinet where children can’t find them. Ammunition must be stored separately from weapons.

6. Alcohol & drugs

If CPS finds illicit drugs or substances in the house, this is a clear indicator of neglect. Medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, must be locked in a cabinet out of children’s reach. The same is true of alcohol.

7. Backyard

If there’s a swimming pool, it must have fencing that prevents kids from drowning. The property must also have a fence if the house is located near a road, so children don’t wander into the street.

Mother playing with their children during a CPS home visit

The different steps of a CPS inspection

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

CPS has 30 days to perform an investigation, unless there’s a good reason for an extension. The investigation starts within 24 hours of a report, and usually includes:

Face-to-face interviews

A CPS investigator speaks with the child, parents or caregivers, and/or the alleged abuser. They could also interview relatives, friends, neighbours, or professionals who’ve interacted with the family.

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

Inspecting the home

CPS investigators spend some time investigating and inspecting the home beyond one single visit. They must examine homes for evidence and observe parent-child interactions to determine for sure if there are signs of abuse.

Reviewing relevant documents

Child abuse and neglect are multidimensional issues. For this reason, CPS alone cannot do the job of protecting and ensuring the safety of children. They work with several different agencies to best ensure children’s safety.

CPS also needs a doctor visit form from the parents, which shows children are of sound medical, dental, visual, auditory, and behavioral health. They also need to see CPS files, police reports, criminal records if applicable, and school reports.

A CPS home inspection checklist needs to include the information obtained from all of the documents mentioned. The instant there are signs that someone is abusing a child in any way, whether physically, sexually, emotionally, or through neglect, CPS must intervene immediately.

Using workflow automation software to write CPS home visit checklists

CPS home inspection checklists are typically paper-based. But a paper checklist is easy to misplace, fill out incorrectly, or damage. In addition, after making a home visit, investigators usually have to spend several working hours in the office evaluating inspections and preparing reports, which is time not spent working with families.

With workflow automation software like Lumiform, CPS home visit checklists are easy and faster to conduct via smartphone or tablet using the mobile app. And Lumiform checklists walk inspectors through every step of the process, ensuring no mistakes are made.

Lumiform makes CPS home visits productive and easy to manage by:

  • Making it easy to turn existing paper forms into digital checklists in just a few steps by using the custom form builder. In addition, digital forms can be updated at any time.
  • Letting you include additional photos and notes during inspections to create more thorough reports
  • Helping you track inspections, reports, and other tasks using Lumiform’s desktop software
  • Facilitating follow-up appointments for additional home visits and timely reminders
  • Storing inspection data securely in the cloud, so information from past home visits is available at any time

Father with his newborn child


What are CPS home inspection requirements?

CPS home inspection requirements typically include ensuring a safe, clean, and habitable environment for a child. Inspectors check for hazards, adequate living space, and proper provisions for the child’s basic needs.

What does CPS look for in a home inspection?

During a home inspection, CPS looks for signs of abuse or neglect, safety hazards, cleanliness, sufficient food and clothing, and appropriate sleeping arrangements for the child.

What is a CPS home visit checklist?

A CPS home visit checklist includes items such as checking for working smoke detectors, secure storage of harmful substances, access to clean water and food, and overall home cleanliness and safety.

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