The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is the agency that takes children into foster care. DHS places kids in foster care based on an imminent danger of serious harm to the children (real or perceived).
Usually, a DHS worker arrives at your home based on a call to the child abuse hotline. A hotline call doesn’t usually contain many details, but if the call is accepted by DHS, an investigator is legally obligated to check on the kids. Just because a DHS worker comes to your home doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. It just means that someone has told DHS one of the kids in the home is or was in danger.
Legally DHS investigators do not have the authority to force you to take a drug screen or to let them in to your home unless they have a court order. However during an investigation, a DHS investigator does have the right to go to the school and interview the children without you present and without your prior notification.
Practically, cooperating with DHS at this stage is crucial. DHS employees are people like anyone else and through training, experience, or human bias, they associate cooperation with safety. The people that start cursing the moment they see a DHS employee are the people that get a second, third, and sometimes fourth look.
Robert Depper learned the Arkansas Foster Care System while he worked as an attorney for DHS. Mr. Depper is committed to his client’s families and getting kids home.