How Long Does a CPS Case Stay on Your Record? (Trick to See Yours)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | October 31, 2022

Man looking at his home with a question mark over his head and a CPS background check investigation document on the right wonders how long does a CPS investigation stay on your record?

Individuals who have been investigated by child protective services may be wondering, how long does a CPS case stay on your record?

The good news is that if the investigation didn’t find any wrongdoing, you should have a clean background check record. However, it’s crucial to check your criminal record to make sure.

There’s a simple trick to see it, by simply doing a name-based search in the state on yourself to see what shows up on a background check.

This free public record search will find any CPS investigation records that are part of a criminal record.

CPS investigations will only show up on a record if criminal charges are filed as a result of the findings. However, the report of the investigation will remain on the CPS records for 10 years in most cases.

Does a CPS Investigation Go on Your Record?

Individuals who are wondering: How long does a CPS case stay on your record should know that the investigation itself will not appear on the individual’s criminal record.

Screenshot of Michigan Department of Helath and Human Services website page with ywlloe arrow pointing to investigation process

The investigation process conducted by child protection services remains on a person’s record for up to 10 years, even if no charges were filed.

However, if criminal charges are filed against the individual due to what was found in the investigation, then these records will appear on a typical criminal history check.

How Long Does a CPS Case Stay on Your Record?

There are a few different kinds of records to consider when it comes to how long does a CPS case stays on your record? Mainly, the criminal record of the individual and records held by CPS.

As far as the individual’s criminal record is concerned, an investigation will never appear on the record. However, if criminal charges are filed after the investigation then the specific charges will be on the individual’s record.

Related Reading: How to Find Out if Criminal Charges Are Filed: Know These 5 Rights

However, CPS will keep records no matter the outcome of the investigation. Even if the investigation determined that the reports or complaints were completely unfounded, CPS will keep a record that an investigation took place for around 10 years.1

Use the table below to learn more about CPS record laws in each state.

 

How Long Does a CPS Case Stay On Your Record?Length of Time the Record StaysCPS Case Record Laws
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Alabama (AL)?Unsubstantiated: 5 yearsAlabama (AL) Case Record Policies
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Alaska (AK)?No state law for CPS record expungementAlaska (AK) Child Protection and Safety Act
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Arizona (AZ)?Unsubstantiated: Annually, Department of Child Safety destroys records. Individuals may send a request to confirm that their records are destroyed.
Substantiated: Before September 1, 1999: Until the child turns 18.
On September 1, 1999 or onwards: 25 years from the date the case was initiated.
Arizona (AZ) Department of Child Safety Investigations
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Arkansas (AR)?Substantiated: Adult: At least 1 year when no further report is made.
Juvenile (at the time records were first entered in the registry): a) When committed the same act as an adult, records shall remain unless the decision is changed or annulled.
b) After a year has passed since child maltreatment was found true, no same act was committed and has proven that he or she has changed.
Arkansas (AR) Requesting DCFS Records
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in California (CA)?Unsubstantiated: After 10 years. However, when an additional report was made in relation to the previous case or a new one was filed, the record will remain for 10 years from the date the new report was received.
Substantiated (Juvenile at the time the child maltreatment was committed): 10 years from the day the incident occurred, but shall remain when the same act was committed and reported within the 10-year period.
California (CA) Central Registries Reporting Policies
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Colorado (CO)?Unsubstantiated: Destroyed immediately and prevented from being accessed for employment background checks. However, the state and county Department of Social Services may keep the records indefinitely for future reference.Colorado (CO) Child and Adult Mistreatment Dispute Review
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Connecticut (CT)?Unsubstantiated: 5 years from the date of investigation or case closure. However, if a new report is made within 5 years, records will be expunged 5 years from the date the new report was concluded.Connecticut (CT) Child Abuse and Neglect Registry
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Delaware (DE)?Unsubstantiated: No record will be made in the registry.
Substantiated: Child Protection Level II: 3 years, but the individual can still be employed in child-related work. When 3 years have elapsed and no further report was made, records will be removed automatically.
Child Protection Level III: 7 years and the person will not be allowed to work in any child-related job. When 7 years have elapsed and no further report is made in relation to child neglect or abuse, records will be removed automatically and may be employed again in child-related jobs.
Note: All records will remain in the department and may be used as a future reference as mandated by law.
Delaware (DE) Child Protection Registry
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Florida (FL)?Most records in the case are not available to the public, however the department will keep the records until the child in the case turns 30.
Note that if the suspected or convicted individual is seeking employment in any child-related work before the child turns 30, employers will see the records.
Florida (FL) Child Abuse and Neglect Record Statutes
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Georgia (GA)?Substantiated: Adults must submit a request to the division to have a hearing to expunge records. Depending on the conclusion, records can be expunged within 60 days.
Minors can have their records expunged when they reached 18, over a year has passed since the act was committed, and evidence is provided that the person has changed.
Georgia (GA) Child Abuse Registry Rules and Regulations
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Hawaii (HI)?Unsubstantiated: May request expungement immediately. However, records will remain in the department for future reference.Hawaii (HI) Guide to Child Welfare Services
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Idaho (ID)?No state law for CPS record expungementIdaho (ID) Guide to Child Protective Services
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Illinois (IL)?Unfounded: Records are expunged except in cases mentioned in chapter 325, § 5/7.7.
Indicated or Undetermined: 5 years. However when a subsequent report is made relating to child maltreatment, records will remain in the registry longer than 5 years if a serious physical injury is inflicted on the child and more than 50 years when the child is proven to be sexually abused or tortured or dies as a result of the maltreatment.
Illinois (IL) DCFS Record Retention Schedule
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Indiana (IN)?Unsubstantiated: Within 24 years from the birthdate of the youngest child of the individual who committed the abuse. However, an individual may request to have his or her record expunged within the timeframe.Indiana (IN) Expungement of Records in Child Abuse Cases
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Iowa (IA)?Unsubstantiated: 10 years, unless rehabilitation is shown. If subsequent report is made, alleged or proven true, will remain for 10 years from the date of the new report was filed.
Substantiated: Up to 10 years depending on the nature of the abuse or maltreatment. If subsequent report is made, even if it’s alleged, will remain for 10 years from the date subsequent report is made.
Iowa (IA) Child Protective Services information
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Kansas (KS)?Substantiated: 18 years from the date of the last report of child neglect or abuse.
Records of juveniles will remain for 5 years if no neglect or abuse was committed within 5 years, no pending class A person misdemeanor or person felony case is filed against the individual as an adult, and no conviction results from the pending case/s.
Kansas (KS) DCF Records
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Kentucky (KY)?Substantiated: 7 years when no subsequent report is filed and the report is not related to sexual abuse, near death or death of a child, or reasons mentioned in §§ 625.050 through 625.120.Kentucky (KY) Reporting Child Abuse
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Louisiana (LA)?10 years from the date the report was made. However, if a report is made within the period, it will remain indefinitely.Louisiana (LA) Child Protection Investigation
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Maine (ME)?Unsubstantiated: 18 months after the result of the investigation. However it shall remain in the record if another report is made.Maine (ME) Guide to Child Welfare
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Massachusetts (MA)?Substantiated: 1 year after services ends or when the child turns 18, whichever is later.
Unsubstantiated: 1 year after conclusion of the investigation.
Massachusetts (MA) DCF Child Abuse or Neglect Reports
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Maryland (MD)?Unsubstantiated: 5 years after conclusion of investigation and no subsequent report is made within the period.
Ruled Out: 2 years after report is filed and no subsequent report is made within the period. However, it may be expunged immediately when rehabilitation is shown.
Maryland (MD) Expungement of Reports and Records
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Michigan (MI)?Unsubstantiated: May be expunged immediately.
Substantiated: At least 10 years up to a lifetime depending on circumstances of the case.
Michigan (MI) Children’s Protective Services
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Minnesota (MN)?Unsubstantiated: 5 years from the date reported.
Substantiated: 10 years from the last entry in the case.
Minnesota (MN) Family Investigation Response
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Mississippi (MS)?Unsubstantiated: When the child turns 20, the case is dismissed, or a decision is revoked.Mississippi (MS) CPS Record laws
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Missouri (MO)?Unsubstantiated: 45 days up to 5 years depending on the reason for the unsubstantiated conclusion.
Note: If the child in the case is missing, records will remain for 10 years.
Missouri (MO)  Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Montana (MT)?Unsubstantiated: Before October 1, 2003: 3 years
On or after October 1, 2003: 30 days up to 3 years from the date of conclusion unless subsequent report is made.
Montana (MT) Child and Family Services Policy
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Nebraska (NE)?Records can be expunged at anytime by the department, as long as the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator has proven rehabilitation.Nebraska (NE) Abuse and Neglect Central Registry
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Nevada (NV)?Substantiated: 10 years after the child turns 18.Nevada (NV) Central Registry
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in New Hampshire (NH)?Screened Out: 1 year from the date of conclusion.
Unfounded: 3 years from date of conclusion.
Founded: 7 years from date of conclusion.
New Hampshire (NH) Child Protection & Juvenile Justice
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in New Jersey (NJ)?Unsubstantiated: May be expunged immediately after conclusion.New Jersey (NJ) Child Abuse Record Information
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in New Mexico (NM)?No state law for CPS record expungementNew Mexico (NM) Child Abuse Records
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in New York (NY)?10 years after the youngest child in the report turns 18.New York (NY) Child Abuse Investigation
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in North Carolina (NC)?Shall abide by the general stature for record keeping and expungement.North Carolina (NC) Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in North Dakota (ND)?Unsubstantiated: A year up to 3 years depending on information
Substantiated: 2 to 3 years. When a subsequent report is made within the period, 10 years from the date of decision.
North Dakota (ND) Child Abuse record policy
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Ohio (OH)?No state law for CPS record expungementOhio (OH) State Administrative Code
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Oklahoma (OK)?Will remain in the records unless a new statute says otherwise.Oklahoma (OK) Investigation Protocol
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Oregon (OR)?No state law for CPS record expungementOregon (OR) Child Protective Services
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Pennsylvania (PA)?Unsubstantiated: 1 year
Substantiated: For adults, 5 years. For juveniles at the time of the commission of the abuse, 5 years or when the perpetrator turns 21, whichever is later.
Pennsylvania (PA) State General Assembly
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Rhode Island (RI)?Unsubstantiated: 3 years after conclusion of the case.Rhode Island (RI) Child Protective Services
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in South Carolina (SC)?Unsubstantiated: May be expunged immediately.South Carolina (SC) Child Abuse, Child Neglect
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in South Dakota (SD)?Unsubstantiated: 3 years, unless there’s a subsequent report within the period.
Substantiated: Permanently if the person committed violations Chapter 22-22, 22-24A, Section 22-22A-3 or Section 24-10-1.
South Dakota (SD) Guidelines for Judicial Process
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Tennessee (TN)?Unsubstantiated: Records will remain in the department for future reference, but will not be disclosed.Tennessee (TN) Child Protective History Check
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Texas (TX)?Unsubstantiated: 10 business days from conclusion.
The department will notify individuals that they may file a request for expungement.
Texas (TX) Child Protective Investigations (CPI)
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Utah (UT)?Up to 10 years and may be expunged automatically.Utah (UT) Child Protective Services Policy
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Vermont (VT)?Substantiated: Before July 1, 2009, 3 years. July 1, 2009 and onwards, up to 7 years. However, if the perpetrator is minor, records will remain until the minor turns 18 or for up to 3 years depending on the age of the minor at the time of the commission of the abuse.Vermont (VT) Child Protection Registry
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Virginia (VA)?Unsubstantiated: A year, if no subsequent report is made.Virginia (VA) Reporting of Family Assessment
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Washington (WA)?Screened Out: 3 years from report was filed.
Unfounded or Inconclusive: 6 years from conclusion of the investigation, unless a subsequent report is made.
Washington (WA) Child Abuse Investigation Policy
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in West Virginia (WV)?Unsubstantiated: Records may be expunged immediately upon request.West Virginia (WV) Child Protective Services Policy
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Wisconsin (WI)?No state law for CPS record expungementWisconsin (WI) Child Protective Services Process
How long does a CPS case stay on your record in Wyoming (WY)?Unsubstantiated: No record is made.
Substantiated: Indefinitely unless the state determines that the person is rehabilitated.
Note: All pending cases must be recategorized within 6 months.
Wyoming (WY) Department of Family Services

Can a Closed CPS Case Be Used Against You?

When it comes to can a CPS case be used against you? It absolutely can, however it will usually only be used against the individual in other CPS matters, rather than for employment or other situations.

Screenshot of Washoe County Nevada Human Services Agency website page with yellow arrow pointing to the possible outcomes of a CPS investigation

The possible outcomes of a CPS investigation vary by state, so parents and foster parents need to check with their local Department of Human Services to discover the options.

Since CPS will likely hold the only official record of the CPS case,2 unless there are criminal charges involved or a civil matter which involves the courts, then only CPS would be able to use the case against the individual.

How To Get CPS Records Expunged

Individuals should contact a lawyer if they have specific questions involving how to get CPS records expunged. However, individuals should know that unfounded reports will generally be eligible for expungement, such as if charges were filed and later dropped.1 Although CPS may still have a record, these records will not affect employment.

Related Reading: What Do Companies Look for in a Background Check? (List of Companies)

How Long Does a DCFS Case Stay Open?

When it comes to how long does a DCFS case stay open,3 the length of the investigation will vary but in most cases, it should be completed in around 45 days. Some investigations may take far less whereas others can take up to a year. When this happens, the DCFS will usually need to file an extension.

What Happens When a CPS Case Is Closed? How Long Does a CPS Case Stay on Your Record?

One of the most common questions people have about CPS cases is what happens when a CPS case is closed. What happens will depend on what the findings of the case were. At worst, criminal charges will be filed and any children will be dealt with by CPS, possibly going into temporary foster care or a similar situation.

Screenshot of Michigan website page for Child Protective Services with yellow arrow pointing to CPS Investigation Flow Chart in Michigan.

Child Protective Services has an 11-step flow chart involved in the investigation.

If the case finds no wrongdoing, there will be no legal repercussions but the CPS will keep a record of the case on file.

Does a Closed CPS Case Show Up on a Background Check?

Individuals wondering: Does a closed CPS case show up on a background check? should know that CPS cases will only appear on criminal history reports if there were charges filed as a result of the case. If the case was closed with no findings, then there will be no need for the information to appear on a background check.

How To Find Out if There Is a CPS Case Against You

There are a few ways to find out about a CPS case for those wondering how to find out if there is a CPS case against you. CPS, like the police, tend not to make formal statements about their investigations.

Many people will know there is a CPS case against them because CPS may simply show up at their home and ask to speak with the individual. In some cases CPS will also send a letter in the mail or drop off a business card requesting the individual contact them.

What Happens if You Ignore CPS?

Some individuals may think that simply ignoring CPS, similar to a court summons, is a good option. However, when it comes to what happens if you ignore CPS, the answer varies from virtually nothing happening to the individual’s children being removed from the home by CPS.

Does CPS Notify the Other Parent?

Many people who do not live with their child will want to know: Does CPS notify the other parent? Generally, CPS will try and notify the child’s guardians of the investigation. However if CPS can not find the individual or the parent is not considered a legal guardian, it’s possible they will not be notified.

What Happens if You Leave State With an Open CPS Case?

Some people may be looking to relocate during a CPS investigation and will have questions like What happens if you leave state with an open CPS case? It can be difficult to say exactly what will happen since every investigation is unique, however individuals should never attempt to flee to escape an investigation of any kind.

Can You Adopt if You Had a CPS Case?

Those that are looking to adopt but have previously been the subject of a CPS case might wonder: Can you adopt if you had a CPS case? Although having a previous case will not automatically disqualify an individual from being able to adopt, it will likely be a major factor. If the case revealed any abuse of any kind, the individual will likely be unable to adopt.

How To Press Charges for False CPS Report

Knowing how to press charges for a false CPS report is something every parent should know how to do. Generally, making a false report is considered a crime, and individuals can hire a lawyer and sue the individual in civil court.

How Long Does a CPS Report Stay on Your Record? (How To Clear Your Name Off a State Central Registry)

Having your name on a state central registry is very serious and tons of people will want to know how to clear your name off a state central registry. Luckily the process is fairly simple and involves filing a petition with the court where the substantiation occurred.1

Does an Unfounded CPS Case Stay on Your Record?

Those who have had false reports filed against them will be wondering does an unfounded CPS case stay on your record? Generally, a CPS case will not appear on your record unless charges resulted from the case, so an unfounded case will not appear on your record.

CPS Case Lookup

There is currently no CPS case lookup. Any materials related to the investigation will not be made public and will only come to light if charges are filed and criminal proceedings are taking place.

Screenshot of Michigan website page with yellow arrow pointing to individuals who may obtain access to CPS information

Each state provides access to CPS information for residents to find out more information about the process of investigation.

Certain documents relating to civil cases are available through the courts where they were filed, as long as the records were not sealed.

DCFS Investigation Process

Many people who want to know how long does a CPS case stay on your record will be unfamiliar with the investigation process.

 

The DCFS investigation is extremely simple, similar to a law enforcement investigation, the DCFS investigator will ask as many parties involved questions about the circumstances and claims made. Although they may need a warrant to search the premises, it is fairly likely a judge will grant a warrant if there is potentially a child in danger.

CPS Investigation Timeline: Stages of CPS Investigation Process

The CPS investigation timeline follows a timeline similar to a police investigation.

First, a complaint is made to CPS that will trigger the investigation. After this CPS will conduct interviews of family members and anyone living with the children in question. Then, CPS will categorize the case based on evidence of abuse.

If there is strong evidence of abuse, a criminal investigation will take place, followed by criminal charges, and then the criminal proceedings as a result of the charges.

What To Do if DCFS Is Investigating You

After a visit from a CPS investigator, many people will want to know what to do if DCFS is investigating you. The most important thing that individuals can do is to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Screenshot of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services website page with yellow arrow pointing to investigation procedures

Emergency removal procedures are designed to protect children, but in cases of unsubstantiated claims, parents are urged to seek personal legal representation.

An attorney will be able to guide the individual through their state’s specific CPS laws and offer guidance on the best way to handle the investigation.

Unsubstantiated CPS Case

Unfortunately, it is possible to be a victim of an unsubstantiated CPS case. Assuming the investigation finds no evidence of abuse, the next step individuals can take is to contact an attorney to see if suing the individual that made the false claims in civil court is an option.

How Long Does a CPS Case Stay on Your Record if It Is Unsubstantiated?

With false claims being made somewhat often, individuals may want to know how long does a CPS case stay on your record if it is unsubstantiated? A CPS case will remain on record with the CPS for 10 years. There will be no record of the case on an individual’s criminal record.

How Long Does a Substantiated CPS Report Stay on Your Record?

Those wondering how long does a substantiated CPS report stay on your record should know that the case will only appear on a criminal record if charges were filed as a result of the case.

What Kind of Background Check Does CPS Do?

Parents with open CPS cases will want to know: what kind of background check does CPS do?

A CPS background check is extremely comprehensive and will usually involve state, national, and federal criminal history checks as well as checks of abuse registries and sex offender registries.

Does Family Court Show Up on Background Check?

Those involved in civil matters may want to know: does family court show up on a background check? Generally, background checks will only involve criminal history checks and will not include checks of civil court records.

How To Get a CPS Case Dismissed

Individuals who want to know how to get a CPS case dismissed may be disappointed to find that this is usually not possible. Similar to a police investigation, if CPS suspects that a child is being neglected or abused, they will investigate as much as they deem necessary.

Do All CPS Cases Go to Court?

Many people will be wondering: Do all CPS cases go to court when they are being investigated? A CPS case will only go to court if the findings result in charges being filed.

Having an open CPS case is a very serious matter, even if unsubstantiated. However, knowing the answer to questions like: How long does a CPS case stay on your record? Should help ease some anxieties.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Does a CPS Case on Your Record

How Long Does a CPS Case Stay Open?

Most CPS cases will be open for less than 45 days.

Can I Go On Vacation With an Open CPS Case?

Although it may not technically be illegal, leaving for more than several days during a CPS investigation is likely to raise major red flags about the case.

How Long Can a CPS Case Stay Open?

Although it may not technically be illegal, leaving for more than several days during a CPS investigation is likely to raise major red flags about the case.

What Happens When a DCFS Case Is Closed?

When a DCFS case is closed one of two things will usually happen; either there will be no evidence of abuse and neglect and the case will close with no repercussions or if there is evidence that abuse or neglect took place then the case will proceed to a criminal investigation and eventually criminal charges being filed against the individuals involved in the abuse or neglect.

Do DCFS Investigations Show Up on Background Checks?

A DCFS investigation itself will not show up on a background check. The only time that a DCFS investigation would result in information appearing on a criminal history check is if the investigation resulted in criminal charges being brought against the individual.

What Does a CPS Background Check Include?

CPs background checks will include extensive criminal history checks, abuse registry checks, and sex offender regirstry checks.

What Is a Child Protective Services Background Check?

A CPS background check is usually performed as part of a CPS investigation to get a better idea of the child’s guardians.


References

1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). Review and Expunction Of Central Registries And Reporting Records. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from <https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/registry.pdf>

2State of California. (2022). Child Protective Services. CA.Gov. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from <https://www.cdss.ca.gov/reporting/report-abuse/child-protective-services>

3Illinois Department of Central Management Services. (2022). DCFS Homepage. Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from <https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/Pages/default.aspx>

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