How to Expunge a Closed CPS Case

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Expunging a CPS case includes removing all documents pertaining to the case.

A state's child protective services (CPS) investigates reports of child abuse and/or neglect. Following an investigation, records are classified according to the state's statutory language. The terms denoting true allegations include confirmed, founded or indicated. The terms unsubstantiated, unfounded or unconfirmed are used to describe reports where no abuse or neglect were found. Regardless of the results of CPS cases, states include names of individuals investigated in a registry used for background checks. Under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), to receive funding states must provide a way for you to expunge false or unfounded case records.


    • 1

      Research state laws on CPS expungement. Each state has different regulations you must follow to expunge your old CPS case. You must, for instance in Alabama, wait five years and have no other opened or closed CPS cases before you can expunge your record.

    • 2

      File a request with the state department over the CPS cases. State regulations, such as the ones in Vermont, require you to file a written request to expunge your name and information.

    • 3

      Appear at the hearing. You may have to attend a hearing to present evidence like witnesses and information that supports your request for expungement.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your state doesn't have a hearing procedure, you may have to wait the allotted time period for your old CPS record to be expunged. Some states like Illinois, remove all records in approximately five years after an unfounded CPS case. Department regulations, however, allow the state to keep identifying information on you depending on the type of case filed. Cases involving any sexual molestation, exploitation or death aren't expugnable for at least 50 years --- even after the cases are closed. The timeframe for expunging an old CPS case varies by state. Some states, like South Carolina, immediately destroy records involving unfounded cases. While others, such as Arkansas and Louisiana, eliminate records ranging from five to 10 years after an individual makes the CPS report. You may have to wait until the child at the center of the investigation becomes an adult. Mississippi requires you to wait until the child reaches 20-years-old before expunging a CPS case is a possibility. Other states have expungement eligibility laws which include years or age requirement. Florida requires you to wait seven years or until the child reaches 18 years old to expunge records. States may not expunge an old CPS case if allegations were founded.

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