Quite often a Department of Social Services (DSS) case starts when a child is taken into emergency protective custody. Emergency Protective Custody (EPC) usually occurs when a law enforcement officer takes a child into EPC without the permission of the parent or the person acting as parent when an emergency such as the following occurs:

  • Law enforcement thinks that the child is in very serious danger due to neglect or abuse.
  • The parent (or the person acting as parent) is arrested and there is no one else to take care of the child. In these cases, law enforcement officers will often try to place the child another parent or suitable relative.
  • A child is found and his or her parents—or the people who act as his parents—cannot be found.

Law enforcement will coordinate with DSS, and the officer will take the child to a DSS caseworker. The caseworker will then usually temporarily put the child in a foster home or shelter.

DSS usually will do an emergency investigation within 24 hours of the child’s being taken into protective custody. DSS staff workers will try to figure out if DSS should take custody of the child, return the child home, or place the child with a relative.

Within 72 hours after the child has been taken into EPC, there will be a probable cause hearing in front of a family court judge where the parent or person acting as a parent can challenge whether there was probable cause for the child to be taken in the first place.

If your child or the child of a loved one has been taken into Emergency Protective Custody and you would like to discuss your rights with an attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry  toll-free at 888.230.1841 for your confidential consultation.


John Holland
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John Holland is a Spartanburg Family law attorney, practicing since 2012.
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