I have never posted in this forum, but most search results for CPS came up in this forum, so here is where I need to ask for advice.
I have 5 children. I stay at home with them/homeschool. I am an incredible advocate of Positive Parenting. We don't hit, "punish", or even yell if I can help it. I don't belittle the kids, use hurtful language, etc., etc. Not trying to brag, but literally everyone that knows us or observes my kids (doctors, dentists, other parents, old friends, etc) says they are exceptional kids and I'm the most patient parent they've even encountered (when I'm well).
That said, my housekeeping skills are not the best, especially when I'm not feeling well, like when I'm pregnant, or dealing with borderline chronic fatigue, as I am now. Therefore, I'm always dealing with a dread of CPS in the back of my brain.
I am back in college after my bachelor's 8 years ago, and the schedule is grueling, so I've not been getting enough sleep. Last week I was putting the baby down and fell asleep. My 4 year old was looking for me and, for reasons we can't figure, my 8 yr old told him I'd walked to the pool (at the leasing office of our complex). He walked alone to the pool. They found him outside the leasing office crying, couldn't remember his last name or where he lived, they called the police. They pulled the files for apartments and looked for his brother's and sister's names and found us. All this happened in a span of about 20 minutes. When they came to the door my mother answered (dh was at work). She thought he'd lain down with me, SURE that he would have NEVER done something like that (I'd have been equally sure of that until that day). She woke me up, I was immediately in shock, shaking and crying all the way to the office to pick him up, get a long VERY judgmental lecture from the leasing office manager, while still crying and got home to quickly clean as much as possible because the police would be there any minute. The police officer warned me she would have to pass this on to CPS. I cried all evening and night, terrified they were going to take my children for neglect, thinking of all the things that could have happened to my baby, etc.
Of course, once CPS is involved the leasing office has all sorts of tales to tell, about complaints from the neighbors (that we've NEVER heard from anyone) about my children playing in the van in the parking lot on a hot summer day (NO WAY! we keep it locked and I routinely tell them that pets and kids die in hot cars), or taking off and wandering the complex on other occasions (NO), the townhome was "disgusting", all blatantly false. There is NO way. This was a completely isolated, totally horrifying event.
Anyway, CPS officer came to the house first thing the next morning. I had read here to never let them in, so I tried to keep her out and stay strong. But she got very angry, said because there was a claim that the house was dirty she HAD to see it. If I didn't let her in she'd HAVE to get a warrant, and if I made her do that it wasn't going to be pretty. So, I caved, crying again, of course. She said the kids looked great, the house was far from disgusting, and the kids gave all the right answers to her questions. No, we never spank them or hit them, no we don't get drunk or use drugs, Yes they feel safe talking to us, etc. She saw no reason for concern, and loved that we'd already installed an alarm that goes off very loudly whenever the door is opened. However, she then ties a few strings.
"While the house certainly isn't disgusting, or even very cluttered for having 5 kids, it isn't really all that clean, either." She asked if I'd like a referral to a local program through some non-gov't group that will come out once a month (or week, can't remember) and help me develop a schedule for cleaning with little ones, etc. She kept stressing that she has no part in it, totally voluntary, etc. Perfectly willing to take all the help anyone is willing to offer, because I do have a lot of children/responsibilities, and because she was not involved, and because I didn't know how it would look if I declined, I said yes. Then she tells me that they send her a report after every visit, "but because the file is closed she won't even look at it, just put it in the file."
Now, on the surface, this seems harmless, but I'm still terrified of CPS. I've now got one half-strike against me. What if they send a bad report? What if I make some kind of mistake again in the future and the reports say I wasn't doing a good enough job? Is this something I need to worry about? I don't want CPS in my life. I want them gone. Forever. Is there a graceful, non-black-mark way to retreat from this? Help.