What to know about Child Protective Services

Unfortunately children suffer from abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers or other adults all too often. With this in mind Child Protective Services (CPS) functions within the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) as a means to help ensure that the children of Texas are safe and that Texas families are educated about how to promote loving and safe homes.

It’s possible that if you’re reading this blog that you were at one time a part of a CPS investigation. Maybe you are part of an active CPS investigation that is currently ongoing.

If either of these situations are true, then you know that CPS encourages the participation of the parents of a child against whom abuse or neglect has been allegedly committed. The remainder of this blog post will discuss the purpose of a CPS investigation as well as the goals CPS aspires to achieve in each investigation it commences.

The goals associated with a CPS Investigation

When a report of abuse or neglect of your child comes in to CPS, an investigation begins in which a case worker will likely contact you to set up an interview. The overarching goal of CPS associated with your investigation is to ensure that your child is safe from abuse or neglect and then to return your child to your home as soon as possible.

Until your home is determined to be safe, however, it is likely that your child will be removed from the home and placed in the care of another family- perhaps a relative of yours or your spouse if one is available.

What does CPS do during the actual investigation? A CPS investigation will typically follow one of the three paths that I am about to list:

  1. Take steps to create a safe environment for the child, hopefully allowing your child to remain in your home. Removing your child from your home is actually the last option that CPS will take advantage of and will not occur until and unless your home is determined to be unsafe for your child to continue to reside in. Family members or a temporary home with persons outside your family are potential landing spots for your child.
  2. Help to find a substitute home for your child to live in while CPS works with you and your spouse to help ensure that your home is going to be a safe environment for your child to reside.
  3. If necessary, CPS will seek legal recourse to ensure the safety of your child. This can range from filing a family lawcase to place your child with another family on a temporary or permanent basis. The most extreme example of a mechanism that CPS can use to ensure the safety of your child is to file a petition to terminateyour parental rights.

A CPS Investigation does not mean that your child will have to live apart from you

Just because CPS opens an investigation against you does not mean that your child is going to be removed from your care. The potential risk of harm apparent in your home is what CPS will look to in order to determine whether or not it is appropriate to leave your child in your care.

Even if your child is removed there are steps that you will be asked to take, including attending classes and other training programs that will allow you to regain your child once you complete the coursework and counseling.

What happens if a CPS Investigation results in a finding against you?

In the event that CPS conducts an investigation into alleged abuse or neglect that you committed against your child and the result of the investigation is that they determine that abuse or neglect did occur then your child will certainly be removed from your home.

This may be a confusing time for you since how you define “abuse” and “neglect” may be different than how a CPS investigator does. As a result, knowing how CPS defines these terms can give you a better idea of how you will be judged by a case worker.

Abuse as defined by Child Protective Services means either an act or omission (the failure to act) by a person that causes physical or mental harm. The mental injury must be such that there is an observable and substantial impairment of your child’s development and growth.

An example of how an omission can potentially constitute abuse is when you have permitted your child to be in a situation that causes him or her to sustain a mental or emotional injury as discussed in the previous sentence. Likewise, if your child suffers physical injury due to your failing to have removed him or her from a situation in which the injury was preventable is also a type of abuse.

Physical injuries of course count as abuse under the law in Texas that CPS will apply to your case. The key is that “substantial harm” or the threat of substantial harm must have occurred as a result. An accident or reasonable disciplinary measures are not counted among the kinds of abuse that CPS can remove a child over.

Sexual conduct and abuse related to sex acts are included in the definition of abuse as well. You can consult the Texas Family Code to learn the multiple sexually based offenses that can potentially constitute child abuse in Texas.

The definitions of neglect and the parties to your CPS investigation to be discussed tomorrow

Please come back to the website for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to learn about the different definitions of neglect that CPS applies. Also, I will go over the parties to most any CPS case so that you can learn about the role of each and their impact on the investigation.

If you have any questions that this blog post did not cover please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to answer your questions in a free of charge consultation.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
  2. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 2
  3. Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 3
  4. Child Protective Services: Investigation Essentials for Texas Families
  5. Grandparents can find themselves in a tough spot when raising a child in response to a CPS investigation
  6. What can be done if CPS has taken possession of your child in Texas?
  7. CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help
  8. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  9. Texas Child Visitation Modification
  10. 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
  11. Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
  12. Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas CPS defense Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding CPS, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX CPS defenseLawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our CPS defenselawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles CPS defense cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.