Facing a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation can be an overwhelming experience for any family. In this essential guide, we’ll walk you through what to expect during a CPS investigation and provide practical strategies for handling the situation effectively. Stay informed and empowered as we break down the process, step-by-step, ensuring you’re prepared at every turn.
Ins and Outs of CPS investigations
Type of Abuse/Neglect
Intentional harm or injury inflicted upon a child by a parent, guardian, or caregiver.
Hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or using excessive physical discipline.
Unexplained bruises, fractures, burns, or other physical injuries.
Behaviors that consistently undermine a child’s emotional well-being, such as constant criticism, humiliation, or rejection.
Verbal insults, constant belittlement, or withholding love and affection.
Extreme changes in behavior, low self-esteem, withdrawal, or excessive fearfulness.
Any form of sexual exploitation or harm inflicted upon a child.
Inappropriate touching, exposure to explicit material, molestation, or rape.
Difficulty walking or sitting, sudden changes in behavior, sexual knowledge beyond their age level.
Failure to meet a child’s basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, or supervision.
Inadequate nutrition, lack of proper clothing, abandonment, or failure to provide necessary medical treatment.
Poor hygiene, malnutrition, chronic absenteeism from school, or lack of appropriate adult supervision.
Unraveling CPS Investigations: Know Your Rights and Protect Your Family!
When a potential client walks into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC with a question regarding a >Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation it is the goal of the attorney to provide information regarding their rights and what to expect during the course of the investigation itself.
As a governmental agency CPS does provide a very basic explanation of their investigative process through their website. However, as anyone who has ever been investigated by CPS will tell you those guidelines are not always followed as explicitly as their website may indicate.
This blog post will detail what CPS can actually do in terms of their power to investigate your family and what you can do as a response. However, I will acknowledge from the start of this post that it can be very alarming to receive a phone call or a knock on the door and have a CPS caseworker be on the other side of the door or telephone.
However, the power of CPS is not unlimited and there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family and your right to parent your child despite any allegations against you.
How CPS conducts itself during an Investigation
A CPS case-worker/investigator collects information to help CPS determine a child’s safety, following a report.
People anonymously report potential abuse or neglect cases to CPS. After an initial visit with you, CPS decides whether to involve further with your family or remove your child.
How does CPS gather the information that they need to make this sort of determination? Like a police officer, CPS investigators can:
- examine your child for injuries or signs of neglect
- obtain copies of school records, police reports and medical records
- have an examination done of your child for medical or psychological purposes
- undertake an inspection of your home including taking photos
- speak to people whom they believe may have information about the allegations of abuse or neglect; this includes teachers, neighbors, relatives, or doctors
How You Can Conduct Yourself During an Investigation
Many people, understandably, feel like they are powerless to do anything while CPS is investigating them and their family.
This is simply not true. There are many things that you can do during the course of a CPS investigation that can go a long way towards protecting the rights of yourself and your children.
The most basic thing you can do during a CPS investigation is to show the agency that you are able to keep your child safe from harm. This means addressing whatever report has been made and the allegations contained within it.
If the report is unsubstantiated then you can show the case worker that there is nothing to the allegations made against you.
If there is some merit to the report then you can take positive steps to eliminate any future risk of harm as best as possible. If that means removing an individual from your home who has harmed your child then that is for the best.
Other examples include:
- removing drugs or alcohol completely from the home,
- ensuring that the refrigerator is properly stocked with food or
- merely cleaning up the home to appear more tidy.
These are all examples of situations where a child can be removed from your care if the situation warrants it.
Information to provide to a CPS Caseworker
If CPS is investigating you it is always a smart idea to speak to a family law attorney who handles CPS cases. Having the assistance of an attorney can be helpful for no other reason than because CPS typically treats people with attorneys with more respect.
Attorneys are also good at helping clients communicate with CPS in terms of information that may be helpful to both CPS and you as the person being investigated.
Making sure that CPS has the name and contact information for any person who can provide further explanation for the harm (if any) that has occurred to your child can be extremely helpful.
Having another person provide the same explanation for the mark on a child’s head, for example, can help a CPS investigator determine the actual risk to a child much faster.
Lastly, the faster the information is collected, the faster an assessment can be made and the faster that CPS can be out of your and your family’s lives.
Talking to CPS: Do I have to?
The short answer here is, no, you don’t have to talk to any person from CPS if you do not want to. You have a right to remain silent. However, the risk in doing so is that your silence may lead a case worker to believe that you are hiding something or more at fault than you actually are.
I realize that this is not fair. A defendant in a criminal trial does not have to take the stand to testify in his or her own defense and the judge will instruct the jury that the defendant’s failure to testify should not be subject to consideration when making their final verdict.
However, CPS is not a Court and their perception matters when it comes to your investigation.
If you do speak to CPS then the best advice that I can provide you with is to be honest. It does not pay to hide facts that make you look bad or to invent answers on the fly because they may you look good.
The CPS caseworker will ask you questions about what happened in the situation described in the report. If there has been actual abuse or neglect against your child then CPS can offer you a roadmap to rehabilitating your family through counseling and various other family based social services.
What is a Safety Plan?
A Safety Plan is a series of benchmarks that your case worker and their supervisor may lay out for you after an investigation is underway.
Especially when authorities have removed your child from your care, safety plan steps aim to minimize future risk of harm to your child. Maintain your focus on your family’s wellbeing, and equip yourself to handle this phase with strength and clarity.
In conclusion, navigating a Child Protective Services investigation requires a blend of knowledge, composure, and informed action. By understanding the CPS process, your rights, and the best ways to cooperate, you can manage this challenging situation with confidence. Remember, seeking legal advice and support is key. Stay focused on the wellbeing of your family, and you’ll be equipped to handle this phase with strength and clarity.
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- What can be done if CPS has taken possession of your child in Texas?
- target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Child Protective Services: Investigation Essentials for Texas Families
- Navigating a CPS case as a non-offending parent
- How to Prepare for a CPS Interview in Texas: A Comprehensive Step-By-Step Guide
- What Happens If You Run From Cps In Texas
- How far back does CPS background check go?
- What happens if CPS won’t help?
- What Kinds of Questions can CPS ask a Child?
- How does CPS decide whether to open a case?
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the grounds for CPS termination in Texas?
CPS termination of parental rights in Texas requires clear and convincing evidence of severe abuse or neglect, abandonment, or endangerment of the child’s well-being. The court must determine that it is in the best interests of the child to terminate parental rights.
How do I fight CPS in Texas?
If you want to fight CPS in Texas, it is crucial to seek legal representation. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, challenge allegations, and present a strong defense on your behalf.
Do I have to cooperate with CPS in Texas?
While cooperation with CPS is generally recommended, you have the right to consult with an attorney before providing any information or making any decisions. It is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure your rights are protected during the investigation process.
Can a judge overrule CPS in Texas?
Yes, a judge has the authority to overrule CPS decisions. If you disagree with a CPS determination or decision, you can present your case in court and provide evidence to support your position. The judge will make a final ruling based on the facts and best interests of the child.
Can you refuse to talk to CPS in Texas?
While you have the right to remain silent, refusing to talk to CPS in Texas may have consequences. It is advisable to consult with an attorney before making any decisions, as they can guide you on how to navigate the situation and protect your rights.
Can Texas CPS enter your home?
In certain circumstances, Texas CPS has the authority to enter your home without your consent if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a child is in immediate danger or at risk of abuse or neglect. However, it is recommended to seek legal advice if you have concerns about a CPS visit.
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.