In the third and final installment in the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC’s series of blog posts on Child Protective Services, we will discuss issues surrounding the extent to which CPS can inspect your home.
Finally, the post will conclude by going over what your rights as a parent are to appeal the ultimate determination made by CPS in your case.
CPS is in your home: What can they actually do?
A CPS caseworker can arrive at your home without advance notice so it is important to have your home ready. The other side of the coin is that the caseworker cannot enter without first identifying him or herself and asking your permission to enter your home.
Denying them permission is perfectly fine but remember that the failure to participate in the investigation will most likely be construed against you.
Keep in mind as well: any adult in the home can provide the permission necessary to allow a CPS employee to enter your home.
Even a child, if the CPS worker determines them to be of sufficient age, can grant the permission necessary to allow entry into the home.
What sort of analysis should you undertake prior to granting CPS permission to enter your home?
Consider the following as to what could happen if you respond with a “Yes” or “No” response:
Yes- If you do give permission for the investigator to enter your home this will grant you some goodwill with that person.
Reason being is that CPS workers are often treated very poorly by the people that they are investigating.
Whatever your feelings are about CPS and their investigation, your caseworker is simply doing their job and has no personal animus towards you or anyone else in your family. To put it plainly: a little respect can go a long way.
Basically, you should consider what the investigator will see once they enter your home.
If you know your home is well maintained, clean and has the sort of things a house with children should have (food, clean clothes, water, toys, personal hygiene items) then I would consider allowing the CPS worker into the home. I
f you know that there is something in the home that you cannot readily fix that will cause your caseworker to raise an eyebrow then perhaps you should consider saying no. Speaking of saying no….
No- On the other hand, denying a CPS caseworker entry into your home may cause them to believe you are being overly difficult and could count that against you. The other thing to consider is that CPS can get permission to enter your home from a judge’s Order or simply by asserting that an exigent circumstance necessitates their entry.
In other words: if the caseworker believes that a child is in immediate danger they can attempt to enter the home (often will law enforcement in-tow) without either consent or a judge’s order. If it seems like this is all leading to my writing that if CPS wants to get into your home they will find a way to do so, it’s because that is exactly what I’m trying to tell you.
Photographing your home and the people in it
The same general principles apply to the ability for a CPS caseworker to take photos of your home as applied to their ability to enter the home.
Expect that CPS will want to photograph any dangerous conditions in your home or anything else that will strengthen the case that abuse or neglect has occurred in the home. They must first obtain your permission or the permission of a child that at least appears mature enough to understand what giving permission means.
What happens when CPS concludes its investigation?
Once CPS has completed their investigation they will decide to label your case in one of a few ways:
- Reason to Believe (RTB): If CPS believes that the abuse or neglect has occurred they will declare the case as RTB based on the evidence they have collected
- Ruled Out (R/O): If it is determined that the abuse or neglect did not occur then a finding will be ruled out
- Unable to Complete: If for some reason CPS is not able to complete their investigation then the case will be classified as Unable to Complete
- Unable to Determine (UTD): If there is not enough evidence to make a determination one way or another then the case will be classified as UTD.
Based on these findings CPS may choose to work closely with you and your family to determine a Safety Plan that will allow your child to remain living with you in your home.
If you require extra support after the conclusion of the investigation then Family Based Social Services may be a part of your immediate future. Recommendations for attending anger management or other behavioral classes may be a part of these services.
On the other end of the spectrum would be the removal of your child from the home if it is determined that there is a significant enough safety risk to the child.
A court’s order will allow CPS to remove the child and further court proceedings will determine if the child will be returned to your home.
Administrative Review of the Decision from CPS
After being notified in writing of the CPS decision, you have up to 45 days to request a review of the decision. You must follow the instructions included in the decision letter from CPS and have the option to hire a family law attorney to represent you in this review hearing.
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will issue a decision in your case. The ALJ does not work for CPS and will listen to your arguments and review the evidence presented by CPS.
You are also allowed to present information that may be helpful to your case.
Additional questions about CPS Investigations? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you are in the midst of a CPS investigation remember that you have rights- it’s just a matter of having them enforced. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC to have your questions asked and to learn more about how we can help protect you and your family’s wellbeing.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Child Protective Services E-Book”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 2
- Child Protective Services: Investigation Essentials for Texas Families
- CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Visitation Modification
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
- Protective Orders in Texas Family Law Cases