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What Role Can Foster Care Play in Your Texas Child Protective Services Case?

Based on my experiences, I’ve observed that nearly every family engaged in a Texas CPS case harbors worries about their child’s potential placement in foster care. This concern is entirely understandable, and I empathize with your position. Facing a CPS lawsuit with your parental rights at stake can feel overwhelmingly daunting. I always stress the importance of being well-prepared and acting deliberately during family law cases. However, this advice becomes even more critical when navigating a Child Protective Services case alongside your family.

I believe that you need to be twice as prepared for a CPS case as you would for a typical family law case because the stakes are higher in a CPS case. In a divorce or child custody case, you will be able to present evidence as to why your children should spend a specific amount of time with you.

Navigating the burden of proof in CPS cases

In a Child Protective Services case, we can feel like the burden of proof is on your shoulders to prove that you are a fit parent capable of caring for your child. In truth, the burden of proof is on the shoulders of the state of Texas to justify the continued removal of your child from your home. However, I can tell you from experience that parents begin to feel like the scales of justice are clipped against them when it comes to returning a child to their home.

As anyone will tell you who has been through a family law case before, perception is almost as important as reality. If you begin to feel like your ability to care for your children and spend meaningful time with them is slipping through your fingertips, then you would understandably begin to act in desperation to be able to maintain your status as that child’s primary caregiver. If you are anything like me, that desperation can lead to poor decision-making and even worse outcomes. As a result, I would recommend that you take the necessary time to learn about important aspects of a Texas Child Protective Services case so that you can separate truth from Fiction.

What happens when and if your child is removed from your home?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself about a CPS case. At least in a typical child custody or divorce case, you know where your child will be sleeping every night. That would either be at your home or that of your child’s other parent. However, your child may be removed from your home as a result of a CPS investigation. At that point, your ability to determine with whom your child lives for some time is very much up in the air. As a result, I would like to spend some time talking to you about the removal process.

Before anything else, it’s crucial to understand that CPS removal from your home isn’t a given occurrence. It arises in two situations: either for immediate harm or ongoing risk to your child. Even if removal does occur, it’s typically temporary, aiming to allow you to address any safety concerns or follow CPS safety plans involving home improvements or counseling.

At the end of the day, Child Protective Services does not go into your case to remove your child unless they can help it. Keep in mind that it is a tremendous responsibility for Child Protective Services and the state of Texas to be in temporary custody and hold conservatorships rights about your child. As a result, you can rest assured that the removal of your child will be the absolute last option that they choose to undertake. The safety and well-being of your child must certainly be at risk of immediate harm for them to decide to take your child out of your home.

Deciding child placement when CPS is involved

Once granted permission by a judge to determine temporary living arrangements for your child, CPS must then decide where your child will reside while away from your home. You will often be able to factor into this decision by providing Child Protective Services with information regarding family or friends who could fill this role. CPS will usually contact you and collaborate on filling out paperwork, enabling background checks, criminal history checks, and in-home visits to determine the suitability of potential caregivers.

If the state determines that none of the persons you provide to them are suitable caretakers or you cannot provide information about alternative caregivers, then CPS may need to place your child into foster care for the duration or at least for part of the duration of your family law case. The circumstances surrounding your child’s placement into foster care may not be the best, but the state of Texas will seek to ensure your child’s safety for as long as they are out of your home.

Common questions regarding foster care in Texas during a CPS case

The first question that parents ask either their attorney or a CPS caseworker after their child’s removal is why they have to go into foster care? When CPS determines that a child has experienced abuse or neglect, or is at risk of it, a judge may order the child to be placed into foster care temporarily. Typically, CPS will look to place your child with a familiar face, such as a family friend or relative, but this is not possible in some instances. Foster care acts as another source of care for your children when need be.

You will likely appear in court before a judge at least once before your child is placed into foster care. This provides you and your attorney, if you have one, with an opportunity to present evidence supporting the return of your child to your home, or alternatively, why placement with a relative or friend is in the child’s best interest. The judge will then be able to consider the arguments of both CPS and yourself before deciding your child’s placement.

What to expect in child protective services and foster care

Child Protective Services may temporarily remove your child from your home and place them in foster care while alternative living arrangements are made. If there’s a quick fix at your home that allows for your child’s return, they may stay in foster care for a brief period. Conversely, if CPS is investigating family friends or relatives previously provided to you, foster care may serve as a temporary solution for your child during this period.

Regardless of your stance, attending court hearings is essential. Disagreeing with the proceedings doesn’t justify non-participation. Unlike a relative’s actions that may prompt you to skip events, Child Protective Services is integral to your case. Thus, attending hearings requested by CPS is crucial for your interests.

When you are in court, you should expect that the judge treats all parties with respect and may even seem collegial or friendly with the other parties. Keep in mind that CPS court judges tend to work with CPS personnel, attorneys in guardians at Litem, in counties across Texas, and other persons regularly. Just because you see a judge acting friendly or cordial with other people involved in your case does not mean that they have it in for you or favors other parties over you. Overall, it is wise to show concern for your child and their well-being by attending every court date scheduled in your case.

It is not likely that you will be provided an attorney by the court right off the bat. On the contrary, you would need to show that you cannot afford or acquire an attorney despite your best efforts. At that point, the court can formally appoint an attorney for you, especially if your case progresses to the point where your parental rights may be terminated.

Having an attorney in your CPS case is incredibly crucial. There are a lot of moving pieces associated with the CPS case. As a result, you must be aware of what is going on with the case and to what extent you must be Present for court appearances, meetings, social services, and other events associated with your case. An attorney helps advise you on certain elements of your case and ensures that you are on time for meetings and court appearances. Just having another person there to help keep you accountable for the process is very important.

You should also be aware that your child will be appointed their attorney to represent them during the pendency of the case. This attorney is known as an attorney ad litem. The ad litem attorney represents your child’s interests and desires. An attorney ad litem will meet with your child and make recommendations to the court about future placement options and issues impacting your child throughout the case. Your child’s interests may differ from yours during the case, and that is why they will be provided with their attorney through the court.

What are the major court appearances in a CPS case?

At the outset of your CPS case, if your child is removed from your care without a court order, a judge will schedule a hearing for your case within three days. This hearing enables the court to understand why your child was removed from your home and determine if it’s in your child’s best interest to remain outside the home until a second hearing can be arranged. If the judge decides your child is in danger while in your care, they may remain in Foster care.

Key hearings in a CPS case: understanding the process

Within two weeks of your child’s removal from your home, an adversarial hearing will take place. This is typically the second hearing in a CPS case, where a judge will determine whether to return your child home to you or if the risk of neglect continues. If your child is not returned home, they may be placed with a relative, family member, or remain in foster care. Importantly, the adversarial hearing allows you to present your side of the story with evidence to support your position.

A status hearing Will be held within 60 days of your child’s being placed in foster care. The purpose of this hearing is to make sure that a family Service plan is in place and to allow you to confirm the understanding that this Service plan is the main path you can take to have your child returned home to you. Status hearings will allow all parties to connect and check in on one another to determine how you are progressing in your Service plan and whether or not it is feasible to have your child returned home to you.

Eventually, the subject matter of your CPS case will shift towards discussing a permanency plan. Typically, around 5:00 or six months after the first adversary hearing, the court will review your progress in any service plans or safety plans. You create these plans in collaboration with CPS to assist you in meeting the requirements outlined in the initial court appearances. You may need to attend anger management counseling, drug counseling, family therapy, or other classes aimed at addressing personal challenges.

Navigating CPS proceedings: ensuring parental rights

CPS will submit a permanency report to the judge that includes Their view of how you are progressing through your safety plan and their preference for where your child will end up permanently after your CPS case. You can expect to attend permanency court hearings every four months until your case is resolved.

Typically, the end stage of almost every CPS case will be a trial. Your goal in this hearing is to have your child returned home to you permanently by presenting evidence of how you have complied with the requests of CPS and how your home no longer presents a risk of harm to your child. If you have shown no willingness to participate in planning for your child during the case, a judge may initiate proceedings to terminate your parental rights and begin the process of adopting your child.

If you stay in touch with your child during the CPS case and demonstrate a willingness to participate in service planning, it is highly unlikely that your parental rights will be terminated. Remember that you and your attorney will play a role in developing service plans. As a result, you should expect that a judge will hold you responsible for living up to the terms of those plans as a result. Well, everyone’s circumstances are different; you can rest assured that almost certainly, the goal of CPS will be to have your child return to your home so long as you participate in the process of following these Service plans.

Conclusion

The specter of foster care looms large for many families entangled in Texas CPS cases, representing a deeply concerning prospect as parental rights hang in the balance. This reality underscores the critical need for thorough preparation and deliberate action when navigating such complex legal proceedings. While the challenges may seem daunting, it’s essential for families to stay informed, seek appropriate legal guidance, and approach the situation with determination. By doing so, families can better navigate the complexities of CPS cases, mitigate the risk of child removal, and work towards securing the best possible outcome for their loved ones.

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  1. Foster Care, Child Protective Services and Your Texas Family
  2. What are the different foster care environments your child could be placed into?
  3. What you need to know about the Texas foster care system before a CPS case
  4. The average cost associated with hiring a junior attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to represent you in a Child Protective Services case
  5. Child Protective Services Investigation
  6. Child Protective Services Removal Phase
  7. Child Protective Services Conservatorship Phase
  8. What is a plan of service in connection with a Texas Child Protective Services case?
  9. Child Neglect in Texas: Preparing for a CPS case
  10. Child Abuse in Texas: What is the process like In a Child Protective Services case?
  11. How can your relatives play into a Texas Child Protective Services case?
  12. Will Child Protective Services talk to children outside of the parent’s presence?
Categories: CPS

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