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How far back does CPS background check go?

When Child Protective Services starts an investigation into you or a family member then a CPS caseworker will most likely come out to your home to visit with you, the relevant adult in your home, and the child who was named in the report regarding abuse or neglect. The caseworker will likely ask questions about the report that was made to determine if the events described in the report occurred, or not. It is common for CPS to ask for a list of any adults that your child commonly meets. Once this basic information is collected then a criminal and background search will be conducted for all adults living in the home with your child. Depending upon the circumstances of the report and the nature of the abuse or neglect alleged, the investigation may be brief or extremely thorough.

What happens during a Child Protective Services investigation?

If an investigation into your family is opened then the CPS caseworker will attempt to interview you, your children, and any other people that live in your home or may have been a witness to the incident or incidents in question. A risk assessment would be done, and the possibility of a safety plan will be discussed with you, your co-parent, and any other adult who cares for your child. A safety plan seeks to establish certain methods of caring for your child with an overall emphasis on keeping him or her safe moving forward. The safety plan may involve fixing dangerous conditions in your home, attending counseling for anger management, or even asking people who present a risk of harm to your child to move out.

One of the toughest parts of a family law case is having to determine whether to allow your child to participate in an interview with CPS during one of their investigations. Even if you are not the person who is being named as someone who has abused or neglected your child it is still difficult to decide whether to allow your child to potentially speak to CPS about an event that was possibly traumatic. On the other hand, you may find yourself in a position where the only way that CPS or law enforcement can hold the person responsible accountable is to have your child recount what happened so additional information can be gained. Without a doubt, this is not a situation that you necessarily would feel overly comfortable in but it may be necessary.

While your child is in daycare, school, or otherwise outside of your sight you can refuse to allow another person to interview your child on behalf of CPS. Please note that CPS can ask a judge for permission to speak to your child without your permission. CPS interviews usually are recorded either with video, sound, or both. Your interview with CPS could occur relatively soon after the investigation begins. Again, you do not have to participate in the interview if you do not want to. This is an important point in your case. Even though speaking to CPS is not the same as speaking to law enforcement, what you say to CPS can still be used against you by the agency in judicial proceedings that may involve them attempting to remove your child.

With the stakes being so high it makes a lot of sense for you to have an experienced family law attorney by your side during a case like this. The idea of having your child removed from your home is so difficult for many parents to think about that it would be understandable to not dwell on it and instead focus on some other aspect of a case. However, that is why you need to focus your attention on the subject so intently. While it is possible to get your child back home after he or she has been removed it can take some time and effort to do so. Many times, your child cannot be returned home to you until after multiple hearings have occurred. While getting your child home as soon as possible is the goal, it is still not a situation that you want to find yourself in unprepared.

Working with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is the best way to prepare yourself for the difficulties associated with a CPS case. The fact is that you do not know where a CPS case is going to go- as far as whether your child is going to be removed from your home, how long the case will take, what sort of requirements are going to be put into place by CPS to get your child home and many other factors. On top of this, it is difficult to speak to CPS outside of court. Their caseworkers and supervisors work on many cases at the same time- including your child's. Getting someone on the phone to provide you with an update on how your child is doing can be easier said than done.

Our attorneys know how to work alongside parents who are going through a difficult time with CPS. From advocating for parents inside of court to negotiations with CPS, our attorneys are skilled when it comes to CPS cases. We pride ourselves on obtaining favorable results for our clients in these types of cases. What does favorable mean? Closing cases, reuniting families, and getting you into a good position for your family to thrive for many years after the CPS case has come to an end. Please contact us today for a free of charge consultation to go over your situation with CPS and to learn valuable information that can help you and your family.

Does CPS speak to the person who is alleged to have abused or neglected your child?

CPS will reach out to the person who is accused of having abused or neglected your child to try and learn more information about the incident in question. The person, whether it is you or another person, does not have to submit an interview request with CPS. If you or another person choose to speak to CPS about the investigation it is important to understand that you are not entitled to have an attorney appointed to represent you in that interview. However, if a court case begins and you cannot afford to pay for an attorney to represent you in that case an attorney can be provided for you by the court.

Other members of your household, including family members, may be contacted by CPS and asked if he or she is willing to commit to an interview regarding the investigation. As a parent, you will be asked to provide a list of names to the courts as far as people who frequently interact with the child and their contact information if you have it. Criminal background searches will also be conducted on these people that CPS may request to interview. As we mentioned earlier, the people that submit to an interview with CPS need to do so and prepare to have an honest talk with CPS about the situation and what they know. The words they choose can be used against them later on in a case.

What can you do as a parent?

All these steps may be ongoing at the same time. You may be asked for an interview by CPS. Your spouse may be asked to interview with CPS as well. Family members and people that know your child could be contacted by CPS. CPS could ask to go through your home to see how the conditions are. Your child may even be asked to speak to the agency. That is a lot of moving parts that are happening all at once. It is a lot to keep straight and would be enough for any parent to begin to feel overwhelmed. What can you do to keep yourself focused on the goal of doing what is best for your child during an unfamiliar situation?

One thing that can keep you focused is that the CPS caseworker may ask you to provide documentation about a particular subject to the agency so that their investigation can be as thorough and fair as possible. These documents could be doctor's records, shot records, or records of how your child is performing in school. If you are not able to obtain these documents for CPS, the agency may ask for you to sign a document that will permit them to do so.

What happens during a CPS home visit?

As we mentioned a moment ago, CPS will likely reach out to you to see if you will permit them to conduct what is known as a home visit. As a baseline, CPS will try to determine whether your home is safe for a child to live in. Are there conditions in the home that a dangerous? Is there enough food, water, and clothing available for your child? Who is living in the home and what sort of threat, if any, does the person present to your child? You do not have to let CPS into your home.

What CPS is trying to figure out from the outset of your case is the level of risk that is apparent in the home. Before an investigation wraps up CPS will determine as to a risk assessment. The first outcome of that risk assessment is to note that there is a risk indicated. When the caseworker determines that there are certain risk factors present in your home those will be identified to family members and community resources will be pointed out to you and your family that may be able to remove those risks and put your child in a position where he or she can be safer.

If the risk levels are controlled, then your caseworker has determined that there were risk factors that existed in your home but that those risks are now under control. This usually happens after community resources have been identified and then used effectively by the family. What CPS is trying to ensure for your child is stability in their home environment. Once stability can be assessed then the agency can move towards closing its investigation into your family.

When no significant risk factors are noted by CPS then the caseworker can readily close the investigation. While no one can guarantee that there will be no risks that are part of a child's life, the agency would at least like to put your child in a position where they can determine the risks of harm to your child are minimal. When you and your co-parent can be able to help your child avoid situations where he or she may put in a harmful situation that is the best of both worlds.

What can the outcomes be of a CPS case?

There are a range of outcomes that could occur because of the CPS case. For one, after an investigation into your family, the CPS caseworker will issue one of these determinations regarding the report that came into CPS of either abuse or neglect that occurred concerning your child. If a reason to believe the finding is made, then the caseworker is saying that based on the available evidence abuse or neglect of your child has occurred. At this stage, you may be invited to participate in family-based social services as a method to help you connect with resources that can help you be able to learn different tricks and tools as to how you can avoid problems in the future with CPS.

Sometimes it is obvious to CPS that abuse or neglect of your child has occurred. For instance, CPS could find that your child was abused due to bruising or other signs of being hit. However, if the relevant parties fail to participate in the investigation an unable to determine designation may result. An unable-to-determine designation means that there is not enough evidence to officially determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred, but all signs point to that type of finding.

What you are looking for as a parent when you become involved with a CPS investigation is to have CPS rule out any allegations made against you or a family member of abuse or neglect. The caseworker would have been able to engage in a full-fledged investigation into the circumstances around your child and would have collected sufficient evidence to determine that abuse or neglect of your child did not happen. These are the three main findings that can result from a CPS case.

How does CPS learn about abuse or neglect in the community?

CPS does not have a caseworker standing on the corner of every neighborhood in Texas scoping things out to determine if abuse or neglect has occurred. Rather, CPS has set up various methods for people to be able to report instances of abuse or neglect that they have witnessed. This is typically done over the phone via one of their hotlines. CPS has employees who take down the information of anonymous reporters regarding incidents of abuse or neglect that they have witnessed. Those reports will be sent to the CPS investigators for that geographic area to be investigated. The investigations that we have talked about in today’s blog post will occur once a report is sent out.

Closing Thoughts on CPS Cases

What you need to remember about a CPS case is that how you react to the investigation will depend in large part on your specific circumstances and the nature of the allegation made against you or someone in your household. When there is a serious allegation that is being made you need to take note of it and act as if your child may be removed from your home. You can determine with the help of an experienced CPS defense attorney whether to participate in the investigation or not. It may be that you need to hire a lawyer to help you negotiate elements of a safety plan or even a visitation plan with your child if he or she needs to be removed. Certainly, once you get into a courtroom portion of a case it is best to have a lawyer by your side to assist you. Whatever the circumstances that you find yourself in, you should have a plan about how you want to proceed. It is not enough to want to protect your child. You need to have a plan as to how you are going to see that goal put into action.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

Other Related Articles

  1. What happens if I ignore CPS?
  2. What does it mean when a CPS report is made against you in Texas?
  3. What happens when someone makes a report to CPS
  4. How do you fight a false CPS report?
  5. What Happens If You Run From Cps In Texas
  6. What Kinds of Questions can CPS ask a Child?
  7. Can CPS text you?
  8. When CPS Doesn’t Follow the Law- what you should know
  9. How do you know if a CPS case is closed?
  10. What are my rights when CPS comes to my House?

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