...

What essential questions should I ask CPS?

One morning, child protection knocks on your door just as your kids board the school bus and you prepare for work. Your house is chaotic with dishes piled in the sink and dirty clothes strewn across the couch. While you haven’t even finished your morning coffee, a knock rushes you to the front door. Peering out, you spot an unfamiliar vehicle and a person holding a stack of papers, wearing an annoyed expression—not the most welcoming sight.

Upon opening the door, the visitor’s expression remains unchanged. She hands you her business card, displaying the Texas state star and various contact numbers, and introduces herself as a representative from the Texas Department of Family and Child Protection Services. Her badge bears her name, and she peers over your shoulder into your messy house. Now, you find yourself sharing her annoyance. What exactly is happening?

Being the subject of a CPS investigation means you need to quickly formulate a plan. CPS doesn’t simply disappear. Instead, imagine CPS as a persistent small dog from a movie that clings to your pant leg and refuses to let go. The more you struggle, the tighter its grip becomes. This metaphor probably paints a clear, albeit unpleasant, picture in your mind.

Fortunately, there are ways to effectively navigate the complexities of a CPS case. Such cases involve interactions with a state agency and demand a thorough understanding of potential outcomes for your family.

In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will guide you through essential questions to ask CPS during an investigation. Understanding your case starts with direct communication with the CPS investigator. Many parents, however, often feel unsure about what to ask or how to ask it.

This is where the experienced CPS defense attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan step in. We will help you identify the right questions and the optimal times to ask them. Additionally, we will offer insights to help you set realistic goals for your case, aiming to make your experience with CPS as brief and successful as possible.

Should you have any questions after reading this post, please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys provide free consultations six days a week—either in-person, over the phone, or via video. When dealing with CPS, it’s crucial to take no risks. Consulting with our attorneys will help you understand your case and determine the best course of action.

Question #1: Why are you here?

When Child Protection Services (CPS) first approaches, parents often have one fundamental question: Why are you here? While it may seem simple to ask, many find themselves overwhelmed. Almost immediately, the CPS investigator’s actions and tone can put you on the defensive. If you stay guarded, you might only respond to their inquiries rather than ask your own.

It’s important to be straightforward and ask CPS why they are visiting your home. This isn’t rude or disrespectful. CPS workers should remain civil and courteous while interacting with you and your family. However, they might not fully explain their actions or be transparent about their intentions. You’ll likely only receive crucial information if you actively question them.

Imagine still standing on your porch, facing the CPS caseworker. She might share her job role but not the reason for her visit. It’s easy to speculate—perhaps she’s here to inquire about your daughter or another child in the neighborhood. Instead of guessing, directly ask her the purpose of her visit. CPS is obligated to explain why they have contacted you.

Upon asking, you might learn that CPS received a report alleging your children were unsupervised on your front lawn. Now, they wish to gather more information and possibly speak with your children about the incident.

Knowing the reason for their visit helps you better understand how to respond. You aren’t required to allow CPS into your home or to speak with your children. You can politely refuse. However, participating in the investigation lets you provide your side of the story and not just leave it to what others might say.

We advise caution at this stage, as your actions can significantly impact the course of CPS’s investigation. Engaging with the investigation often proves beneficial, ensuring your perspective is considered. Consulting with a family law attorney from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help ensure you ask the right questions and give the most helpful responses possible.

Question #2: What are my rights?

In this child protection process, always remember that you have rights. Child Protective Services (CPS) might make you feel cornered and without options, but this is not true. Do not let CPS intimidate you or make you feel like a criminal, even if accusations of abuse or neglect can be distressing. It’s crucial to stay assertive for both your and your child’s sake. Once you know why CPS has come to your home, don’t hesitate to ask more questions.

One key question to ask the CPS investigator is about your rights during the investigation. You might already understand that this is an investigation, but knowing your rights is just as important. Keep the questions coming; find out what protections and actions you are entitled to during this process.

CPS workers might inform you of your rights, but unlike police officers during an arrest, they aren’t required to do so. You must advocate for yourself. No one will intervene on your behalf, so it’s essential to ask directly what your rights are during a CPS investigation.

You are entitled to legal representation in a CPS case. This means if CPS wants to meet with you, you can have your attorney present. You can also have any documents reviewed by your attorney before you respond to CPS. Your lawyer can communicate directly with CPS regarding any concerns or queries related to your case.

Having a seasoned CPS defense attorney is beneficial because they understand the process thoroughly and are not easily intimidated by CPS. While it’s important to respect the role of CPS and their often challenging job, you should also ensure the investigator conducts the process properly. Don’t just settle for understanding their presence at your home; continue to ask questions to better advocate for yourself and your child.

Question #3: What is the process?

A CPS case is fortunately very structured and follows a methodical process, ensuring predictability unlike some family law cases that can veer off in unexpected directions. In child protection cases, you can expect a clear timeline outlining key dates and events, making it easier to prepare for what’s next.

CPS must adhere to specific deadlines, aiming to conclude their investigations within a year from the start. This doesn’t necessarily mean your case will last that long, but it gives you an idea of the maximum timeframe and the steps involved to reach a resolution.

During the process, CPS will perform at least one home evaluation. Knowing when this evaluation will take place allows you to prepare both your home—such as tidying up and washing dishes—and your family for the visit. The better prepared you are, the more positive the impression you’ll make on the CPS investigator.

Lastly, CPS plans to interview you, your child, and any adults living in your home. However, participation in these interviews is voluntary unless CPS secures a court order mandating your involvement. Understanding the CPS process equips you with the knowledge to devise a solid plan and strategy for navigating the case.

Question #4: How can we cooperate?

Today’s final discussion relates directly to much of what we’ve already covered, including the crucial aspect of cooperation in a CPS investigation. The decision on how much you engage with CPS is entirely yours until a court intervenes. You are not required to communicate with CPS or make your child available unless mandated by the court. You could, theoretically, politely smile and close the door on the CPS investigator upon learning their purpose at your home.

However, choosing not to participate in a CPS investigation comes with consequences. CPS can proceed with their investigation regardless, and if the allegations are serious, they might remove your child from your home without your involvement. It’s important to consider engaging with CPS, especially if the information they possess contradicts your understanding of the situation involving your child.

Participation in the investigation, on the other hand, has its risks. You might unintentionally say something incorrect, become nervous, and leave a negative impression. While this may not be entirely your fault, it’s crucial to ensure your interactions with CPS focus on protecting your rights and serving your child’s best interests. Diving into a CPS investigation without support, a plan, or clear objectives is unwise.

Balancing your rights with the need to cooperate in a CPS investigation is a complex challenge. Having a skilled CPS defense attorney by your side can significantly enhance your chances of a favorable outcome. When facing the potential removal of your child, it’s essential to have a sensible plan. Collaborating with an experienced attorney from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is the most effective strategy for navigating a CPS investigation focused on child protection.

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’s circumstances may be impacted by a CPS investigation

Other Related Articles:

  1. Child Protective Services in Texas: Safeguarding Childhood and Shaping the Future
  2. Child Protective Services (CPS) in Texas and Marijuana Use: What Parents Need to Know
  3. Child Protective Services (CPS) and Marijuana: A Comprehensive Guide to Texas Law
  4. Understanding CPS Authority: Can Child Protective Services Require Drug Testing in Texas?
  5. Confidentiality in your Texas Child Protective Services case
  6. Drug Offenses and Child Protective Services (CPS)
  7. CPS Navigator Your Guide to Conquering Child Protective Services with Confidence!
  8. Here is what you should do when Child Protective Services knocks at your door
  9. Refusing Entry to Child Protective Services 
  10. Child Protective Services Investigations in Texas

Share this article

Category

Categories

Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Today!

At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

Plan Your Visit

Office Hours

Mon-Fri: 8 AM – 6 PM Saturday: By Appointment Only

"(Required)" indicates required fields