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Conquer CPS Drug Testing

Picture this: you come home from dropping your kids off at school. Your day is set to begin. Work responsibilities, picking up dry cleaning, and shopping for groceries. A typical day in your life. You turn the corner onto your quiet, suburban street to find a strange car parked in front of your house. It’s Wednesday. You’re not expecting any visitors- especially this early in the morning. As you drive closer to your home you see a person on your doorstep. You don’t recognize her, either. She has the posture of someone who is there with a particular purpose, as well. Now you start to get nervous.

After parking the car, you exit your vehicle and instead of going in through the back door, you walk down your driveway. The stranger is already crossing your lawn. She doesn’t even think to use the street or sidewalk- the nerve, right? Without extending her hand for a shake, she holds a business card in between two fingers of her left hand. Instinctively you take the card from her.

It tells you her name and says that she works for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Your eyes are still fixed on the card when she tells you that she is here to talk to you about an incident involving your son. Now you are confused. What could be going on?

CPS means business

You start to ask questions. Anyone would in your situation. Your mind is reeling through events that involve your son. Before you arrive at any event which may be of interest, the DFPS employee interjects. She tells you that a report has come into their office that you have been using drugs in front of your children. She doesn’t have to say the name of her “office”- you have already thought through where that office is.

Child Protective Services must be where she works- CPS, in other words. Have you ever been minding your business on the road while driving? You’re not speeding, not breaking any laws. You see a police officer pull into your lane. What do you do immediately? If you’re anything like me your mind starts to cycle through every traffic infraction that I have ever incurred. Even though that police officer wants nothing to do with you or me, we still feel like we’ve done something wrong.

That’s what happens with CPS. Any parent hears about CPS and it’s enough to make us more tense and nervous than we have a right to be. A parent knows what CPS is capable of and how they treat people from time to time. With that, you want to find out more about why CPS is there. What sort of report did they receive about drug use?

A report of neglect seriously impacts a family

Simply put, the CPS caseworker tells you that the report received has to do with you using marijuana in front of your children on occasion. She gives no more information. You ask who made this report. The caseworker tells you that she does not know the identity of the informant. In any event, CPS keeps that information confidential. This is to protect the identity of the person who made the report.

At this point, you have nothing more to say. You’ve seen enough television shows involving the police to know that what you say is critical to an investigation. This is not exactly a criminal matter but it is close enough. The last thing you want to do is compromise yourself.

The CPS caseworker requests several things from you. To speak to you about the allegations is first. To speak to your son is next. After that, she asks for the contact information of any adult who lives in your household. Last, the caseworker asks to take a look around your home. Sounds invasive. Does she have a warrant to come inside? Does she need one? At this juncture, you have more questions than answers.

What would you do if CPS showed up at your house unannounced?

This is the question that is worth its weight in gold. What would you do if CPS showed up at your home at a random time with no notice? Would you know how to act? You may have a lot to say at this moment. However, when you come face to face with a CPS caseworker your mind may go blank. You may stammer. It could be that you made the wrong decision.

The bottom line in a situation like this is that you need to have a plan. Developing a game plan to deal with CPS in a situation like this means being intentional and thinking the situation through. Working with an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is how to develop that plan. We waste no time in helping our clients. From the moment you sign up with our office, our attorneys get to work to protect and advance your rights.

Does this sound like a plan to you? Have you been looking out for a plan but didn’t know where to start? Allow our office to provide you with that plan. We offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week. These consultations allow you to ask questions and receive important feedback about your particular circumstances. With multiple offices in and around the Houston area (and San Antonio), we have what it takes to help you.

What does CPS do?

You have a general understanding of what CPS does but are not entirely confident you know what these folks do. CPS, as part of the Department of Family and Protective Services, aims to protect children from harm. The type of harm that CPS primarily defends children against is abuse or neglect. Abuse means physical or sexual abuse primarily. Neglect refers to placing a child into or failing to remove a child from a situation where there is a foreseeable risk of harm.

With this in mind, we need to talk about what we are going to do in our hypothetical situation. The first situation that comes up is whether to allow CPS access to your home. The caseworker is right there in front of your home. Should you let her enter? CPS does not have a right to enter your home at this stage of a case without your permission. You can allow them entry or deny it to them. It’s completely up to you how to proceed at this point in the case.

When CPS obtains a court order, that changes. CPS can talk with their attorneys and obtain a court order to enter your home. At that point, the CPS employee will come back with a police officer and will enter your home to look around. CPS may even have an order which clears them to take temporary possession of your child. The stakes start to get higher at this point.

Allowing CPS to enter your home

CPS will ask you to come into your home to take a look around. You can grant them access. They will take photographs of what they find. You may allow them in, and they find nothing that supports the report made to them previously. This is a good thing. CPS will conduct their investigation similarly to a police officer. They are in information-collecting mode the entire time.

This is why CPS will also ask to interview you, your child, and any other person in your household. The more information they have they gain a better idea about the report made. Depending upon how confident you are that you did nothing wrong you may allow them to speak to you. However, if there is a small amount of truth to the report made to CPS you need to think about allowing them access to your home.

Not allowing CPS access to your home means that they cannot collect information on your case- yet. We already covered how CPS can obtain a court order and speak to your child or enter your home without your permission. On the other hand, talking to CPS or allowing them access to your home opens you up to potential liability. What if you forgot to put away something that makes you look suspicious? Or what if your house isn’t clean?

CPS removal of children

CPS cannot remove your child without a court order in most circumstances. Typically CPS must have a temporary managing conservatorship over your child to allow them to remove him or her from your home. Without that temporary conservatorship gained through a court, it cannot remove your child. The exception to this is that the court will remove your child if there is an immediate threat to your child’s safety in the home. Even then, CPS must go to court and obtain a temporary conservatorship over your child within forty-eight hours of removal.

Once CPS removes your child a timeline unfolds involving courts and hearings. CPS will work with you to address the issues found in its investigation. Suspicion of using drugs in front of your child is a serious matter. Part of your safety plan may be to remove all drug paraphernalia from your home. Additionally, you will need to start attending narcotics anonymous courses and other therapy.

The failure to attend this coursework means that your child will continue to reside outside your home. When you continue to not attend these courses or otherwise care for your child CPS may eventually recommend to a judge to have your parental rights terminated. How you act within the CPS case determines the course of your case.

CPS collects information about drug use

CPS caseworkers use the tools at their disposal to investigate your supposed drug use. The purpose of their investigation is to obtain evidence that is admissible in court to prove or substantiate substance abuse. Right off the top, we have already talked about collecting information through personal observation. CPS caseworkers train to learn about these substances during an investigation. What do they look like? On top of that, what does the paraphernalia associated with them look like?

Speaking to others that no you in our familiar with your habits is the other way that CPS will attempt to gain information about your drug use initially. This is why any person who lives in your household are likely to speak to CPS at the outset of the case. CPS will also work to speak to your child at their school without your permission.

The other method of collecting information about substance abuse relates to home visitations and observation. There are three aspects to a home visit. First, is there an immediate threat of harm to your child inside the home? Second, are there materials or substances in the home that produce drugs? Finally, what of these substances are within reach of a small child?

Details on drug testing

Once CPS gets to the point where they are investigating your home and your family they certainly ask you to submit a drug test. The CPS caseworker asks you about any prescriptions for the medications that you are taking. Next, the caseworker will record this information in their records to inform the drug testing body in the event you test positive for any substance.

A CPS caseworker requests a drug test when a court has ordered that you undergo a drug testing period this would be after any hearing before a judge. The nature of your substance abuse may lead a judge to believe that you are actively using illegal drugs. In that case, drug testing will occur. The failure to submit to a drug test will almost certainly result in your child remaining outside of your home.

Ultimately, CPS wants to keep your child safe. The agency will provide you with recovery information and allow you to attend therapy based on your specific needs. Having an experienced family law attorney can help keep you accountable to this recovery plan. The more accountable to the recovery plan that you are the greater the likelihood that your child is returned home to you quickly.

Taking prescriptions or substances for a medical reason

CPS caseworkers are trained to ask questions about any medical conditions or diagnosis associated with your use of a substance. Specific questions will be asked of you about any kind of condition, diagnosis, disorder, or other illness that you may be suffering from. Your length of time having this condition as well as the Doctor who treats you for the condition will be asked of you. CPS will likely ask you for permission to contact this treating provider.

What is a drug screen?

A drug screen is a sample collected by CPS that will not have confirmation attached to it from a laboratory. An example of this is when an oral swab of your mouth is taken. Additionally, pregnant women are often drug screened at various points during the pregnancy. Typical locations for drug screens include emergency rooms, prenatal care visits as well as visits to see a primary care doctor.

More typically these days, drug screens are taken via a urinalysis before a baby is born. This is to confirm whether the mother has any kind of infectious disease. The newborn baby will need to be treated for These conditions immediately after his or her birth. Drug screening results are not admissible in court, however, as evidence.

What is a drug test?

A drug test is a submitted sample that is not only screened preliminarily but is confirmed through a secondary source to test its findings. A drug test is lab-confirmed and admissible in court. The CPS caseworker assigned to your case will require that you be drug tested within 48 hours of a threat being determined in your case.

Essentially, if substance abuse is suspected of you from the beginning of your case you will need to be drug tested within 48 hours of the case beginning. A negative drug test result means that the drug test did not detect any substances. A positive result, on the other hand, confirms that you have used or been exposed to a substance during the time frame the test is designed to detect.

Where can you go from here?

With so much up in the air during a CPS case, it is incredibly important for you to have a plan and a way to protect your family. Working with an experienced family law attorney is the best way for you to protect yourself and advance the rights of your child. Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us today and we hope you will join us again tomorrow.

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. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.