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Will CPS Speak to Your Child During an Investigation in Texas?

Are you curious about the extent of Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations and their interaction with your child at school? If you’re navigating this process for the first time and feeling uncertain about what lies ahead, you might be wondering if CPS will engage directly with your child while they’re at school. It’s natural to have questions and concerns about how CPS operates and what their involvement might entail.

One important aspect to consider is that CPS may indeed speak with your child as part of their investigation, particularly if they believe it’s necessary to gather information relevant to the case. This can happen at school if CPS deems it appropriate and within their jurisdiction. Understanding the scope of CPS involvement can help you prepare and navigate this challenging situation with greater clarity.

The answer to that question is that, yes, CPS will most likely speak to your child during the investigation into whether or not your child has been the victim of abuse or neglect. CPS has the right to interview any child who has been the reported victim of abuse or neglect. The interview may take at any location or time that is reasonable. This includes your home or your child’s school or daycare.

There are some specific areas of subject matter that the CPS investigator will be most interested in. Those would include whether or not the alleged incident(s) of abuse or neglect occurred, what happened during those incidents, and whether your child feels safe living with you. Finally, their opinion as to whether or not abuse or neglect will occur again in the future will be asked.

What will happen if CPS attempts to interview your child in your home?

CPS may want to interview your child in a place where he or she is comfortable. Your house would be a logical setting with this goal in mind. However, to interview your child at home, an investigator must seek your permission to do so. Nobody with CPS should force you to give your permission. Remember that anyone caring for your child- like a relative or babysitter- can permit CPS for an interview of your child to take place in your home.

If you grant permission and CPS initiates an interview with your child in your home, they will likely not allow you in the same room. The reason for this is that CPS does not want you to distract or otherwise influence the responses that your child gives to the questions of the CPS investigator.

Therefore, you might feel tempted to coach your child to give specific responses to anticipated questions. Pressuring a child to answer in a certain way is a bad idea on many levels. For one, it will make you look terrible in the eyes of the CPS investigator. Attempting to lie or act deceitfully with the investigation can come back to haunt you if you get into a situation where your case goes in front of a judge. The other relevant consideration is that your child, depending on their age, probably will struggle to distinguish between the truth and what you want your child to say. The result will likely be your child struggling to give any kind of coherent answer.

Interviewing your child at school

Other than in your home, the next most likely place for an interview to occur would be at your child’s school. The rules associated with interviewing your child at school versus in your home are a bit different. First of all, if you are at school when CPS wants to interview your child, you must permit them to do so. However, if you are not at the school, CPS is free to interview your child without your permission. From my experience, if you do not permit CPS to interview your child at home, then they may seek to do so “behind your back” while your child is at school.

If CPS does interview your child without your knowledge while he or she is in school, they must notify you of their having done so within 24 hours of conducting the interview. An interpreter must be provided to your child if he or she has communication problems in English. Hearing, speech, or cognitive issues may also limit your child’s ability to communicate effectively with CPS. The agency needs to assist your child as needed.

How an examination of your child could work

Depending upon the type of allegations made against you about your child, CPS can request a range of different examinations. Physical, sexual abuse, or medical examinations are the most commonly encountered. If you are present when the CPS employee wants to conduct an examination, they must ask for your permission. If a court has ordered the exam, then your permission is not necessary. Once your child is removed from your home, CPS does not need your permission to conduct any exams on them.

Keep in mind that CPS can always ask a court for an order. This order grants them the authority to examine your child even if you decline to permit them to do so. The court is likely to grant the request if CPS presents even a small amount of evidence of its necessity. Once a court order is in place, you need to abide by it. Attempting to prevent your child from undergoing an exam after receiving a court order may backfire and could lead to you being found in contempt of court.

What occurs during a physical exam as conducted by CPS?

A visual exam of your child will be likely if your child has been the reported victim of abuse or neglect. CPS can also examine other children, such as siblings, living in your household, even if they were not named in any report received. They will look for obvious physical injuries, malnourishment, evidence of poor hygiene practices, or other signs of abuse or neglect during the examination.

What occurs during a sexual abuse exam as conducted by CPS?

If your child has experienced sexual abuse or severe physical trauma, they will likely be taken to a special child advocacy center for an interview. Photographs of any injuries may be taken, and tests administered to determine if sexual abuse has occurred.

These exams are only conducted under specific circumstances. CPS would need your consent, a court order allowing the exam, or temporary conservatorship of your child for a sexual abuse exam. Additionally, your caseworker or investigator will not conduct the exam; a doctor or nurse will be brought in for this purpose.

What occurs during a medical exam as conducted by CPS?

A medical exam may be requested by the CPS employee that you are working with within your investigation. If the report that came into CPS details some sort of allegation that your child has suffered injuries that are not readily apparent with a typical visual inspection, a medical exam may be necessary. Also, CPS may want a doctor’s opinion about a condition that may have caused an injury to your child. If you consent to the exam in writing or attend the exam, then it can proceed.

What goes on in a home inspection during a CPS case?

CPS can stop by your home to inspect at any time (within reason). They do not need to provide you with any notice of their intent to do so. When the CPS worker comes to your door, he or she must identify themselves and tell you who he or she is. Your permission to enter the home must be obtained, or inspection cannot occur- at least on that day. Be aware that even if CPS arrives with a police officer or constable, they cannot enter your home without your permission or a warrant to do so. Police officers attend these sorts of inspections if your caseworker believes their safety to be at risk.

Your spouse, a relative living in your home, an older child, or even a babysitter, can permit CPS to enter your home if you are not there to do so. If you are aware that CPS has attempted to enter your home to conduct an inspection and are not willing to provide your consent for them to do so, you need to warn any other person in the house and instruct them not to permit CPS to enter. You may find that an inspection has occurred without your knowledge or consent if you fail to do so.

What happens if you say “yes” to allowing CPS to inspect your home?

The investigator would appreciate being granted access to your home. These professionals often encounter resistance from individuals who refuse them entry regularly. This could potentially lead to the need for obtaining a court order for access. While some may argue that the CPS caseworker would prefer immediate access upon their initial request, it’s crucial to acknowledge that prioritizing their satisfaction isn’t your obligation and may not benefit you. However, it’s imperative to understand that any safety issues discovered in your home could increase the likelihood of your child being removed from your care.

What happens if you say “no” to allowing CPS to inspect your home?

A response of “no” to the question of whether or not CPS has permission to enter your home to conduct an inspection could cause the CPS caseworker to form a negative opinion of you. You may be viewed as a “difficult” person, which could affect how the investigation proceeds. Again, your job is not to be your investigator’s best friend or to be the most pleasant person in the world. Your job is to do what is best for your child and yourself. That could mean not granting access to your home at the first opportunity.

Again, CPS can ask a judge to permit them to enter your home. If the situation calls for it, the CPS investigator can enter your home without your consent if he or she perceives your child to be in a dangerous situation. Exigent circumstances are what a police officer would call them. If there isn’t enough time to obtain a court order, CPS may seek immediate entrance. Removal of your child is all that CPS can do under these circumstances.

Unless the CPS report alleges severe circumstances leaving no alternative, they probably won’t enter your home without permission. You need to be aware of what your house contains before allowing permission to enter. Even minor issues like dirty laundry piles or ants on old food can prompt CPS to remove your child.

Conclusion

It’s natural to have concerns about CPS interacting with your child at school. However, understanding their potential involvement can provide clarity and help you prepare for any necessary conversations or actions. Understanding the scope of CPS authority can empower you to navigate this process with greater confidence. It ensures the best outcome for your family, whether CPS engages with your child at school or not.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

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  2. CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
  3. Take control of your child’s CPS case by following these tips
  4. How to stand up for yourself during a Texas CPS case
  5. How to prevent a second CPS investigation after your first concludes
  6. Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
  7. When can CPS remove your child from your home in Texas and what can you do about it?
  8. What to do if you no longer like your CPS service plan?
  9. In what circumstances could your child end up living with your relative during a CPS case?
  10. What can a CPS investigation into your family mean now and in the future?
  11. What to do if your spouse is being investigated by CPS in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
  12. Can CPS photograph your house and request your child’s medical records in Texas?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas CPS Defense Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding CPS, it’s important to speak with one of our Houston, TX CPS defense Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our CPS defense lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles CPS defense cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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