This blog post is the second in a series of posts that detail CPS investigations: what they are, how CPS conducts them and how you can present yourself most favorably during one.
Obviously there is no one size fits all prescription on how to handle yourself and your family when is investigating but the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC believe the information contained in these posts will be helpful to most any family facing an investigation.
Let’s begin this post by discussing what happens when CPS speaks to your child during the course of an investigation.
What happens with CPS interviews your child?
Unless your child is too young to communicate or otherwise unable to express him or herself, CPS will conduct an interview. If a report comes in to CPS that details an allegation of abuse or neglect against your child then expect to have your child interviewed.
Interviews can take place at your home, a CPS office, or your child’s daycare or school. The main subject areas that are focused on during a child-interview are:
- what actually happened during the alleged incident (or incidents) of abuse or neglect?
- whether the child feels safe in their home right now
- whether the child believes that future abuse or neglect will occur
- whether any abuse or neglect occurred in the first place
In order for the interview to take place in your home the CPS investigator must first get your permission.
Without your permission the interview will need to be conducted at another location. Regardless of where the interview takes place, the CPS investigator will want to speak to your child in a private place where your child feels comfortable to talk to him or her.
This means that even you, their parent, will most likely not be allowed to even listen to the interview.
On the other hand, if CPS wants to interview your child at school they must first get your permission to do so if you are at the school during the time of the interview. If you are not at the school then they can interview your child without your permission.
The big thing to note here is that if you’ve already denied the permission to interview your child at your home then CPS cannot side-step this denial by heading to the elementary school for the interview to be conducted.
Coaching your child prior to a CPS interview
Outside of providing advice to your child to tell CPS the truth, it is never appropriate to “coach” your child prior to a CPS interview. Never ask your child to lie to CPS, to phrase something a certain way or to emphasize/de-emphasize certain points.
CPS investigators are trained to look for telltale signs of coaching. What’s more- children are not good at masking the truth. Your effort to protect yourself will shine through your child’s answers and this will be a mark against you in the eyes of the investigation team.
The actual examination of your child
It is not only oral interviews that can be conducted on your child. CPS can also have medical, physical or even sexual abuse examinations done if the investigator believes that it is justified.
Just as it pertains to in school interviews, if you are available in person at the time of the examination then CPS needs to get your permission to have the examination conducted.
If a Court has ordered an examination be undertaken then CPS does not need to get your permission, however. CPS also does not have to get your permission to examine or interview your child if the child has been removed from your home.
To avoid any problems with obtaining your permission to conduct an examination it is likely that CPS will ask the Court for an Order.
As a warning, if a Court orders you to do something, then you will need to comply. It does not matter if you agree with the Order or not. Failing to abide by the terms of a Court’s order can result in your child being permanently removed from your home or even in the full termination of your rights as a parent.
Elements of a Physical Exam
A visual review of your child’s body is what a physical exam entails. The CPS worker can examine the child who is the alleged victim of abuse or neglect as well as any other child that lives in your home as well.
The CPS investigator is looking for cuts or bruises that may be evidence of abuse. In the case of neglect, poor hygiene, diaper rash (severe) or signs of malnutrition are being will be looked for. For female children, a female investigator will conduct the examination. Likewise for male children, a male investigator will conduct the investigation.
Elements of a Sexual Abuse Exam
If it is reported that your child has been the victim of sexual abuse then an examination will likely occur at a place called a Child Advocacy Center. Special interviewers who are trained in advanced methods of finding out information from children who are victims of sexual abuse may conduct the interview rather than the CPS investigator.
The above caveats apply to sexual abuse examinations as well. CPS must have the parent’s consent, a judge’s Order or temporary conservatorship of the child in order to conduct an examination.
As far as the actual physical examination of the child in the context of a sexual abuse investigation, a doctor or nurse will be needed to perform the exam. A CPS worker will not be the person administering the exam.
Part Three in a series of CPS blog posts upcoming from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you want to learn more about what happens when CPS actually inspects your home or what kind of records CPS can request of your children, keep an eye out for the next article in this series.
After reading any blog post on our website, if you find yourself having questions that need the answer of an attorney do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our attorneys are eager and willing to speak to you, answer your questions and show you how our Family Law attorneys can assist you and your family.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
- What can be done if CPS has taken possession of your child in Texas?
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 3
- Child Protective Services: Investigation Essentials for Texas Families
- CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Visitation Modification
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
- Protective Orders in Texas Family Law Cases
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 defenseLawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our CPS defenselawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact 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.