As we have spent the past few weeks discussing the subject, you can hopefully tell that a CPS case can be complicated, challenging, stressful, and rewarding all at the same time. You will be pushed in terms of your patience and ability to manage your expectations and emotions. If you are not a details person, you are in for a tough time with a case like this.
The key to maximizing the benefits available to you in being involved with a CPS case is to become organized and treat this like a full-time job. Yes, even if you already have a full-time job, you will be tasked with the responsibility level of another occupation. Of course, you can treat the case as just another annoyance that will come into your life and then fade away. Nobody tells you that you have to treat the case like your life depends on it. However, it is my experience that those parents who do not take the case seriously end up running out of time to get their children back into their homes.
Today we will discuss the programs and resources available to you as a parent within the confines of your CPS case. As a parent, the responsibilities you have are magnified during a CPS case. At no other time in your parenting life will there be a governmental institution breathing down your neck and judging your aptitude for parenting your child. Learning how to manage the people, services, and processes inherent in every CPS case is essential to your coming out of a CPS case with your child and your sanity intact.
Keep your life in order by being organized.
There is no way to avoid it- you will need to become organized if you want to succeed in your CPS case. Start by keeping track of every person you speak to from CPS- date, time, and nature of your conversation. Important information they provide, suggestions they make, and the outcome of each conversation should be logged. Don’t allow yourself to forget anything. This will also hold you and CPS accountable for your actions down the road. You will be asked to do a lot in conjunction with your CPS case, and notes like these can be the difference between keeping everything straight and losing track of where you are in the case.
An extension of this list is a log you should keep of each time you see your child. Important information that you learn at the visitation session, the activities you participated in, and the date/time should be all you need. You can review these notes to keep track of precisely what you are working on in your programs and classes. You can test them out in these visitation sessions with your child if you are learning new parenting skills.
If a visitation session had to end early because your child was upset or had a behavioral issue, be sure to take note of this. If you had to miss a session because you were under the weather, keep note of that as well. I’m not saying this will happen, but you do not want to be in a position where CPS notated something incorrectly, and you did not get credit for a visitation session that you should have.
Next, you should keep a calendar of events coming up in your case. Visitation times with your child, court appearances, safety plan meetings, mediations, counseling sessions, and many other sorts of important events take place with regularity once your CPS case is underway. You can help yourself keep these dates straight by mapping them out far in advance. If you need to plan for time off of work or for transportation to and from an event, it is best to put the date down so that you have time to figure those logistics out. Clients who fail to prepare undoubtedly should prepare to fail in their case management.
Finally, have a goals list that you update and maintain throughout your CPS case. Big goals like the dismissal of your case and the return of your child to your home should be included, but smaller goals like going two weeks without drinking alcohol or spending more time in quiet thought should be listed as well. Take the items included in your service and safety plans and put them on your list. Writing each goal down multiple times will engrain the goal into your mind, so don’t forget it. Constantly having the goal on your mind will cause you to work more tirelessly on achieving it.
What will CPS caseworkers be looking for in supervising your visitation sessions
As we’ve discussed previously, CPS will at least, in the early stages of your case, supervise your visitation sessions with your child. This is because your parenting skills and aptitude are in question in their eyes, and you will need to build trust before you can progress to having unsupervised visits. Their goal is to keep your child safe from harm, and at this point, you will not be able to show them that you are worthy of that trust.
With that said, CPS will not just be attending each visit to watch your child. You will be observed with an eye towards the judgment of your interactions with your child. I want to conclude this series of blog posts by discussing what CPS caseworkers will be looking for during these supervised visitation schedules.
Negative behavior like aggression towards your child, yelling, or being rude/disrespectful to CPS employees will be looked for. Make sure that you are dressed respectably and are not intoxicated/impaired in any way.
How you relate to your child and how she relates to you will also be judged. Was your child happy to see you? Were you happy to see her? Are you and your child affectionate with one another? While not every family shows affection and warmth the same way, there are telltale signs of family cohesiveness across the board.
Last- how prepared were you for a visit? If yours was a lunchtime visit, did you pack food to eat, games to play, and diapers/wipes? Did you make an effort to have the visit be as unique as possible? Nobody expects you to have prepared a five-course meal, but a simple lunch with drinks and a treat for your child is not out of the realm of expectations.
Your caseworker from CPS should make their criteria for each visit available to you and communicate these to you to help you understand what is being looked for. After the session, talk to the caseworker and see how it went and what you need to work on.
Final thoughts on CPS cases
The job of a family law attorney is not to dictate to the client how their mindset should be or to tell them what to focus on. Goal setting with the client and advising of critical legal rights is what attorneys should be doing on behalf of their clients. In a CPS case, many moving parts require individualized care. With the assistance of a reasonable attorney, an active support network, and most importantly, your undivided care, it is possible to have your child returned to your home.
Questions on CPS cases? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
Thank you for your time and attention, as we have discussed a great deal of information related to CPS cases over the past few weeks. We hope that the blog posts contain advice and suggestions relevant to you and your particular situation.
Any questions about this subject or any other in family law can be addressed to the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. We represent clients in CPS cases across Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family as well.