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How manage your Child Protective Services case and maintain your sanity

As we have spent the past few weeks discussing the subject, you can hopefully tell that a CPS case can be complicated, difficult, 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 then 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 to 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 you life and then fade away. There is nobody telling 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 home.

Today we will discuss the programs and resources available to you as a parent within the confines of your CPS case. The responsibilities that you have as a parent 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 literally 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 be successful in your CPS case. Start off by keeping track of every person you speak to from CPS- date, time and nature of your conversation. Important information that they provide, suggestions they make and the outcome of each conversation should be logged. Don’t give yourself any opportunity 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 that you should keep of each time you see your child. Important information that you learn at the visitation session, the activities that you participated in and the date/time should be all that you need. You can review these notes in order to keep track of exactly what you are working on in your programs and classes. If you are learning new parenting skills you can test them out in these visitation sessions with your child.

If a visitation session had to end early because your child was upset or was having 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 that are 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 go 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 that you 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 in time 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 judgment of your interactions with your child. I’d like 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.

The way that 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 ways, there are tell tale signs of family cohesiveness that are shown across the board.

Last- how prepared were you for the 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 special 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 should communicate these to you in order 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 him or her what to focus on. Goal setting with the client and advising of important legal rights is what attorneys should be doing on behalf of their clients. In a CPS case there are many moving parts that require individualized care. With the assistance of a good attorney, an active support network and most importantly your undivided care it is absolutely 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 contained advice and suggestions that are 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 of charge 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.

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