When you've just been dealt a blow in your life, you may feel like stepping back and not doing much of anything. For instance, if Child Protective Services (CPS) initiates an investigation into you and your family, you may feel like it's the end of the world and something that you are powerless to recover from. What's the point of following up with a CPS caseworker or participating in their programs when it is assumed that you committed some terrible act of neglect or abuse against your child?
The simple truth is that just because CPS becomes involved in your life does not mean that you cannot do anything to help your child and help yourself. Yes, a CPS case is essential and can impact the future of your relationship with your child and other members of your family. However, if you assume that there is nothing further you can do either have your CPS case closed or to have your child returned to your home, you are wrong. You need to be aware of steps that can significantly assist your ability to manage a CPS case successfully.
Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will discuss with you what role you need to play in a CPS investigation that relates to your child. It is not easy to go through a situation that involves CPS intervening in your life. However, your actions can and will directly influence how your case proceeds and its outcome about your child.
Stay active, stay involved, and do not give up.
Your child's CPS case may be the only one in the world that you care about, but the reality is that CPS caseworkers, investigators, and supervisors have heavy caseloads, of which your child's case is just one. This means that since these folks are hectic, each phone call you make may not be returned as promptly as you would like, and you may go a day or so without updates. If you are left frustrated by this idea, I understand your feelings. I have encountered clients that have talked to me about a CPS caseworker forgetting to provide information, documents and even return phone calls for weeks at a time. I wouldn't say that this is the norm, but it is symbolic of how busy your caseworker will be once the case is underway.
Just because the CPS employees assigned to your child's case are busy and overworked does not mean that a judge will take sympathy on you for failing to schedule appointments, stay up to date on the case or get information. It is your responsibility to keep informed of your case, stay current on whatever plans were agreed to with CPS, fix whatever conditions may have led to CPS involvement in the first place, and generally maintain a positive attitude.
The bottom line is that you must continue to contact CPS regularly even if your phone calls are not being returned. We all have that friend who never returns phone calls or takes half a day to even respond to a text message. After a little bit, we lose interest in maintaining a friendship with this sort of person, and we eventually lose touch. Do not take this same attitude towards the CPS case. I would argue that you should do the exact opposite. Take the initiative and always ask what you can do to schedule an appointment, provide information, etc. When CPS ignores you, go the extra mile to help your case progress. Your child's future and well-being are at stake, after all.
Staying active means staying vigilant
How can you be a vigilant parent during a CPS case? For starters, I would recommend that you do exactly what you are doing right now- reading as much as you can about CPS cases and their importance. Learn what your rights are in a CPS case and how to proceed. If you can learn the different persons involved in a CPS case, you will have a better idea of what sort of questions to ask and whom to try to speak to for a particular aspect of your child's case.
As we just touched on in the previous section of this blog post, if your phone calls are not being returned promptly, it is your job to follow up with the caseworker. That does not mean bombarding their cell phones with voicemails or being testy or aggressive when you do get to speak to the caseworker. Sometimes, it does not feel like it, but these folks are just doing their job by being involved with your family. Be respectful at all times but always maintain contact even if that contact is not regular.
Toward the beginning of your child's case, ask your caseworker for the contact information for all persons involved- any investigators, supervisors, etc., should all be programmed into your cell phone so that you can contact them at a moment's notice if need be. These are the people that will be the keys to having your child returned to your care. They are not your adversaries, and you must work with them during the process.
Help yourself while helping your child.
While your child is either in CPS's temporary custody or you are working alongside CPS to close an investigation while your child remains in your home, you must take whatever steps you need to address problems in your own life.
If drugs or alcohol are a problem for you, I recommend you speak to CPS about programs they may have available to you. If you attend a church or other religious bodies, speak to your worship leader about faith-based programs that can assist you in dealing head-on with any substance dependency issues you may have. A CPS case is about treating the cause of the symptoms and not the symptoms alone.
Whether you have agreed to work with CPS to better yourself and your home life in some way or have been ordered by a judge to do so, it is crucially important that you step up to the plate and do what you have to present a strong case for the return of your child to your home.
If you have been ordered to sign medical releases for CPS to review medical records of your child or yourself or to do anything else that you may have second thoughts about, it is for the best that you comply. This all goes back to being an active and involved participant in the process. The last thing you want is for CPS to argue that you have been obstructing their investigation and not following orders or abiding by an agreement you made with the agency.
Remember- complying with orders and cooperating with CPS does not mean you are backing down to them or not standing up for yourself or your child. You have ample opportunity to do so. However, your actions speak volumes in a CPS case. CPS does not want to keep your child from you but will until the time at which it is determined that you do not offer a threat to the child from a neglect or abuse perspective. Communication and cooperation are two great ways to build trust with CPS and the other people involved in your child's case. That trust can go a long way towards the return of your child to your home.
Questions on how to stand up for your children in a CPS case? Join us tomorrow
In tomorrow's blog post, we will discuss how best to manage a CPS case while asserting the rights of your child. If you have questions about anything you've read today, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We represent families across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Representing your children's interests in a Child Protective Services case
- Maintaining a positive outlook during a CPS investigation in Texas
- Help your child and yourself in a Child Protective Services case by remaining actively involved
- Family Law Cases in Texas: Examining the steps in a Child Protective Services case
- Managing a Family Law case in Texas
- Texas Family Courts: Child Protective Services, Part Two
- How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case, Part Two
- What to know about Child Protective Services
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 2
- Child Protective Services Investigation- What to expect and how to handle the situation, Part 3
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 essential 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 cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.