After your Child Protective Services case, the agency will determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence available regarding whether or not you have abused or neglected your child. Depending on the outcome of your case, you and CPS can agree to go in a few different directions moving forward.
A Safety plan could be the chosen option by CPS to work with you and your family while the investigation is still ongoing. By working within a safety plan, you can allow your child to live in your home with you. You and your CPS caseworker will work together to develop the terms and conditions of the safety plan. Your ability and willingness to follow the plan as agreed to is essential to your child remaining in your home permanently.
What if your circumstances differ from those of your spouse?
Suppose for a moment that CPS has investigated your family regarding an allegation of abuse or neglect that was made against your spouse. An investigation was commenced that resulted in it being found that you played no role in any wrongdoing, but the same could not be said for your spouse. Should you find yourself in a situation like this, you can request a different safety plan applied to you than your spouse.
Family-Based Safety Services
Another option for your CPS case could be to work with Family-Based Safety Services through CPS. FBSS is intended for families that need more long-term support than a safety plan would offer. FBSS employees through CPS would work with your family after an investigation has concluded and will address safety concerns primarily. If you require assistance with getting your child into a daycare or if you need alcohol or other rehabilitative services, then FBSS employees can assist in that regard as well.
Options when your child is determined not to be safe to live in your home
If CPS determines that it is not safe to allow your child to live in your home, then you may be asked to find a relative's home where your child can live temporarily. The person must be trustworthy and be someone that will ensure that your child is safe. While your child resides with a relative, you will have the opportunity to make safe any aspect of your home that is not satisfactory. The person you select will need to have a pre-existing relationship with your child.
Keep in mind that while your child will not be placed into the temporary care of CPS, this is an option if you do not remedy whatever aspect of your home life needs work or if you outright refuse to comply with the recommendations of CPS. CPS can go to court and seek an order from a judge that grants them temporary conservatorship rights over your child in this event. There is no guarantee that if they are granted temporary conservatorship rights that your child will be able to remain in the home of your relative.
When is a Parental Child Safety Plan not available?
In situations where your child has been injured due to abusive conduct by either you or your spouse, the option of having your child reside temporarily with a relative will likely not be in play for you and your family. Remember also that CPS will conduct background searches on any adult who resides in your family member's residence selected to house your child. Your ability to take advantage of this arrangement is dependent upon your relative's willingness to participate and cooperate in the plan as well.
Removal of your child as a last resort
If the two options above are not available to you and your family for any of the reasons listed above, your child can be removed from your home either before or after an order is granted by a judge. If an order has not been granted, then your child will be removed only if an emergency circumstance is apparent in your home. Immediately, however, an order must be requested by CPS and granted by a judge for your child to remain in the temporary conservatorship of CPS.
Asking for a review of a CPS case
CPS must allow you to request a review of the outcome of an investigation that you disagree with. The request for a review of the findings must be made within 45 days of the date you receive a letter from CPS detailing the determinations made within the investigation.
If CPS has removed your child from your home, requesting a review will not allow your child to return, unfortunately. CPS will need to review how it characterized the case and whether or not the determinations it made were justified based on the evidence available to them.
When a review is done, you may attend the meeting and have a lawyer attend with you. Additional evidence that has not been considered is often helpful to these reviews. The reviewers of the investigation will ask you questions and will look into the documents created as a result of the investigation. Within 45 days of the review, the result will be mailed to you. The review, which the investigation supervisor does, must be held within fourteen days of your request for review.
Your CPS case file can be requested.
CPS records are confidential for the most part. You can request to see documents about yourself if an investigation has been commenced about alleged acts of abuse or neglect of a child. These records will include information concerning the initial report about abuse or neglect that was made to CPS and documents and other evidence created as a result of the investigation.
It is common for CPS to redact information contained in your case file that is considered confidential. The identity of the person who made the report to CPS, as well as any information that may put the safety of your child or any other person in jeopardy, are examples of confidential information.
Tips on keeping your child safe
If a safety plan is implemented in your case, then any suggestion that you have as to how you can keep your child safe should be included in the plan. For example, if you have family and friends who can assist you in keeping your child safe, that should be a part of the plan. This is especially helpful as a part of the concern for your child was regarding time spent without adequate supervision.
Did you know that the community you live in has resources available to families like yours that you may not even be aware of? Food banks, vocational resources, and legal assistance are often available at no cost in the area where you live.
Finally, your CPS caseworker is an excellent resource to utilize to ensure your child's safety now and in the future. The CPS caseworker will be able to help you locate the sort of assistive services that were discussed in the prior paragraph.
If you are in a relationship where you are suffering abuse, you should take steps to ensure that person is not a concern to you or your child after a CPS investigation. A protective order can be sought from a court that orders the domestic abuser to leave your home. Above all else, you can move to a different area if the safety and stability of your current home will continue to be a question in the future.
The risks of interfering with an investigation and the causes of the removal of your child are to be discussed in tomorrow's blog.
If you have any questions regarding this subject or any other in Texas family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We can arrange a time to meet with one of our licensed family law attorneys for a free-of-charge consultation. Our office represents clients from southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you.