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Working on a CPS case while you are incarcerated: Communicating with the caseworker

If you are incarcerated as Child Protective Services (CPS) is investigating an allegation of abuse or neglect of your child, it is likely to be one of the most frustrating experiences of your life. Every fiber of your being is crying out to help your child, but you are behind bars. You have all the time in the world to think about what is happening to your child. That thinking will, without a doubt, turn into one thing: worry.

I can tell you from experience that your worrying about the CPS case will not accomplish anything of value for you. The only thing you can do is take advantage of the opportunities that you have to have a meaningful impact on your child’s case. Just because you are incarcerated doesn’t mean that you will lose your voice as far as communicating what you believe your child needs to succeed in life.

Your partner in ensuring that your child goes where they need to will be your family law attorney. Your attorney should have experience working with CPS and in working with folks that are incarcerated. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan meet both qualifications. Suppose you are going to prison soon or will be getting out of prison, stop by our office, or give us a call to talk to us about your situation and about how we can help. Or, we can meet with your family while you are incarcerated to find out how we can be of service to you.

The other person working closely with you on your child’s CPS case is the CPS caseworker. The CPS caseworker oversees the contact you have with the agency and helps all parties develop plans to progress further whatever goals are developed in your case. Most of the time, a CPS case's overarching goal will be to return your child to their home. Other times the goal is to place your child with a relative. Regardless, you are in a position to be able to assist the investigation.

This is what we are going to be talking about in today’s blog post. Your role in a CPS case does not change just because you are incarcerated. Your input and involvement are critical to helping your child find stability in their life. It will be more difficult for you to fulfill your responsibility in jail or prison, but it is your job to meet that challenge. I hope that our blog post will contain some information that will help you achieve whatever goals you have for the case, your child, and yourself.

The CPS caseworker in your case will….

-The CPS caseworker is going to ask you what you want to see happen with your child. If you are going to be incarcerated for the foreseeable future, you won’t be able to have your child live with you. Even if you are going to be released from prison soon, it is improbable that your transition back into the real world will allow you to take on the massive responsibility of caring for a child. With that said, the CPS caseworker will want to hear from you about what you see as the best opportunity for your child.

Do you have relatives who are ready and willing to care for your child? Have you provided that information to the caseworker? You ought to do so as soon as the case begins because it takes time for CPS to investigate potential homes for your child. Even if CPS’ stated goal is to reunite your child with their other parent, it won’t hurt to provide the name and contact information for a relative who you believe would be a suitable caretaker for your child- just in case that goal changes.

-The CPS caseworker will tell you what kind of contact you can have with your child. You are obviously in a unique situation, being that you are incarcerated, so it isn’t as if you can call your child whenever you want and go over to see him or her. An adult has to facilitate visitation for you, so you should speak to the caseworker to learn what is allowed and what is not allowed as far as visitation is concerned.

You should have a copy of your court orders (if the facility where you are staying allows you to keep papers in your cell) handy, and you can refer to those if you have questions. Sometimes court orders can be difficult to understand, and that is where having an attorney to represent you comes in handy. That attorney will be at every planning meeting with CPS, every hearing with the judge, and can advocate for you even when you cannot be in the room.

Otherwise, the CPS caseworker can speak to you about how much contact is currently being allowed by the judge between you and your child. Those opportunities to visit could be few and far between. Still, they are better than nothing and provide you with an opportunity to continue your relationship with your child even when you are incarcerated.

The CPS caseworker can tell you why you can only have limited contact with your child. It can be incredibly frustrating to learn that you cannot see your child as much as you would like to. Those visits with your child may be what makes your time in prison tolerable to some extent. However, the judge in your child’s case may have a completely different viewpoint on what is appropriate and in your child’s best interests.

The caseworker from CPS will have seen situations like yours before and can help you better understand why you are allowed the visitation and what you can do to get more time with your child. For instance, it may be that CPS has made recommendations about minimizing contact with you until it can be shown that your child can handle visits to prison. Your facility may have limits as to how much contact is allowed, as well. Rely on the caseworker and your attorney to help guide you in this area.

-The CPS caseworker will help you by providing you with information so long as you are detailed and direct with him or her. You should ask him or her point blank what you need to do to increase the amount of contact you have with your child. To be unclear is to be unkind.

This is a saying that I tell people in my own life all the time. If you can do anything while you are in prison to increase your chances of getting more time with your child or when you are out of prison with him or her, you should ask your CPS caseworker about that.

-The CPS caseworker will help you with your child. If you have an attorney, he or she should be the primary person in your corner, assisting you with doing this. However, if you do not have an attorney, the caseworker can help you answer the questions that your child has. The odds are high that your child will ask you about how much longer you will be staying in prison, how much longer the CPS case will be going on, and who your child will be living with primarily after the case concludes itself. You may not know how to answer those questions, but the CPS caseworker will help you find the right words.

-The CPS caseworker will help you deal with your own emotions surrounding your incarceration during a CPS case. Again, it will not be easy having to watch many of the things that go on in your case happen without being able to do much about it. Your CPS caseworker, along with your attorney, support system, and other people, will help you work on those emotions and use them to better the life of your child; however, you can.

What services are available to you as an incarcerated parent?

You can have your attorney or family members contact the facility where you are incarcerated to determine what services are available to you through the jail or prison.

There may be educational programs that will allow you to better find work after getting out of prison. That alone will decrease your chances of every ending up back in prison in the future. Religious services through a prison chaplain can also help you if you are a person of faith.

What are the basic rules associated with a child visiting you in prison?

When it is possible and deemed to be in your child’s best interests, your child should be able to have face to face contact with you. Your case's individual circumstances will determine how many faces to face contact; you will have with your child. Your facility where you are staying will have their own set of guidelines to keep in mind when taking advantage of all the visitation time that you are awarded in your court orders.

The court will determine how much visitation time you are allowed. Of course, you may not be able to be at every hearing in your child’s case. In fact, it is unlikely that you will be able to attend any hearing. For this reason, you must have an attorney there on your behalf, advocating for you and your rights.

Your attorney and the caseworker will contact the officials at your facility and work to get visitation set up so that the sessions can occur without a hitch. Both parties need to know the specific visitation policies of your facility and what restrictions are in place so that your child and their foster family don’t show up and have to go home because they are not on your list of approved visitors, for example.

Many facilities in Texas have programs that help mothers and fathers who are incarcerated become better parents. These programs will screen inmates like yourself who apply to be in the program. Once you are accepted, you will need to attend classes during the week. If you display good behavior, you will see your child once per week for one hour and can continue to remain in the program.

What to do to have successful visits with your child while you are incarcerated

If you are going to have only limited opportunities to spend time with your child, you will want to make sure that you take advantage of every moment afforded to you under your court orders and the visitation policies of your facility where you are staying. In tomorrow’s blog post, we will begin by sharing information about how you can best take advantage of the time that you have with your child.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we shared with you today, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office. These consultations are a great opportunity to learn more about our office and ask questions about your particular circumstances. Stop wondering what an attorney would say about your case and find out from one of our lawyers.

Our attorneys represent clients every day in family courts across southeast Texas. We pride ourselves on helping our clients achieve successful results in a wide array of family cases. We put our clients and their families' interests first, and the rest falls into place once we do that. Thank you for spending part of your day with us, and we hope to speak with you soon.

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  11. What to do if your spouse is being investigated by CPS in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
  12. Can CPS photograph your house and request your child’s medical records in Texas?

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 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 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.

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