When your child is removed as a part of a Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) case and placed into foster care it would be natural on some level to view the foster family as something of an enemy. These are the folks who are welcoming your children into your home after they have just exited your own. You do not know their intentions because you do not know them. You may not even find out their names and likely will never know where they live. All you are left with is an assurance from CPS that they will be caring for your children for an extended period of time to the best of their ability.
Parents that I have come into contact with that have had their children placed into CPS case will frequently want to know whether or not the foster family will make an effort to speak to them (when possible) about how to better care for their child on a daily basis. Another concern that I have heard from parents in your position is what efforts will be made by the foster family to ensure that their children are able to take part in extracurricular activities through their school or other organizations.
What I can tell you is that CPS will assure you that they judge their foster families on their ability to do these sorts of things in addition to other daily care activities associated with your children. It is important that foster families are able to avoid problems that the agency has faced before.
I will not detail specific problems that the foster care system in this blog post, but a simple Google search will reveal what I am alluding. This is all the more reason for you to seek out family members to act as a foster care providers for your children, rather than leave it up to CPS to appoint a family to care for your children.
What happens if CPS believes your child’s foster family is not living up to this standard?
Problems can arise if your child's foster family is not facilitating visits with you, sharing information with you or CPS and generally seems hostile to the idea of you being able to share in the reunification process. If this situation presents itself CPS will take action on behalf of your family. You can expect the action it takes looks like the following.
In the event that your child’s foster family has a different view of their role in your child’s CPS case or doesn’t understand what it can do to help your child in their feelings of separation anxiety, the CPS caseworker will work to make sure that training is available and received by the family. This is a significant gap in knowledge that the family needs to remedy immediately. In addition, caseworkers will frequently consider holding meetings with you and the foster family to make sure that you all have an opportunity to build a relationship.
Some foster families are more flexible than others when it comes to the “disruptions” that come along with visitation with parents and foster children. Your child's foster family should be aware that these visitations can and will happen at abnormal times depending on the schedule of your child, your child's foster family and you. In some instances, however, the foster family will be less flexible than you or CPS would like. They may even become resistant to working with you all to facilitate the visits.
What can be done if this happens in your situation? CPS will meet with the foster family to determine the cause of the issue regarding visitation problems. Is your child expressing negative emotions about visiting with you that he has not made known to you or to CPS? Or is the foster family needing to be trained to better understand what the goal of your case is? Whatever additional support that the foster family needs to make sure visitation occurs without a hitch, that will be provided to them.
What happens if you are incarcerated for all or a part of the CPS investigation?
If you are in jail or prison for at least a portion of the CPS investigation, then you will need special arrangements set up in order to help facilitate your visitation with your child. In some instances, you may even be incarcerated due to issues related to the abuse of your child.
The impact of any contact that you have with your child as a result of this incarceration will need to be looked at in greater detail. Typically, a therapist or child counselor will assess the situation and will make recommendations to CPS after meeting with your child and their caseworker. Before you are prescribed any visitation, those recommendations will need to be addressed.
Next, we will need to consider what the goal of your CPS case is. There are goals that range from the reunification of your child with you in your home, permanent placement of your child with a relative, permanent placement with the Department of Family and Protective Services (foster care) and adoption. If the goal of your case is to reunify you with your child in your home once you are no longer in prison then every effort should be made to allow you to have visitation with your child.
How will that visitation occur while you are in prison? Some people have concerns about their child visiting the prison to visit with you. However, the experience of most people in prison is that it is not as grim and violent as you may have been led to believe that it would be.
On the contrary, many prisoners visit with the family on a regular basis while they are behind bars. Consider the fact that if your child is initially apprehensive about visiting with you in prison that it may just take one visit to put him into a different mindset. The future of your relationship can depend on it.
What sort of visitation planning occurs if you are incarcerated?
First, the prison where you are staying will need to be contacted to speak to the administration about what procedures and arrangements are in place to help get the process started. Your child's foster family and the CPS caseworker will speak to your child about the extent of the contact you will be able to have with him or her. What sort of information is able to be shared with your child is an important consideration in this regard. Work with CPS to prepare your child as best as possible prior to their first visit.
Your child should know ahead of time, for example, that it is probable that he will only be able to see you in a small room in the jail where there will not be toys or games or friendly reminders of home. It will feel like you all are visiting one another in jail. If this does not seem like the most hospitable place in the world for a visitation session to occur you would be right.
Sometimes you will be in a larger room where there will be multiple families with children, extended family, etc. In other instances, your child may be able to talk to you face to face but contact will not be allowed between the two of you. What you need to find out is whether or not your child can bring you things like mail, food, gifts or things like school artwork. Depending on where you are staying that may be contraband and not allowed.
How does family violence work within this process?
If your child was removed from your home and out of your custody due to concerns regarding family violence then an assessment will be done by CPS in order to determine how your child experienced that violence and what its impact has been on him. Children experience traumatic events in different ways. It cannot be assumed that your child will experience these situations in the same way that another child would.
Furthermore, our expectation as adults of how a child will experience trauma will like to differ a great deal from how we would experience trauma as adults. A determine will need to be made as far as what safety concerns and other steps that need to be taken in order to put your home in a safe condition prior to visitation re-starting. Drop off and pick up locations that are removed from your house are just a few of the ways that you may be able to mitigate future risks of harm to your kids.
What if your children were victims of sexual abuse?
In cases where your child has become the victim of sexual abuse, there will need to be significant assessments done as to what risks are presented to your child in relation to your being able to visit with him or her. Even if you were not the person who committed the acts of sexual abuse against your child, it could be that your neglect led to another person being able to do so.
Your child will be set up with a therapist to talk to about the incidents of sexual abuse (age-appropriate discussions). The court will likely set up rules that surround your being able to contact your child during the case, outside of any visitation sessions that you are allowed. If you are found to have abused your child in a sexual way, any visitation allowed between you and your child will be closely supervised with a readiness to cut the visitation short if signs of abuse are observed.
What if your child has physical or developmental needs?
The last thing I would like to discuss with you all regarding the topic of visitation during CPS cases is the subject of children with special needs. Your caseworker will need to make visitation accommodations in many cases in order to allow you, your children and your child’s siblings to participate in meaningful visitation. CPS employs specialists who work with caseworkers and parents in order to arrange visits for children who have special needs of various sorts.
For example, does your child have mobility issues that make it difficult or impossible for him or her to go upstairs or ramps? If so, alternative or mobility accessible locations may need to be sought after for hosting your sessions of visitation. If your child cannot physically get to the location for visitation purposes all your efforts to get visitation sessions scheduled will be pointless.
You should be discussing these issues with CPS and providing guidance on what your child needs in order to have meaningful sessions of visitation with you and your family. Even though your child is not living with you currently, you still have a role to play in their lives. Your input is needed and you should offer it to your CPS caseworker even if it is not requested.
Final thoughts on CPS cases in Texas
If you have been provided visitation opportunities with your child in conjunction with a CPS case, make no mistake that the most important thing you can do is go to see your child. Nothing can make up for missed visitations. It will hurt your case, and even more important it will hurt your child.
See to it that you move heaven and earth in order to get your child for these visitation sessions. Don’t feel sorry for yourself- feel sorry that your child is in the position that he or she is in and then do something about it.
Questions about Texas family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys and staff at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan thank you for spending time with us this past week as we discussed this important topic in Texas family law. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about your particular situation please do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where one of our licensed family law attorneys can directly address your questions.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- 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
- 16 Steps to help you Plan and Prepare for your Texas Divorce
- How to present yourself and testify well in court during your divorce case
- Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
- Getting Ready for a Hearing On Temporary Custody Orders
- Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
- The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
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 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.