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In what circumstances could your child end up living with your relative during a CPS case?

If you have a relative or close family friend or are interested in housing your child during a Child Protective Services (CPS) case, you should speak to that person about contacting CPS. Obviously, their home would need to be safe to be up for consideration. Just because a family member is willing to house your child does not mean that a person is well suited for that responsibility. You can also provide your CPS caseworker with that person’s name and contact information, and the caseworker can make the initial contact that way.

An assessment will be done for any person who throws their hat into the ring to be considered a temporary landing spot for your child. That home assessment will review your relative's background, home, and overall suitability to be a placement location for your child.

What will CPS do to help your child ensure that they can go to school during the CPS case?

CPS wants your child to be able to attend school and be successful in doing so. Just because the rest of your life is a little topsy turvy at the moment doesn’t mean that your child’s education has to be held back. It goes without saying that children that are better educated and exposed to more opportunities to learn have a head start over those children that do not.

Your child’s caseworker will work with your child, their school, and your child’s foster family to help you do well in school. For older children, graduating from high school and then preparing for life on their own is a major developmental step for these kids.

CPS will aim to keep your child enrolled in the same school he or he has been attending before being removed from your home. However, it may be determined that staying at the same school is not good for your child or Is not possible. In that case, your caseworker or foster parent will enroll you in a new school within a few days so that your educational goals may be met. Wherever your child will go to school, the caseworker and the foster family will ensure that your child is provided transportation.

School districts employ persons to work with foster families to address the needs of students in foster care. If your child is having problems with their schoolwork, then he should alert their foster parent, a caseworker with CPS, their teacher, or a counselor to let him or her knows.

Part of the monthly visits that your child has with their caseworker will revolve around performance in the classroom. Their caseworker will even help your child pick out classes to take in high school to earn a diploma.

What happens if your child is about to turn 18? Does CPS offer any programs for him or her?

Your child will no longer be in the state's custody after he or she reaches 18 years old. However, it is not required that your child leave foster care at that time. Your child may not be in a position to leave foster care and live on their own at that time. Your child may have educational goals yet to accomplish. He or she may still need to save money to rent an apartment, buy a car, or do a range of necessary activities for a person living independently.

There will be a trial independence period that can last for up to six months after your child leaves foster care. A judge in your child's case can extend this period of time for an additional six months. During this time period, there will most likely not be anything happening in your case, and your child will not have to go to court for many reasons.

Additionally, your child can remain in extended foster care until their 21stbirthday if they need additional time to work on their career, education, or housing situation. To take advantage of this program, you would need to tell CPS that you will be attending a college or vocational school, going to a work preparation program, or working at least 80 hours a month.

What happens if your child doesn’t return home?

If your child doesn’t return home and remains in foster care, your parental rights have likely been terminated.

Young people that remain in foster care at this point will be eligible for college grants that will help your child go to school. Scholarships are also available for the child as well as Pell grants.

Definitions of common words and phrases that you will hear in conjunction with a CPS case

Attorney ad litem: refers to a lawyer assigned by the judge in your CPS case to represent your child's interests. Your interests may surprise you to learn and do not always match up perfectly with those of your child in CPS cases. For example, if you truly do offer a long term threat to your child’s well being, it is not in the best interest of your child for your child to return home to you.

You will probably disagree with that and will work to have your child returned home, however. The job of the attorney ad litem is to work with your child to see what their desire is far as a permanent solution to where he or she will live.

Guardianship: It may be that your child cannot care for himself/herself after their 18thbirthday due to a disability or impairment. If that is the case, a judge can appoint a guardian for the child. These are very extreme situations that warrant the appointment of a guardian. The state wants all adults to be able to make decisions for themselves, if at all possible. You may be appointed as a guardian for your child, or if your parental rights are terminated, another person will fulfill that role.

Court Appointed Special Advocate: A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a volunteer who works through the court to advocate for your child. This person may or may not have any background in the law or with CPS. This is a person that has a heart for families in need. The CASA volunteer will work with your child, their foster family, and you to make recommendations to the court about what should happen with your child on a long term basis.

CPS Caseworker: A CPS caseworker will work with you and your child while he or she is in foster care. This person will ensure that your child is being cared for, that he or she is going to school, and that you are working on your CPS service plan's goals. The caseworker is your primary point of contact between yourself and CPS. Developing a relationship with this person and communicating with him or her as often as possible is a good goal to have.

Managing Conservator: The judge's ultimate job in your child’s CPS case is to determine who should have the right to make decisions, care for your child, and provide a home for your child on a long-term basis. The name of the person with these rights is known as the managing conservator of your child.

You could be named as the managing conservator of your child, a relative could be named as such, or the state could fill that role. This role is similar to that of a guardian, which we discussed earlier in this blog post. The key difference is that a guardian looks out for a person's interests over the age of 18.

Permanency plan: Child Protective Services will work with the judge in your case to develop a plan whose ultimate goal is to find a place for your child to live permanently. The best interests of your child are the primary consideration to be made in this regard. That cannot be easy to understand for parents. The judge's primary concern is not what you want or what will make you feel good.

The goal of a permanency plan will often be to reunite your child with you in your home. In other cases, the permanency plan's goal will be to have your child live permanently with a relative. Still, others will see the goal of having your child remain in the custody of the State.

Service plan: This is a developed plan between CPS, your child’s foster family, and other people involved in the case. The needs and goals of your child will be the primary consideration given within the service plan. CPS will work with your child on an ongoing basis to change and update the service plan as need be.

Substitute care: This is the type of care that your child will receive if they are removed from your home. If your child is being cared for by the state, they will be placed into foster care homes with a relative of yours or group homes.

Termination of parental rights: This is the elephant in the room that many parents fear will happen to them due to being involved in a CPS case. If CPS determines that reunification with your child is not a good goal but having you in your child's life is not something desirable for that child, a request can be made to the judge that your parental rights be terminated.

A judge will decide whether or not it is in the best interests of your child for your parental rights to be terminated over the course of a CPS case. Keep in mind that this a court and CPS will work closely with you to avoid this termination from occurring. However, if you cannot meet the goals of your service plan, it is possible to have your parental rights terminated.

Problems may need to be taken care of in your home. If there are dangerous conditions in the home that have led to your child's injury, or if you are bringing people to the home who are dangerous to your child, then those conditions need to be remedied. Often, a termination suit is brought in conjunction with an adoption petition when family members or other people in the community have wished to adopt him or her.

Thoughts on foster care and CPS

Without a doubt, nobody wants to become involved in a CPS case. Likewise, nobody wants their child to be removed from their house and placed into foster care. However, if you find yourself in a position where these folks have become a part of your life, you should not take a passive approach to the case. Learn as much as you can about both subject areas so that you can make good decisions for yourself and your child.

If you are interested in learning more about this or any other family law area, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to meet with you here in our office. These consultations are free of charge and are a great opportunity to learn more about your case and the services that we can provide to you as a client of ours.

Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in representing clients in courtrooms across southeast Texas. Our mission is to put our clients' interests at the forefront and work tirelessly to achieve their goals. If you need the assistance of a good family law attorney, look no further than those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

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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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