If you have multiple children involved in a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation, then the agency will make every effort to place those children in the same living environment for the duration of the case. Of course, if there are safety concerns with placing the children together, that is a relevant factor in exploring alternative living arrangements.
If your children are not placed together initially by CPS, then the caseworker assigned to work with your children will need to make an effort to reunite your children as quickly as possible. Regular visitation for your children with one another is part of the plan during which your children are not residing together.
As a result of your children's need to visit with one another during a CPS case, a sibling visitation plan will be included within the visitation plan that you have with your children. Each of your children's behavioral needs will need to be considered before coming up with this sibling visitation plan.
The guidance that may be relevant when coming up with a sibling visitation plan
There are many factors in play when it comes to determining how best to structure visitation between your children during a CPS case. We have gone over a few with you already in today’s blog post, but I would like to share some other considerations that you and the CPS caseworker should keep in mind.
Although you will have very little control over this, you should keep your eye on how CPS can talk to your children’s foster family(is) about the importance of maintaining those siblings' relationships. Keeping up with the contact that these kids have with one another is probably the most important part of doing this. If CPS can encourage foster families to allow the children to contact each other as much as possible, this is a good start.
-the word “therapy” still has negative connotations with many people, but I don’t think it should. Your children have likely experienced and seen things in their young lives that they have difficulty processing. For this reason, therapy and counseling can be extremely beneficial to your children. It would help if you encouraged your children to attend therapy sessions and do so with an open mind. During these planning sessions with CPS, if you have not been able to talk to the CPS caseworker about the availability of therapy for your children, it is a good idea to do so
Things like birthdays, holidays, and other life events should be celebrated together, if at all possible. Please do not underestimate how your children will remember these events as they grow older and rely upon their siblings more and more. Even if you cannot celebrate all of these events with your kids, that should not stop your children from doing so together.
Who else may be able to attend visitation sessions with you?
No matter what level of supervised visitation you have with your children during their CPS case, it is a good idea that you and your spouse work with your caseworker to determine what additional family members (if any) would like to participate in the visitation. It could mean that there are a handful of people that would be interested in being able to spend time with your children together for big families.
The caseworker will then need to decide the strength of the bond between your child and that family member. The people with whom your child has a stronger bond will be given preference for deciding who needs to be present for these visitation sessions. Another relevant consideration is whether or not that family member presents any safety concerns regarding your child. Is that family member named in the CPS investigation a person who may have been involved in abuse or neglect? Even if that family member's involvement in abuse or neglect was "ruled out," it is still important that your child is kept safe from harm.
The focus of every visitation session with your child is the parent-child relationship that you share. Other people may have good intentions and a sincere desire to spend time with your child. However, if there is a risk that this person’s presence could overshadow the parent-child bonding time, likely, this person will not attend the visitation session with you.
What happens if you engage in negative behavior during a visitation session?
Unfortunately, it can happen that you cannot act in ways that are appropriate when visiting with your child. These are emotional visits, and you should take the emotional aspects of the case seriously. Emotions can cause us to feel strange, and those strange feelings can cause us to act atypically. So what could happen to you if you do something during a visitation session that is determined to be inappropriate?
Missing visits with your child without first providing notice of your intention to miss the session, making unrealistic promises to your child about when he or she will be able to return home, or engaging in behavior that could harm your relationship with your child are just a few examples of behavior that you should avoid. If any of these things happen with your case, there are some factors that CPS will take into consideration.
Your absence from a scheduled visit with your child will be less disruptive to your child’s schedule if the visit can be planned within the normal, natural events that take place in your child’s home life. Visits with your child can occur in the home of one of your relatives where your child can also visit with extended family and friends in addition to you. This way, your absence will not be felt as acutely as if the visitation session was with you alone.
Can your visitation plan be changed during the CPS case?
Every month, CPS will work with you to review the visitation plan created previously to determine whether or not it is still appropriate for your family. Dynamics within the case change, your needs change, and so do your child’s. CPS cases can last up to one year in length, so I’m sure you can imagine that your family's needs may not be the same from the beginning of the year until the end.
For instance, in addition to having a visitation plan, you will also have a safety plan and service plan that you are expected to keep track of. These plans will outline goals that you are to achieve to have your child return to your home, gain more visitation during the CPS case, or combine the two. Sometimes those goals need to be modified during a case. Sometimes those goals need to be added to if other events arise that were previously unforeseen. The visitation you have with your child can depend in large part on these factors.
If you meet the goals outlined in your safety plan and/or service plan, CPS will probably work with you to reduce the level of supervision that you have during visits with your child. You will often be able to have unsupervised visitation with your child if CPS does not perceive you to be a threat on any level to your child’s physical health and well-being.
On the other hand, if it is found that you have not made the anticipated progress in developing and learning the actions needed to parent your child safely, additional action will need to be taken by you and by CPS. A meeting should be called wherein your caseworker, and you can amend the visitation plan to allow you to continue to work on your goals and help you better parent your child daily. The goals that you arrived at in your safety plan and service plan may have to be altered slightly as a result.
Where exactly do the visitation sessions with your child occur during a Texas CPS case?
The visitation environment that you can take advantage of with your child should be as close to a home-like environment as possible. Whatever setting you are placed into, it should facilitate your ability to interact with your child. That is what these visitation sessions are all about.
The office of your CPS caseworker is one venue that is often utilized for visitation sessions. A public place like a park, library, museum, playground, or even a restaurant may work well for you and your child. Or, as we discussed earlier, the home of your child’s foster family might be a good place to consider as well. Finally, if you can meet the goals of your case, it could get to the point where your home or that of a family member can be utilized for visitation sessions.
How often will you be able to visit with your child during a Texas CPS case?
As we have already stated a handful of times in today’s blog post, the main purpose of visitation during a CPS case is to allow you to continue to bond with your child during what can be a long CPS case. Your relationship with your child is a lens through which your child views the outside world. By learning how to form bonds with you as a parent, your child is also learning how to form bonds with people outside of your family.
Depending on how old your child is and what developmental needs she has, you will be able to have more or less frequent visits with your child. As with everything else in your CPS case, the visitation sessions you are awarded your child will need to be consistent with whatever the court establishes the permanency goals.
Infant and Toddler visitation during a Texas CPS case
If your children are very young, it is more likely that they will need to have more consistent physical contact with you to maintain a strong bond. Think about the moment that your child was born. The first thing that the nurses likely did was plop that baby down on your chest (if you are the child’s mother) to begin that bonding process. That level of connection can be harmed if you are physically separated from your young child for an extended period.
The caseworker’s responsibility is to identify those people in your child’s life who are important and to arrange visitation with those people as frequently as possible. Separation anxiety is a real concern when it comes to children that are under the age of four. Keeping your child’s safety in mind, the more time, the better when it comes to spending time with your child who is of this age group.
Interested in learning more about child visitation during a CPS case? Stay tuned to our blog tomorrow.
In tomorrow’s blog post, we will pick up where we left off by discussing how older children’s needs are considered regarding scheduling visitation with you during a CPS case. We hope that the information shared today has been helpful to you.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we have covered 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 about our office and to have our attorneys provide you with direct responses to your questions about your family.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- What to Do When CPS Asks for a Drug Test in Texas
- CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
- Take control of your child’s CPS case by following these tips
- How to stand up for yourself during a Texas CPS case
- How to prevent a second CPS investigation after your first concludes
- Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
- When can CPS remove your child from your home in Texas and what can you do about it?
- What to do if you no longer like your CPS service plan?
- In what circumstances could your child end up living with your relative during a CPS case?
- What can a CPS investigation into your family mean now and in the future?
- What to do if your spouse is being investigated by CPS in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
- 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 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 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.