When you have school, aged children going through a CPS case it is important that you be able to spend as much time with them as possible in order to help them cope with the difficulties of the case. Even though your children are now in school and are not spending as much time with you, there is still a significant degree of attachment that exists between you and your child. That attachment depends on the trust that your child has in the availability of their parents to help him or her deal with problems in their life.
A benefit of having older children involved in the CPS case is that they are able to take advantage of telephone calls, email, text messaging and Skype calls in order to communicate with you. You should check with your CPS caseworker to see what means are available to you in order to facilitate communication with your school-aged child. Face to face contact with you on a weekly basis is a necessity, however, and a good initial goal would be to able to see your child once a week at least.
Another benefit to having a child who is of school age is that he or she can participate in the creation of a safety plan. Your child may want to see you as often as possible or may have different feelings depending on the nature of your case. Either way, you can take these desires into consideration. It seems like children of this age will be provided with multiple visitation opportunities on a weekly basis once their case is underway.
Teenaged children: what special factors affect visitation opportunities with children of this age?
As I mentioned a moment ago, in developing a visitation plan with your CPS caseworker, older children should be consulted as much is appropriate in your situation. In a way, children will use they are being able to have a say in this process as a means of coping with the separation from you and the upheaval in their lives. Their ability to continue to see you, to be able to attend school and to participate in extracurricular activities are a part of this process.
Your child may be developmentally stunted by being removed from your home. The separation that goes on during a CPS case is another hurdle that your child may have to overcome as well. Regular visitation with you can help a teenaged child to overcome these problems without any unnecessary bumps in the road.
Older teenagers: helping a child overcome problems as they transition into adulthood
If you are the parent of an older teenager that is going through a CPS case it is often beneficial to have even more regular visitation with the child than you would see for younger children. The reason for this is due to the need for older children to become refined in their abilities to problem solve as they prepare for adulthood. So many of the lessons that we learn about how to function as adults are learned at home in these teenaged years.
What role does your child’s foster family play in determining a visitation schedule?
You should look at your child’s foster family as partners in this process instead of as adversaries. I know that it can be awkward to navigate this aspect of your child’s case but it is crucial to have foster parents that are encouraging in their attitudes towards you being able to visit with your children as often as possible.
Whether you like it or not your child’s foster parents can be a huge part of your building a relationship with your child since the beginning of your CPS case. These folks can help you to assist with the process of getting your child to engage in visitation opportunities with you.
For instance, on a daily basis, the foster family can help your child to use whatever communication devices have been approved by the judge in order to contact you. Something as simple as having the foster family remind your child to call you at a certain time each day is a great benefit to you. Keep in mind that the foster family can also prevent you from engaging in excessive or inappropriate attempts to communicate with your child.
The foster family to your child is also on the front lines in terms of being able to help your child sort through the difficult emotions that they have experienced in terms of the removal from your home. However, you should not seek out the foster family in this regard. The foster parents are best suited to speak directly to CPS about any problems- not with you or your child.
When your child does have visits with you, the foster family is often the first group of people that will be able to spend time with the child. These folks will be able to keep a note of how your child behaves, what your child says and generally your child's attitudes towards spending time with him or her. If the foster parent observed that issues arose in a particular visitation session that can be reported to the CPS caseworker. You can address these issues with the caseworker directly rather than letting the issues and worsen over time.
Helping you to be at an event, even when you can’t be
Suppose that your child is the star quarterback on the middle school football team. Or maybe your son plays in the band at the high school. Not being able to attend games and performances can be one of the most difficult aspects of the separation caused by CPS cases. Even though you cannot be present for many of these events, the foster family to your child can help you feel like you were there.
Many foster families will go out of their way to make sure that you as the parent feels like you are involved in these important events of your child. Pictures and videos that are taken by a foster family and shared with you via email can be a nice gesture by the foster family which helps you to feel as involved as possible in the life of your child. Furthermore, the foster family best serves your child by speaking about you in positive ways whenever you are brought up in conversation by your child.
What would need to happen in a CPS case in order to have your child placed with a relative on a temporary basis?
If you have relatives available to help foster your children during a CPS case, this can be a great benefit to you as well as to your child. Allowing your child to live with people that they have a pre-existing relationship with can ease the transition and also provide your child with stability in the months to follow. If you can imagine how difficult it would be for your child to manage their emotions during a case, a relative may be in the best position to help manage your child’s emotions due to their already having a relationship with your child.
Keep in mind that your child may need support not just from family and CPS but also from social workers and school administrators like principals and counselors. The role of a social worker is to act as a liaison between your relative who is providing care to your child and you and your spouse. If you can better communicate with your child through the social worker and encourage an understanding between yourselves and your child that is great for the healing process.
What role will emotions in your child play regarding visitation during a CPS case?
The emotions that your child feels during the placement phase of a CPS case can be as varied as the number of children that there are in this world. By this, I mean that different children experience this process in different ways. Your child may be happy and excited to come and visit you or may feel apprehensive about you seeing him after he has spent time with another family.
There may be instances where your child gets upset immediately before, after or even during a visit with you. Sometimes children will seemingly regress in age by a few years due to the stress of these sort of visits. Your four-year-old may take on “baby” behavior and act inappropriately for a child of their age. Being moody, avoiding conversation, avoiding eye contact and acting disrespectfully are other examples of behaviors that I have experienced with kids put into this position.
These are normal, human feelings that are related to lose and separation that they feel due to the removal of themselves from your home. Their sense of permanency and stability has been greatly affected by the CPS case and their emotions are a result of that upheaval in their lives. Some children retreat into themselves and show no outward emotions at all. Others express themselves in ways that are more demonstrative.
Another idea to keep in mind is that because there may be a history of poor treatment of you towards your child, he or she may not be overly excited to visit with you. That is understandable, and you have the task before you to do whatever you can to put this issue behind you. It is your job as the parent to take steps towards healing this relationship. Reassure your child that they have done nothing to hurt your family and that you are doing everything that you can to return him or her to your home because you love them.
What can you do when visitation sessions cause your child to suffer negative emotions?
Whatever needs your child has from an emotional standpoint, it is the job of your caseworker to identify those emotions and do what is necessary to address them. Your caseworker will need to build a trust-filled relationship with your child in order to be able to effectively convey your emotions to you and to your child’s foster family.
On the other hand, if your child is experiencing negative emotions due to not seeing you enough, visitation privileges should be extended so that you may be able to see your child more frequently. Many times your child will feel more comfortable with a sibling or grandparent attending the visitation sessions with you. The reason for this is that your child may identify with that person as being a confidant.
Finally, you should not feel pressured to talk to your child about things that he or she is not comfortable discussing with you. Your child may be having trouble trusting you during the initial stages of the CPS case. This may be a justified mistrust, or it may be due to their not understanding why your family is in the position that it is in. Either way, you need to be prepared to deal with some emotions from your child that you are not used to experiencing.
Questions about CPS investigations, visitation or anything in between? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material that was included in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law can schedule you for a free of charge consultation six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and receive direct feedback about your particular circumstances.
Our attorneys work on behalf of clients across southeast Texas in family courts. We have achieved superior results for our clients in each due to the effort that we put into all of our cases and the belief that every client deserves our very best every day. Whether yours is a divorce, child custody, CPS, adoption or grandparent's rights case, please contact us to talk about how we may best help you and your family. Thank you for your time and consideration.