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What will CPS be keeping an eye on regarding your parent-child visitation sessions?

Unfortunately, some parents do not take advantage of the time available to them in Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations. I don’t necessarily mean that these parents do not show up to the visitation location to see their children (though this does happen). I am talking about parents who engage in inappropriate or disruptive behavior to the environment that is hosting the visit. This is something that is frustrating for all parties involved and is avoidable in most circumstances.

If you are reading this blog post and are going through a CPS investigation of your own, you will want to avoid putting yourself into a situation like this. Sometimes we can’t help the way that we experience emotions regarding our children. As a parent, I know that I will feel a range of emotions daily regarding my children. I can say that not even having gone through the difficulties you and your family face are with a difficult CPS case.

The purpose of today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is to share how to manage your emotions, those of your children, and the expectations that you have surrounding visitation with your child during a CPS case. If you've been reading our blog this week, then you will know that many visitation sessions in your case will be supervised. Your interactions with your child are being watched by CPS and judged on whether or not they are appropriate. Avoiding mistakes in behavior and interacting "appropriately" can be the difference between a long and relatively short CPS case.

What concerns are you likely to have while visiting with your child in a CPS case?

The CPS caseworker assigned to work with you and your family will be looking into whatever concerns you have on an individual level and the emotions you have underlying those concerns.

Do not get into battles over time and affection with your child’s other parent.

Often, parents will look at a CPS case as an opportunity to get into a competition for the time and affection of their child. If your ex-spouse is unrelated to the case other than having your child involved, he may see this as an opportunity to attempt to win more time with your child once your case is done. On the other hand, you may look at this time as an opportunity to rebuild your relationship with your child and will do everything you can to prevent your ex-spouse from seeing your child.

Regardless of your particular situation, the CPS caseworker will keep an eye out for behavior like this from you or your child’s other parent. Their goal is to promote the parent-child relationship between you and your child, as well as between your child and their other parent. Remember that CPS’s main goal in the case is to put your child into whatever situation allows for their growth and maturity while keeping them as safe as possible from any risk of harm.

CPS will want you and your child’s other parent to take as much responsibility as possible under the circumstances as far as decision making for your child is concerned. If your child is in foster care, then that means that you will not be in a position to care for your child as much as you may like, but you will still retain some decision-making capabilities.

However, you should be cautious not to put yourself into a position where you have to justify unnecessary behavior regarding your child and “competing” for their time and affection.

Maintain your sobriety

Part of your CPS case will emphasize sobriety if that is determined to be an issue for you about your child and keeping him/her safe from harm. No parent can protect their child at all times, but if you are intoxicated due to your having consumed drugs or alcohol, that puts you at a severe disadvantage as far as keeping a watchful eye out for your children. Suppose you are allowing other drug users in your home. That only adds to the level of danger that you are putting your child into.

With all of that said, you will need to maintain sobriety. Now, from what I have seen, it isn’t as if CPS will tell you not to drink alcohol or do drugs and then leave you to your own devices to figure out how to do that. Most of the time, you will be allowed to attend counseling, therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other group sessions that will allow you to work on your sobriety in a team environment.

If you are suspected of using drugs and/or alcohol before or after a visit with your child, you will likely see that your visitation with your child becomes even more restricted. Additionally, you may see that CPS brings in professionals who work with addicts to help modify your behavior and see that your visitation sessions go on without any unnecessary hardships due to your addictive behavior.

Anxious about visiting with your child?

If you feel a great deal of anxiety surrounding the first few visitation opportunities with your child, you should know that you are not alone in feeling this way.

Many parents who are in your shoes enter into a case feeling the same way. How you interact with your child in a supervised visitation setting can be quite a bit different than how you would if you were at home. You will need to learn how to manage your emotions and interact with your child in an unfamiliar setting.

Please work with your CPS caseworker before the first visitation session to learn what is and what is not appropriate behavior in their eyes. You can seek an appointment with the caseworker to talk about this subject in person so that you have their full attention. Often on the phone, you will feel like you cannot ask all the questions you want or receive the feedback you need to know how to proceed. Call your caseworker or supervisor and ask to speak to them in person for a minute.

Planning and coaching you through this step in the CPS case is part of what CPS does. You may have completely different expectations for how these visits will go than the CPS caseworker will. Keep in mind that the CPS worker has been through many of these cases before, whereas you likely have not.

While you may not see eye to eye with the CPS caseworker, you should remember that their experience trumps your feelings regarding how the visitation sessions will go. You are likely not going to get 100% of what you want out of the visitation sessions. Your best bet is to take advantage of the time, play by their rules, and work on the skills you need to improve to have your child returned home with you.

Do not miss the visitation sessions, if at all possible.

If you can do anything to avoid missing a visitation session, you should do so. Transportation issues, sickness, work issues, family issues, and a host of other problems can come up that could potentially sidetrack a visitation session. This is unfortunate yet understandable. However, if it becomes habitual that you are missing visitation sessions, then the CPS caseworker will likely seek out some time to discuss that issue with you.

It may just be that you need to prioritize this time with your child more seriously. It could be that you have to travel a great distance to visit with your child. If that is the case, then a location closer to your home may be sought. Whatever the case may be, work closely with the CPS employees provided to you so that you do not miss a single visitation session.

Suppose you are experiencing extreme difficulties in making the visits. Be sure to share that information with the CPS caseworker. They may be able to help you adjust something to make the visits more manageable. Finally, if you are going to miss a visit with your child, then you need to contact CPS as soon as possible to let them know. The same can be said if you anticipate being late for an appointment.

How will the CPS approach place your children into foster care?

The decision to remove your children from your home is not one that is easily reached by CPS. Despite what other people have told you, CPS is not eager to remove your children from your care. Doing so places a tremendous responsibility on the state to care for your children on a day to day basis. The cost and level of care necessary to meet that responsibility can be difficult for the state to meet.

You were likely very upset when your child was removed from your home. I think just about any parent out there reading this blog post would feel the same way. A mix of emotions- anger, shame, frustration, sadness- are the first that come to my mind when considering how I would feel as a parent were I in that position. Your children are likely to feel a range of emotions that are not dissimilar to your own. Keep that in mind as you begin the visitation process after their removal.

If your children are placed into foster care, those foster parents will need to build a relationship with your child. After all, those folks are taking your place in many ways to raise your children and keep them safe. Their job is not to replace you and your spouse but to stand in temporarily on your behalf while you work on securing your home and building strong parenting skills.

CPS will be guiding the foster family through this process. It isn’t as if the agency tosses your kids to a strange family and then leaves them to their own devices. On the contrary, the CPS caseworker has methods and tricks at their disposal to help this family learn how to take care of your child in the best manner possible.

The foster family will understand how important your relationship is with your child. The odds are decent that the foster family will have other children in the house besides your kids. CPS will make sure that the foster family is doing everything it can to encourage your children to enjoy their time with you and build a good relationship with you.

The basis of this process is that the foster family will need to understand that they are not able to take on the permanent responsibility of raising your kids. They are placeholders. An important placeholder, but a placeholder nonetheless. Their job is in part to do what it can to help with the ultimate goal of your CPS case, which is likely reunification of your child with you in your home.

More on foster families and CPS cases in tomorrow’s blog post

If you would like to learn more about foster families' role in CPS cases, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys work on behalf of clients across southeast Texas and do so with a great deal of pride. We have achieved superior results for our clients across the state by focusing on client goals and working tirelessly to help achieve those goals.

A consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is free of charge. Please contact us today to set up a consultation where you can receive direct feedback about your case and learn more about our office and the services we offer clients.

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  6. Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
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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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