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What you need to know about the Texas foster care system before a CPS case

If your child is involved in a CPS case in the state of Texas, then you need to be aware that he or she could be removed from your home and placed into foster care. I hate to put it to you so bluntly, but that is the reality of the situation. That doesn’t mean that he or she is never going to come home to you. It does mean that you will have to work to get him or she returned home.

Part of that work is learning about the CPS process and the people and institutions that are involved. The foster care system is one that figures to weigh heavily on your case if your child is removed from your home. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will seek to provide you with more information that we think is relevant to have as you begin your case.

What rights does your child have about the foster care system?

Your child may give permission and consent to their own medical treatment in some cases, as long as doing so is allowed by his or her health care provider. Many times this means that your child can undergo counseling or sexual, physical, or other trauma without your permission or that of their foster family.

If your child is over the age of 16, they can ask the judge to make some or all of their medical decisions for themselves. Your child would likely need to ask their attorney ad litem to help him or her further this goal.

If your daughter is pregnant and not married, she can agree to medical procedures associated with the pregnancy- other than abortion. Once a child is born, your daughter has the right to consent to medical treatment for her child just as any other mother would be able to.

What sort of information is your child able to obtain about their CPS case?

Many parents are interested in learning what sort of information their child will have access to regarding the CPS investigation. With so much going on around him or her, they probably have questions about what is happening. Once you have a contact for visitation, you can share a great deal of information about their case with him or her. What other sources of information available to your child during a case?

Your child can contact and speak privately to their caseworker, attorney ad litem, or Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). These folks are duty-bound to consider what is in your child's best interests and provide information that will help your child better understand their rights and the CPS case overall.

Your child will also be provided with an opportunity to attend hearings and even speak to the judge in their case. Depending on your child’s age, those interactions can involve where your child is living, and he or she would like to see happen regarding reunification with you in your home.

How is it possible for your child to live a normal life while in the custody of CPS?

The idea of foster care is not to insulate your child from the rest of the world and your family. The idea of foster care is to keep your child safe when your home environment is determined not to be suitable for that purpose. CPS would like your child to maintain friendships and relationships with family members while in the CPS case. Ideally, CPS would like you and your child to maintain and strengthen your relationships with one another.

If your child is placed into foster care, then your child can work with their foster family to go out and do things socially with friends or family. For the most part, this is between your child and their foster family.

CPS will not be doing background checks on your child’s friends before a sleepover visit occurs. For the most part, the closer your child gets to their foster family, the better off they will be regarding having an active life outside of foster care.

Planning for life after the CPS case

You, your child,d and CPS will be working together to plan for a permanent solution to your child’s housing situation. Most of the time, that plan will involve your child returning to your home. It involves your child living permanently with a foster family or a relative of yours in other scenarios. Planning for this reality begins as soon as your child is removed from your home and placed into the care of the foster family.

CPS must have a goal in mind regarding a permanent place for you to live after their case. If their goal does not involve a return to your home, they must include a transition plan for your child to be able to transition into living outside of your home permanently. These plans will include all of the specific steps needed to happen for your child to be kept safe.

What are the possible goals of a CPS case? The most common goal is returning your child to your home. Other goals could be having a relative of yours adopt your child (if your parental rights are terminated) or being placed into the permanent care of a relative. A document known as the Family Service and Child Service Plan will contain these recommendations and goals.

What is a family service plan?

The Family Service Plan in a Texas CPS case is an agreement between CPS, your child’s foster family, the judge, and you.

These groups will decide what changes or goals need to be made in your life to have you returned home permanently. A plan will be provided that will allow you to know what you have to do to meet these goals and the support structure that is available to you for assistance.

What is a child service plan?

The child service plan is a plan that will allow your child to receive the care that he or she needs while outside of your home. This plan will discuss what needs you have and the CPS services that will be utilized to ensure that you receive the care you need. The child service plan will cover things like your child’s health, education, experience with religion, and other important aspects of their life.

As I mentioned a moment ago, a child service plan's typical goal will be to place your child back in your home with you permanently. If your circumstances do not allow for a return home, other options will be explored. If your child is high school-aged, there will be information provided in the service plan that allows your child to transition better into adulthood.

What is expected of your child while he or she is in foster care?

Your child has a part to play in their relationship with their foster family and with CPS. Obviously,y more would be expected of an older child as opposed to a very young child. Bearing these limitations in mind, let’s discuss some of those expectations and responsibilities.

Your child will have a role to play with their caseworker as far as developing a game-plan that will lead your child towards a permanent location to live. This means that your child will have to be able to speak up for himself or herself and communicate their concerns in that way. Your child may express concerns and points of interest that cannot be communicated by any other person.

By that same token, CPS will be able to work with your child to schedule visitation sessions with you if your child would like there to be certain limitations or protections for their safety to be in place during a visitation session that can be communicated to their caseworker. Some children may want a more public setting for the visitation sessions to occur. Other times, children will want a private opportunity to meet with you. While your child will not determine all the aspects of these visitation sessions, their input will be sought by CPS.

What is expected of your child’s foster care family during the CPS case?

Your child’s foster family will be stepping into your shoes for a period of time and ensuring that your child is safe. The foster family will provide clothing, food, and shelter. If you have special clothes, toys, or other items that belong to your child, then those can be provided to your child’s foster family at the beginning of the CPS case.

The foster family has a responsibility to ensure that your child can communicate with you at the prescribed times and locations outlined in your court orders. They may not prevent your child from calling you on the phone, for example, as long as that is allowed under the court orders.

Basically, the foster family will teach your child the essentials to get through life and succeed in school. This is no different than what is expected of you when your child was living in your home. The foster parents will take your child to school events, doctor appointments, and other activities.

Certain elements of your child’s service plan can only be achieved with their foster family's assistance. As a result, CPS will make sure that your child’s foster family knows what is required under the service plan and how they can accomplish its objectives.

What is expected of your child’s CPS caseworker during the CPS case?

Your child’s caseworker with CPS is obligated to see your child regularly and engage with him or her in conversation. These interactions will need to occur on the phone at least one time per month. Phone calls between your child and their caseworker will likely occur with much greater frequency. To assist in this endeavor, the CPS caseworker will provide you and your child with their contact information.

The caseworker will also be responsible for keeping your child up to date with the next courtroom hearing in their case. Your child will be able to attend most any hearing with the judge, and CPS will provide that information to your child and their foster family so that your child may attend.

As far as you are concerned, the CPS caseworker will also work with your child to facilitate visitation sessions between you and your child. Your child can request to visit with not only you but with other persons as well. Obviously, the caseworker will be beholden to the court orders as ruled on by the judge in your case.

Interested in learning how your child could live temporarily with a relative during your CPS case? Please read our blog tomorrow to find out more about this subject.

We hope that the information that we have shared with you today has been helpful to you. If you have any questions about the material that we have written about, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys can schedule a free of charge consultation with you six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to ask questions and receive direct feedback about your case.

Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in serving clients in the family courts of southeast Texas. To find out more about the services that we offer, please contact us today.

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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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