One of the most intense and emotional aspects of family law are those cases that deal with Child Protective Services (CPS) removing a child from a parent’s home. If you find yourself in a position like this where you believe that the agency may remove your child due to a finding of abuse or neglect made against you then you need to be aware of how that removal could actually occur.
So much of this process is beyond your control, it would seem, that it would be easy to say that there is nothing that you can do to help your child. Why not just sit back and allow CPS to do their job and work with them after the removal in order to ensure that your child is protected and safe?
I would definitely caution any parent, yourself included, from thinking like the above person. There is a great deal that you can do to ensure that your child is protected, your rights are being advocated for and CPS is being held accountable for acting according to the law. Reading today’s blog post could be the first step that you take towards bettering yourself and your family with these goals in mind.
Today we will be discussing details of the removal process. You may have had family members or friends whose children have been involved with CPS but I can tell you that no two cases are created equal. I would not advise you to rely solely upon the experiences of other people when it comes to figuring out what is likely to happen for you and your family. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will hopefully prepare you for this experience if you do have to face up to it.
Will the removal of your child be done by force, if necessary?
CPS is prohibited from using force towards you or your child in order to have you comply with a decision of theirs or a court's order. However, the force could be utilized by a police officer if one is present with the CPS employee at the time that the removal is supposed to occur. In the event that you refuse to allow your child to be removed from your home then force may be the only option available to ensure that the removal can occur.
It could be that your child is the one who attempts to prevent the removal from happening. It is not unheard of that children use violence as a method of refusing to comply with a removal procedure. In that type of situation, CPS may take whatever steps are necessary to restrain your child in order to protect everyone involved in the removal. From my experience, however, these situations are not common and you should not expect violence to be present during the removal of your child.
Obviously, you would like violence and fierce emotions like this to not be a part of any removal of your child from your home. The seemingly sudden removal of your child from the house could understandably be jarring for that child. This is an avoidable situation, for the most part. Nobody would try to argue that all of the emotion could be removed from this type of scenario but telling your child in advance about what will happen and what you as their parent are going to do to help protect him or she is a good place to start. At least in doing so, you are communicating to your child that you are going to continue to advocate for him or her and that there is a plan that is going to be in place to have him or she returned home as quickly as possible.
The best thing that you can be is honest with your child. Do not attempt to sugar coat the situation or deceive your child in some way. For instance, telling your child some half-truth about CPS abusing their power to remove your child would be doing a disservice to everyone involved. Your best bet is to tell your child that you are going to work on betting yourself and your home because that is what your child deserves. Anything less would be selling your child and the process short.
What belongings should your child take with you when he or she is removed from your home?
Depending on where your child is removed from, he or she could be limited from bringing much of anything with him or her to a foster family’s home. However, if he or she is removed from your home then you may be able to help him or her pack up some clothes, a toothbrush and toys to help ease the transition.
In the event that your child is taken to a foster home from their school or another location that is not your home then CPS or the foster family will provide your child with what they need as far as everyday essentials are concerned. Typically, what happens is that you will be allowed to pack up additional items for your child and bring them to him or her during a visitation session.
What kind of home will your child be taken to after the removal occurs?
Space is the key. If space is not an issue for the CPS employee then your child could be taken to a number of different CPS facilities, foster family homes or a group home. However, the CPS employee may not know exactly where your child will be taken at the time that he or she is removed from your home. That may need to be worked out with other people with CPS, including the case supervisor. Your child may be taken to a home for a short period while a more permanent residence is located or made ready for him or her.
Single-family foster homes, shelters, or a group foster home are the most likely landing places for your child. If your child is suffering from abuse or neglect and requires medical care then he or she may be taken to a hospital or doctor's office to be examined.
The goal will be to have your children remain together if you have more than one child that is being removed from your home. That is not always possible, however. As we have already touched on, space is a huge factor when determining where children end up while in CPS custody. If there is a facility or home available that has sufficient space for multiple children, then it is more likely that they will be able to remain together.
It is possible that CPS will not tell you where your child is going to be placed. Their reasoning for doing so is typical because there is a concern that you will be a threat to harm the caregivers or otherwise interfere with the foster process. As a result, CPS may refuse to tell you where your child is going to be taken. Instead, your child will be taken to a third party home or visitation facility in order to allow you to see him or her.
Do you have the ability to determine where your child will be residing?
You can and should provide CPS will the names and contact information for persons that you would prefer your child to reside with you are waking on your safety plan or whatever goals that you have agreed to with CPS. Shelters that provide temporary care for children in the initial days after removal are common landing places. This is especially true if you do not provide CPS with any alternatives.
A Child Caregiver Resource Form should be filled out once your caseworker provides it to you. The best thing that you can do for your child and for yourself is to contact family members ahead of time to let them know that you plan on using them as a resource to potentially house your children if it comes to that.
Letting the family member know that CPS may be contacting them directly to discuss this possibility is a polite way to do so. Many people will not cooperate with CPS not for any ill will towards them, but from sheer lack of knowledge as to who they are.
I have clients who will not pick up my initial phone calls because they do not recognize my phone number. You can avoid problems like this by telling your cousin that a CPS employee may be contacting her so that she can prepare for the phone call and be ready when it is received.
CPS will contact the person to introduce themselves and will inform your family member that a background check will be performed in order to gauge the suitability of that family member for care. Home visits to inspect their residence will occur following a criminal investigation. Your family member will likely have to sit for an interview with CPS as well. As long as your family member passes the criminal background search and their home is suitable for housing a child it is probable that this is where your child will reside.
If your child is not placed with a friend or family member that does not mean that he or she will not be at some point in the process. You can and should continually update your CPS caseworker with names of persons that may be suitable temporary parents of your child. Additionally, as you transition into the phase of your case where court appearances occur your attorney can speak to the judge about the possibility of having your child move in with family if your circumstances merit that kind of move.
What is foster care in the context of a CPS case?
I have already used the term foster care a few times so I figure it would make sense to introduce the topic to you in greater detail. Foster care is basically a situation where the state of Texas takes temporary custody of your child and places him or her in another person’s home. The adults living in that home are known as foster parents and are approved by the state to act in that capacity. Foster families are typically paid money for that service they provide the state with.
Foster family placement occurs most often in situations where CPS determines that you are not capable of providing a safe living environment for your child – at least for the time being. Relatives and family friends (who are suitable hosts) would be the preferred location for a child to reside temporarily, if available. It does not always work out that you have friends or family who are willing to act in this capacity. In that event, a foster family would be assigned to care for your child.
We will begin tomorrow’s blog post by discussing the types of foster care environments your child could be placed into. In order so that you can know what kind of environment your child is going into it is recommended that you return tomorrow to learn more about this important subject.
Questions about foster care and CPS? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are honored to be able to serve the community that we live and work in. People from all across southeast Texas work with our office to help themselves and their families through difficult family law circumstances. If you are interested in learning more about our office and the services that can provide you and your family please contact us today.
We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys. A consultation is a great opportunity for you to ask questions and have your issues addressed directly in a comfortable, pressure-free environment. Thank you for your time and consideration in reading today's blog post.