We hear a lot in the media about recidivism when it comes to men and women who go to jail or prison one time, and that one time becomes two, three or four future stays in prison. It is a topic that is often discussed and hard to solve. A similar phenomenon occurs in the context of Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. With frequency, the same families that are involved in a CPS case end up having second and third cases with agencies after their initial case is closed out.
After reading through the past few days' worth of blog posts, I hope that this situation does not look like your own. I'm sure that after dealing with CPS for an extended period of time you would like nothing more than to never have to see them at your front door again. The key to achieving this goal would be to understand why CPS became involved in your life in the first place. What was it about you, your family or your child that led to their receiving a report about abuse or neglect? What can you do to best ensure that similar reports never have to be made to CPS in the future?
Reviewing risk factors for CPS involvement
From my experience working with families that have had CPS involved in their lives, there seem to be a few common characteristics that are shared between them. For starters, if your child has mental health or behavioral issue of some sort it is more likely that CPS will not only receive a report about you but will also be back in your life after your first case closes out. It could be that your child injures him or herself due to outbursts of anger. It could also be that you frequently appear frustrated with your child due to their impairments.
Whatever the case may be, you need to understand that if you have a child with physical or mental limitations it is critical that you obtain help for your family. Sometimes that help can be sought through your child's school. Sometimes your church or another civic organization may be able to assist you in locating help. In other situations, your child's pediatrician may be able to point you in the right direction. It is well worth your time and effort to investigate this further. Doing so may decrease the chances of CPS contacting you in the future.
Next, if you have a history of having a difficult time holding down a job or paying rent on time this is another reason why you may have multiple run-ins with CPS. The inability to provide for your child’s basic needs is a potential form of neglect. You are obligated to provide your child with shelter, food, clothing, etc. The failure to do so could lead to your child falling behind in school, becoming ill with great frequency or otherwise having trouble adjusting to life in society. Children in this sort of situation are somewhat obvious to spot. The more conspicuous your child is in terms of suffering from abuse or neglect the more likely someone is to pick up the phone to contact CPS.
Finally, and this one is tough to talk about if you have been the victim of domestic violence in the past it is more likely that CPS could become involved in your life on multiple occasions. As we have discussed in previous blog posts, if you are being abused (or are abusing another person in your home) that places your child at a serious risk of suffering harm him or herself. Think about what would happen if your small son attempted to intervene and tried to get between you and your attacker? It is likely that he, too, would be physically harmed as a result of that altercation. The chances of a child being caught up in these incidents are relatively high, unfortunately. If you cannot (or will not) take the steps to protect yourself from situations like this, you will be unable to protect your child. That is a textbook situation for CPS to become involved in your life as a result.
Drug and alcohol abuse are serious
If you were first brought to the attention of CPS due to your having abused drugs or alcohol with your children in the home then you know how serious it is to battle an addiction to these substances. It could be that the first time you were able to seek treatment for these problems was due to the involvement of CPS. Many times a parent will lose their parental rights due to drug addiction. Seeing as how you were fortunate enough to not suffer that fate, how can you protect yourself from falling into that same situation again?
My advice would be to take a serious, and honest look at yourself and to understand that you could relapse and start using those substances again. All of us have situations that lead us to bad behavior. You need to be able to recognize what those situations are for you and then to do whatever it takes to remove them from your life.
You will need to continue attending counseling or therapy sessions that have assisted you in not using drugs or alcohol. Even when your CPS case concludes you need to keep going to these classes. In the event that you need to seek additional help for your addictions, you should have a plan in place that will address where your children can go to be cared for. The support system that you developed during your CPS case will still be majorly important after your case has concluded.
Related to this subject is one that we discussed earlier in today's blog post- domestic violence. If your spouse or partner has engaged in violence in your home, it is more likely than not in order to get custody of your child that the abuser needed to have been removed from your home. However, another unfortunate phenomenon of being the victim of domestic violence on one occasion is that it is more likely that you will become a victim with a new partner. Men and women who are violent with their partners tend to be very good at picking people to engage in relationships with who will be more submissive and allowing bad behavior. As a result, you need to have a plan in place to remove yourself and your children from a dangerous situation.
Becoming organized is the key to overcoming a CPS case
If you have not figured it out by now, CPS cases can be very complicated. As such, you will need to keep everything straight that is going on in your life. It is impossible to do so without making an effort to be organized. If you know that organization and forethought are not among your strengths as a person then you need to take steps to fix that. I don’t know that I can be any more clear than to say it that way.
Managing your case is not the job of your CPS caseworker. It is your job. You are going to be the one who determines the success of your case or how quickly you can get your child back in your home. CPS does not want to be involved in your life. Your CPS caseworker does not jump up out of bed each morning, excited to sit and talk with you about your family. Their preference would be to determine that your home is safe and to leave your family alone. Help the agency achieve that goal by becoming better organized in your daily life.
For instance, every time that you talk to a person related to your case you should write down their name, phone number, the date and time that you spoke and a short summary of the conversation. Yes, it can get tedious to do this every time you pick up the phone but it could be very helpful if you forget about an important update or request that CPS has made of you. It could also be important if the judge asks you a question about contacting CPS during a hearing. Imagine how good you would feel to be able to open up your detailed call log and refer to it during a hearing? The judge would likely be very impressed as well.
Next, I would recommend that you use a separate checklist to help you get to read for each visitation session that you have with your child. One line of the checklist should be devoted to each visit. The date, time, location and the activities that you engaged in should be noted. In the event that you are late to a visitation session, you should specify why you were late in case that becomes an issue later in your case. Any behavioral issues that your child experienced during a visitation session should also be noted.
A personal to-do list for you and your family
You will be following various “plans” during your CPS case. Safety and service plans are the most common and you will be expected to work with CPS in creating them and in following them. It can become difficult to manage both plans at the same time, so I recommend that you create a to-do list for yourself to keep everything straight.
The list does not have to be complicated but it does have to be written down. If you need to start looking for a new place to live, for instance, you should write that down so you don’t forget to contact a realtor or apartment locator. Little things like that can be lost in the shuffle and can contribute to the lengthening of a CPS case. Another issue that I see come up in CPS cases all the time is the need to coordinate transportation. Work with your support system well ahead of time to schedule a ride to and from court, counseling sessions or mediation. If you don’t think that your ride is the most trustworthy person in the world it may be worth your while to schedule a back-up, just in case.
Last bits of advice
I have spent a lot of time with you all the past few days going through elements of CPS cases. This is for a good reason- CPS cases are among the most difficult to manage and most emotionally taxing of all family law cases. Hopefully, the tips and information that we have shared will benefit you and your family during an otherwise tough time in your lives. If you document everything you do, stay organized and stay focused on your child then you have a strong chance of coming out of your CPS case with your family intact.
The whole purpose of CPS becoming involved in your life is to ensure the safety of your child. If you can show them that you are capable of being that safe parent then you will be able to move on from this case sooner rather than later. Thank you for your time and attention as we did our best to help you achieve whatever goals you have for yourself in regard to your own CPS case.
Questions or concerns with a Texas CPS case? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
It is normal to have questions if you are contacted by CPS. Before you do something to hurt your case it is best to seek legal advice from attorneys who have been there and done that. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan employs family law attorneys who not only have helped people in your shoes before, but they have helped people be successful in doing so. We work on behalf of people in our community just like you every day.
For a free of charge consultation with our office please do not hesitate to contact us today. We meet with folks six days a week in our office.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Visitation Modification
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
- Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
- Texas Parental Relocation
- Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
- Family Law Cases in Texas: Examining the steps in a Child Protective Services case
- Texas Family Courts: Child Protective Services, Part Two
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.