Having another person oversee the interactions that you have with your child is downright awkward. Imagine having a stranger sitting in your living room on Christmas morning while you and the kids opened up presents. Or think about what it would be like if you had a CPS caseworker in your kitchen as you were disciplining your son for purposefully dumping out a box of cereal all over the floor. Those are very intimate moments- different from one another- but intimate nonetheless. They are shared between you and your child and are not intended to be made known to the world at large.
If you are involved in a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation, it is not always possible for you to interact and discipline your children to the degree that you would like. When CPS becomes a part of your life, it is because some person has made an allegation of abuse or neglect against you. When that occurs, CPS has within its power the ability to remove your child from your home if it believes that doing so would be in your child’s best interests.
To have visitation time with your children after this, it is likely that CPS will insist that those periods of visitation be supervised. This means that another adult will be present throughout the time that you share with your child. As your case proceeds, it is possible that your visitation would be changed to be unsupervised, but for now, you will need to show CPS that you are capable of spending time with your child without placing your child at risk of being harmed.
The beginning part of today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will center around supervised visitation. What is it like, how long can it persist, and what can you do to make the best of it- for you and your child?
Supervised visits take place at CPS offices- most of the time.
Depending on the part of Texas where you live, you will likely have supervised visits with your child at a CPS field office. Your child’s foster family or the person caring for your child (friend or family member of yours) will bring your child to this visit. CPS will not provide you with transportation, so you will need to work that out in advance. Do not plan on having just one option for transportation. If your ride to the visit has to go in for work or has a sick child to take care of, you will need to find another way to make it for the visitation session.
There are special rooms at CPS offices dedicated to allowing moms and dads to interact and visit with one another for extended periods of time. These rooms have toys, games, and comfortable places for you all to sit. A CPS employee will likely observe the visitation session from another room via a one-way mirror. In some circumstances, the CPS employee may be in the same room as you and your child.
Most of the time, there is no need for you to interact with the CPS employee who is observing your visits. He or she is there only to make sure that your child is safe. It may be that your CPS caseworker is the one who will be supervising the visit, or another employee of CPS may fill in if your caseworker is not available. It is possible that your child could begin to behave poorly, and in that case, you can ask the supervisor for some assistance in calming your child down.
Other people involved in your CPS case may watch your interactions with your child as well. For example, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) may observe your visits as well. He or she is not a lawyer but is a volunteer from the community brought into your case to observe the relationship that you have with your child. Their observations can then be testified to in court. Since you do not know who is watching you, you must always behave appropriately. Do not let frustrations or other emotions get in the way of what can be a great opportunity bond with your child.
You are responsible for your child’s needs during a visit.
Even though CPS may have temporary conservatorship rights over your child, you are still responsible for their basic needs while he or she is with you. Diapers, wipes, and clothes change all wise things to bring with you to visitation sessions. Lastly, it is a good idea to put your cell phone in the glove box or center console of your vehicle while you are inside visiting with your child. We all get tempted from time to time when looking at social media instead of devoting all of your attention to your kids. Doing so during a supervised visitation session would not be a good idea at all.
Maintain a positive attitude during a supervised visit
Nobody is going to argue with you that supervised visits are not ideal. It is weird to have another person looking at you while trying to interact and bond with your child. It may be weeks between the times that you are even able to see your child. This can add to the awkward nature of the interaction. With that said, these visits are all you have right now. Take advantage of the time you are given, and you will likely be awarded more time as your case proceeds.
The end goal of these interactions is to allow yourself and the opportunity to have your child return home to you. This can't happen unless you are calm and conduct yourself in a dignified and adult-like manner. Acting frustrated and angry towards your child, CPS, or anyone else will reflect poorly upon you and can add to the time that your child spends out of your house. Since you do not want this to happen, I suggest that you control yourself and your emotions during this time.
Rules of supervised visitation are straightforward to follow.
It’s not like you will be told how to play with your child during a supervised visit. However, there are unwritten rules that you will need to follow to get the maximum amount of benefit from each session. For instance, you should always check in with your caseworker on the day before your scheduled visitation session to ensure that the visit is going to occur as scheduled. Your child might be ill, the foster family cannot bring him or her, or the caseworker will not be present. In those instances, you may need to be flexible with rescheduling the visit.
Next, you need to be on time for these visitation sessions. It would help if you were honest with yourself regarding whether you are likely to arrive late. If you are constantly late to appointments, I recommend that you do whatever you can to leave early for these visits. You are making a lot of other people wait for you. When your relationship with your child hangs in the balance, it is not smart to have these other people involved in your case become frustrated with you regularly.
Finally, you should attend every scheduled visitation session. No excuses. If you are sick or injured or have an emergency come up, that is understandable, and you should not be expected to attend those minimal circumstances. Otherwise, it would help if you plan on attending each session. Remember- if you cannot be counted on to attend supervised visits for your child. It is unlikely that you will be given more time to spend with him or her as your case proceeds. You may know that you are a great parent who can be trusted, but CPS may not know this. It is your responsibility to show them that.
The importance of supervised visitation on your case
The most important aspect of supervised visits in a CPS case is that your child can see you and spend time with you. Depending on your child's age and maturity, he or she may not understand everything that is going on in your case. All he or she knows is that their ability to see you has decreased. With that kind of uncertainty in their lives, the stability that a visit with you can provide is incredibly important. Do not think that you are less of a parent or less needed now that you are involved in a CPS case. In fact, the opposite is true- you are needed now more than ever in their lives.
Another important aspect of parenting your child in these supervised settings is that you are allowed to show CPS how capable a parent you truly are. It may not be fair, but a CPS caseworker may see you only through the perspective of a person who is skeptical about your ability to parent your child safely. Use these supervised sessions to show that you are more than capable of being a good and diligent parent to your child.
Visitation sessions that are supervised are designed to help your case.
CPS does not want to have to keep you from being in contact with your child. That is not their goal (in most cases). Their goal is to reunite you with your child. It is really up to you how quickly that happens. The folks with CPS are overburdened with work and do not have the ability to have you attend all the parenting classes and visitation sessions that have been laid out for you. The bottom line is that you are the one who will determine how quickly your case is resolved- not CPS.
CPS will watch how you and your child interact with one another. They can provide you with helpful feedback on what you do well as a parent and what you could do differently to improve your skills. It can be difficult to receive criticism from another person when it comes to parenting. However, you should take their feedback in stride and aim to do better the next time you are allowed to be with your child. If no feedback is offered, you should ask the CPS caseworker for their thoughts.
You can provide updates to CPS caseworkers on the courses you are attending and the progress you are making while engaging in supervised visits. If your visits with your child go well, then your caseworker can recommend that a family member of yours be able to supervise the visits in your home or the family member’s home. A park, a restaurant, or other more “fun” location are also possibilities. The bottom line is that you should view these visitation opportunities to show that you are a capable and loving parent. The allegations made to them about your past behavior may or may not be true. However, they do not have to define you as you move into the future.
Questions about how to prepare for a supervised visit with your child? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have provided strong and effective advocacy for southeast Texans for nearly a decade. Our philosophy is client-centric, meaning that your interests are the most important aspect of your case. We will work with you to accomplish whatever goals you have for your case. If you have questions about the material we covered in today’s blog post, please contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys to answer your questions and address whatever concerns you may have.
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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.