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Family visitation during a Texas Child Protective Services case

No later than the thirtieth day after the date on which the Department of Family and Protective Services is named as the temporary managing conservator of your child, the agency must create a visitation plan in collaboration with you. The only exception to this rule is if the goal of the agency is to note reunite you and your child. 

Now that we have established that there will likely we a visitation plan in your CPS case, the next question we need to ask ourselves is how frequent the visits can be between you and your children. In making a determination about this question, the Department will be considering the safety and best interests of your child as well as their age. What you want as far as a visitation plan is concerned will be a relevant factor as well. 

A "stair step" visitation plan is also possible. A stair-step plan is basically one where your child begins with having supervised visitation with you. This is a relatively short visitation session (2-4 hours) at either a facility that specializes in supervised visits or in a public place like a park or restaurant. From there, as you achieve the goals set forth in your service plan, you will able to visit with your child more frequently and eventually will not need your visits to be supervised at all. 

Why is visitation so important to your case?

Once your child is removed from your home you will quickly come to realize just how important spending time with your child is. It is possible to sometimes take for granted our ability as parents to see our kids and spend time with them whenever we would like. However, once that right is taken away it can change our perspective on parenting and sharing those responsibilities with the State of Texas. 

First off, your child is able to visit with you is great for their well-being. The most significant reason why you will be given the opportunity to visit with your child is that it is critical in order to maintain the parent-child bond and relationship. Having to go months and months without seeing your child on a regular basis is tough on you and your child. To be able to return your child to your home with the smallest amount of difficulty it is important that you maintain the strong relationship that you had with your child previously. Don't let the CPS case ruin that.

Your child may be feeling a sense of abandonment and a sense that nobody is looking out for her. You may not be able to help these feelings but you can be present to remind your child that there is hope for your family moving forward. It is virtually impossible for you to perk up your children without being there for them. Any visitation that you negotiate for in your CPS case should be taken advantage of. 

Want to get your kids back home on a permanent basis? Visitation will get you there

The more often that you are able to visit with your children during your CPS case, the better off you will be when it comes to planning with CPS for the return home of your children on a permanent basis. It will take some time for your children to adjust to being with you under changed circumstances. You are going to need some time to accomplish all the goals set out for you in your service plan, as well. 

Keep in mind that you will find it difficult to do any of these things without being able to see your children on a regular basis throughout the CPS case. Do not look at visitation as something to get upset with because you cannot visit with your kids as much as you would like. Look at it as an opportunity to get to spend time with your kids and take the steps necessary for you to wrap up your case. 

Remember that your family is affected by this case as well

It is easy to lose sight of this, but your family will be impacted by the CPS case, as well. Maintaining the relationship that your family has with your children is part of the challenge of a CPS case as well. It’s not just your parents and your brothers and sisters that are impacted here. If you have other children that are not impacted by the CPS investigation, those siblings of the child in state custody will want to see their brother and sister as well. 

Summary: Visitation during a CPS case is extremely important

Off the top of my head, here are just a handful of reasons why visitation during a CPS case is especially important:

-You and your spouse will have an opportunity to see how your child is doing. You can work with CPS during your case to make sure that your child is receiving the specialized care that is needed

-the more time that you are able to spend time with your child, the better chance that you will have to be able to be reunified with your child. If you are struggling with your parenting at the beginning of a CPS case, the only way to improve those skills while the case is ongoing is to work on those skills. Learning new skills and putting them into practice with your children is the only real way to do this. If you can’t practice those skills then the odds of your child not being returned to your home increases dramatically

-You should ask yourself what your strengths and weaknesses are as a parent. This is an honest assessment of yourself that during the hustle and bustle of our normal lives we probably cannot give. What do you need to work on? How do you plan on improving those skills? Do you know who to work with at CPS to get information on classes, training or anything else that can help to improve your chances at ending your case with your child returned home to you?

-Visiting with your child will help foster a sense of attachment between you both. No two parent-child relationships are the same. However, for you and your child to make it out of this case with your relationship intact, you will need to be able to help foster that relationship even during the case itself. Depending on the age of your child it Is not enough to tell your child how you feel and how important it is for you both to be able to see one another while the case is ongoing. Rather, you will need to help create/strengthen an emotional bond

-What degree of pain are you experiencing as a result of your child being removed from your home? No person can predict just how they will feel as a result of their involvement in the CPS case. With that said, if you have emotions that need to be worked out as a result of the case, the best place for you to do that is with your child. Use the frustration, the sadness, the optimism, etc. when you are with your child to help improve your ability to bond with him or her. Allowing CPS to see that you are taking your responsibility seriously can help to decrease the length of your case

-Some children will blame themselves when bad things happen in their family. I have become aware of many children who have blamed themselves for their parents getting a divorce. It is even possible for your child to blame himself for having caused a CPS case to happen. While this couldn’t be any further from the truth, kids blame themselves for things that they do not understand a lot of times. You can help make sure that your child knows that it is not their fault that this is happening by affirming your love for him or her in visitation sessions

-If this CPS case isn’t motivating you to be a better parent, I don’t know what will. No matter circumstances have led to you being involved with CPS, it is fair to say that there is some aspect of your parenting/family life/home life that could use improvements. That can be said for all of us parents reading this. Do not look at this CPS case as an opportunity for you to be down in the dumps and feel sorry for yourself. Instead, look at it as one of the only times in your life that there will be a larger than normal support structure set up for the express purpose of improving your parenting skills

-Visitation sessions are the best chance that you will have throughout your case to get updates about your child? How is he doing in school? How is he adjusting to life in a new home? Are there are any problems in that home? If there are legitimate concerns about how well your child is doing you may only be able to learn about them directly from your child during a visitation session. You can then report that information to CPS for them to follow up on

What is a parent information and observation from?

This is information that is provided to parents in order to assist them with making your visits with your child during the CPS investigation as meaningful as possible for you and your child. This is a relatively recent addition to visitation sessions that you will have with your child during the CPS case. If your visitation sessions are supervised (which they may be at least at the outset of your case), a CPS caseworker will observe your visitations from a distance and will provide feedback to you based on what they have observed. 

Since your visits will be monitored in all likelihood, you need to attend each of your visitation sessions on time. If you do not do this, your child will be the one who suffers the most. They are most likely looking forward to each of your visits and will be sad if you are not there at the exact time that CPS or their foster family told her that you would be. If you are running late to an appointment you should contact your caseworker and let him or her know ahead of time so that your child can be made aware of what is happening. 

It is tempting to want to make promises to your child about things that you will do or steps that you will take in conjunction with getting him or her home. However, I would recommend against you doing this. The reason I do not recommend that you do so is that you do not have a lot of control over some aspects of your case. The courts and CPS have more control than you do over how long your case lasts and what judicial steps are necessary to get your child home. You can control your own behavior and your own attitude. That's about it. Spend time with your child and reinforce your love for him or her.

Questions about CPS cases in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material that we shared with you today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. From Angleton to Galveston and over to Katy, we represent clients across southeast Texas and do so with a great deal of pride. 

If you are going through a CPS case, you need to know that you do not have to do so alone. We are attorneys who have worked with clients facing difficult CPS circumstances. If you have questions or need guidance please come see us today. We will help provide you with information and can share with you a game plan as to how our office can assist you in achieving whatever goals you have for yourself. 

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