To begin with, we should establish what CPS is so that we can learn more about what happens when a person makes a report to CPS. CPS stands for Child Protective Services. CPS is a branch of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). This is a state agency that exists to ensure the safety of adults and children by promoting environments that are safe and free from abuse and neglect.
When CPS initiates an investigation regarding abuse or neglect of a child they will reach out to you as the parent of the child in question. This can be done via phone or in person. What CPS wants from you is information and participation in their investigation. In many cases the more information you can provide the easier it is for them to conduct their investigation and make a final determination as to whether or not abuse or neglect occurred. Or, it may not be in your best interests or those of your child for you to participate in their investigation. That is the difficulty of the process- deciding about how and when you should participate in a CPS investigation.
If your child is removed from your home as a result of a CPS investigation then you need to know the circumstances in which that can be done. The agency can present evidence to a judge to have your child removed if they believe that he or she is in danger of being abused or neglected. CPS would take temporary conservatorship over your child in that case. This means that CPS could have your child and make decisions on their behalf temporarily until your case could be sorted out.
Even if your child is removed from your home then you should know the goal of the agency in most cases will be to return your child and reunify your family. Throughout the life of a case, you will be allowed to work with CPS about how to have your child returned most readily. This can be done through a process called Family Based Safety Services (FBSS) or even through safety planning through the investigation itself. You may be able to gain access to resources that can help you and your family like drug or alcohol counseling, anger management courses, or even co-parenting workshops that will help you parent your child with a former spouse or significant other.
What can happen if reunification is not possible?
When it comes to CPS investigating your case many outcomes could occur as a result. In some instances, CPS will look into the case and determine there is not sufficient evidence for a finding of abuse or neglect of your child. At that time the investigation will cease in your case will be closed. However, CPS may be able to gather sufficient evidence to make it a termination that abuse or neglect has occurred. When that happens the agency will take steps to protect your child.
One of the ways that CPS may determine that it can best protect your child is to remove your child temporarily from your home. In this case, the agency would work with you on reunification as we have discussed. If you fail to Participate or do anything that hinders the ability of CPS to be able to conduct their investigation then their goal may not be to reunify you and your child. Rather, a permanent removal and termination of your parent-child relationship may be what is recommended.
When CPS approaches you and your family they will attempt to prevent any additional harm from befalling your child. Additionally, I do not want to give you the impression that the agency will certainly be removing your child from your home no matter what circumstances you are facing. Rather, the agency will attempt to allow your child to remain in your home if at all possible. In most cases, if you work with your CPS caseworker And cooperate to the best of your ability then termination of parental rights will never be an option in your case.
If CPS decides to remove your child it will do so while seeking to Place your child with a family member or other close relation to your child. This will be done to not disrupt the life of your child and to allow him to continue to engage in school and other familiar activities. You will be able to play a part in this discussion by submitting a list of persons who would be suitable temporary childcare providers for your son or daughter. You will likely be given a period to think about who you would like to name and be considered for temporary placement while you work with CPS to have your child returned home to you.
There may also be some degree of dysfunction in your household either between you and your spouse or even between children. In that case, you will be allowed during the CPS case to be able to resolve whatever dysfunction is occurring in your family so that the environment is safe for your child to return. This is an incredible fact-specific circumstance that would require you to take charge of your family and make decisions that can be uncomfortable or even awkward. however, since your Goal will be for you to have your child return home to you there will need to be some concessions made on your part in all likelihood. Part of this discussion maybe even have adults who presented a threat to your child removed from your home.
Termination of a parent's parental rights there's never the first option for CPS. Rather, this is typically only something that is proposed after your child is no longer able to be returned home. In many cases, parents in your position will willingly accept termination of their parental rights. You would need to look at your specific circumstances and decide about your willingness to participate in a CPS case as well as the remedial measures proposed for the case.
However, if there is no immediate threat of harm to your child then CPS would likely not remove your child from the home. Or, CPS may give you a limited amount of time to remove a threat of harm to your child, and then they would consider allowing your child to remain in the home. In that case, time would be of the essence and it would be important for you to be able to Follow through with the steps proposed by CPS and work with them to ensure that your child can remain in your home moving forward.
What happens after your child is removed from the home?
ultimately, if CPS is removed from your home, then a series of events will occur that hopefully will result in your child being able to come back home as soon as possible. you would likely need to attend at least one court hearing as well as work with CPS on an ongoing basis to get your child back. And that sort of circumstance it would be beneficial to have an attorney by your side to help represent you. Bear in mind that having an attorney to represent you can allow you to participate more fully in an investigation and protect your rights and those of your child.
If you have any questions about the material that you read in this blog post or regarding a specific CPS case that your family is facing, then I would recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a family law case or the beginning of a CPS investigation.
How does CPS define abuse or neglect?
Abuse and neglect are two terms that have a lot of general usage in our society, but that CPS defines in very certain ways when it comes to their investigations. You need to understand how those terms are defined to proceed with a case related to one of your children.
In the Texas family code, abuse can mean mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child's growth, development, or psychological functioning. Additionally, it can also mean causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable material impairment in the child's growth, development, or physical functioning. Finally, abuse can mean a physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child.
Neglect includes the leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intense not to return the child by a parent, guardian or managing or possessory conservator or the child. Additionally, neglect can mean placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would understand required judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to your child.
There are additional components to the definitions for abuse or neglect of a child that is contained in the Texas family code. However, I think that these definitions are a good starting point for us to be able to consider what it means for a child to have been abused or neglected. As you can see, abuse is not always had to mean a physical injury to your child. By the same token, neglect of a child Does not necessarily need to lead to an injury only the risk that an injury or other bad outcome may have occurred due to an action taken by you or two actions on your part.
Understanding these definitions and how they play out in real life is just one more reason why it can be extremely beneficial for you to have the advice of an experienced family law attorney available to you. If you go through the Texas family code and look up the definitions of abuse or neglect you will see that these can be somewhat complicated definitions and understanding them in the context of your real life can be even more difficult. As a result, being able to piece all this information together can take a team of people to assist you. Having a lawyer in your corner not only to advocate on your behalf in the legal system but also to teach you what you need to know to make good decisions for yourself and your child is essential to this process.
What persons will you meet during your CPS case?
CPS will be represented by an attorney who will either work for CPS directly or for a district or county attorney's office in the area where you live. Whenever you have court dates on behalf of your child CPS, we'll likely have an attorney present that will speak on behalf of the agency. Throughout the case process, the attorney for CPS will have to be able to share with and show a family court judge why your child needs to continue to be in the Cassidy of CPS and outside of your home.
While you may assume that you are representing your child's best interests in a CPS case, the court will have a separate representative appointed on behalf of your child. This person is known as an attorney ad litem. The attorney ad litem will provide legal services to your child. In this way, the attorney will be charged with having loyalty to your child's interests. Any conversations between your child and this attorney must be kept private. The attorney had let him will meet with the child and talk with any family members or are their adults who are playing a role in your child's life such as a teacher or doctor. In the courtroom, the attorney ad litem on your child's behalf and will work with the family court judge to help determine what steps should be taken to keep your child safe and promote their best interests.
There may also be someone known as a court-appointed special advocate who is involved in your child's case. This is a trained volunteer who will assist abused or neglected children who go through the family courts and a CPS case. This person he's a volunteer who will meet with your child periodically in reporting back to the family court judge on how your child is doing. The volunteer will also be able to make recommendations about what is in your child's best interests as far as placement is concerned.
The CPS caseworker will be made known to you either at the very beginning of a case or after your child has been removed from your home. The CPS caseworker assigned to your child's case may be the same person who conducts the initial interview and investigation, or it may be someone different. Either way, this person will be your primary point of contact throughout the life of your case. The caseworker will likely ask questions of you or anyone in your household to obtain information about your child's case. The CPS caseworker will meet with your child regularly and will keep you updated on how your child is doing. It is a CPS caseworker that will work with you to develop a safety plan that you need to follow to have your child returned home to you.
Finally, you will be able to attend mediation at a certain point in your case that allows for you to meet with an experienced mediator, the CPS caseworker, and the attorney for CPS. The mediator will work to make sure that you all have an opportunity to settle in an agreement to either have your child returned home, continue to be in CPS custody, or even terminate your parental rights. If a final agreement is reached that does not involve the termination of your parental rights, you may be able to avoid a trial altogether. The mediator is a neutral party.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.