Child Protective Services (CPS) 101

Child Protective Services 101

Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) is a branch of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

The five major programs of DFPS care:

  • Adult Protective Services Protects the elderly and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation through investigations and services.
  • Child Protective Services Protects children from abuse and neglect through services, foster care, and adoption.
  • Child Protective Investigations Investigates reports of child abuse or neglect to determine if any child in the family has been abused or neglected. If the children aren’t safe, the investigator starts protective services.
  • Prevention and Early Intervention Manages community-based programs that prevent juvenile delinquency and child abuse and neglect.
  • Statewide Intake Takes reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation from across the state through its Texas Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-5400) and through the website

Protecting the Vulnerable

Texas law says anyone who thinks a child, or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited must report it to DFPS. A person who reports abuse in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability. DFPS keeps the name of the person making the report confidential. Anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect, but fails to report it, can be charged with a misdemeanor or state felony.

If a child appears to be in immediate danger, call 911.

Child Protective Services Defense

If your family is being investigated for abuse or neglect, you could lose custody of your kids. Our skilled attorneys can help defend you in court.

How Investigations Are Handled

Anyone making an allegation will be asked specific questions related to the type of abuse and neglect (emotional, sexual, medical care, physical care, supervision).

There also are some basic general questions anyone making an abuse or neglect report will be asked:

CPI examines reports of child abuse or neglect and may interview family members and others with knowledge to get enough information to make safety decisions. At the end of the investigation, a ruling –called a disposition – is made about the allegations.

Possible dispositions include the following:

  • Reason to believe. Abuse or neglect occurred based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means when all evidence is weighed, it is more likely than not that abuse or neglect occurred.
  • Ruled out. Staff determines that it is reasonable to conclude that the abuse or neglect has not occurred based on the information available.
  • Unable to Complete. The investigation cannot be concluded. This is usually because the family could not be located to begin the investigation; or the family was contacted but later moved and could not be located to complete the investigation; or the family refused to cooperate with the investigation. DFPS policy outlines several actions that the investigator must complete to make this disposition.
  • Unable to determine. DFPS concludes that none of the dispositions above are appropriate.
  • Administrative closure. DFPS intervention is unwarranted based on information that comes to light after the case is assigned for investigation.

Removing Children from a Home

If the investigator concludes the children are unsafe because of significant safety threats and risk factors or if the family appears unable or unwilling to use family and community resources to ensure the safety of the child or children, action is taken. DFPS can file a petition to initiate civil court action to protect the victim. These court actions could include removing children from the home and possibly ending parental rights.

If your child has been removed from your home by CPS a hearing will be set in Court within 14 days of the removal. The purpose of the initial hearing is to determine whether or not the child will remain in foster care or will return to your custody.

Your Rights in a Child Protective Case

You have the right to an attorney . If you cannot afford an attorney and receive government assistance for food or housing, you would likely qualify to have an attorney appointed to you.

You have the right to be informed about the case. CPS must tell you the nature of their investigation into you, your family, and your home. You must be given notice, explaining the reasons your child was taken into their temporary custody, as well as a description of your rights.

A court makes the ultimate decision. Whether your child will be able to return to living in your home will be decided by a judge in court. Your cooperation and diligence in improving your life are crucial elements to having your child returned to your home.

Our firm can help defend you against accusations of neglect and abuse. If CPS is threatening to terminate your parental rights, we can help.

Contact us at (281) 810-9760 or by using our online form . We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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