CPS


CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover 1
The Texas Children’s Commission recently put out a great guide for parents navigating the CPS system, and I thought it might be beneficial for some parents to do a multi-part series revolving around it and how to use it to its fullest potential, as it is quite lengthy and has a lot of information. I am going to attempt to follow the organization of the guide itself, and begin each post with the first hand material and then go into any additional notes I have afterwards in the hope that more people read and see this guide that clearly has had a ton of work put into it by a huge amount of people. A link to the full text will be at both the beginning and end of each part and I encourage everyone to print out a copy for themselves. http://austintexaslegal.com/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Pages-from-Child-Protective-Services-Parent-Resource-Guide-2015-Introduction.pdf The main thing I want to draw attention to in this section is the last page. Ultimately, taking care of yourself is often the best and first step in dealing with CPS, though it is also something that people neglect the most. Even more important is the PERCEPTION that people have of you as a result of taking care of yourself. If you can present yourself well, people inevitably will have a much better opinion of you, which can make the entire process much more painless. ANY involvement with CPS is a traumatic time for a family, and it is important to have sources of support to lean on to decrease the chances of having a breakdown in front of a CPS worker (which gets documented). If you can stay positive and composed during the process, the people involved will know that you can stay positive and composed in other stressful circumstances as well, which can only […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 1: Introduction


parental rights termination
Divorce hearings are complicated. Exchanges can lead to some unpleasant revelations. Some divorces, however, arise from a mutual agreement that the marriage is not working out. These cases are usually concerned with ironing out details.  However, there are cases where one party hurls a serious accusation towards the other party. These cases can lead to serious disputes with tough consequences like the termination of parental rights.  Negligence or Abandonment The main cause of terminating parental rights fall under the category of neglect and abandonment. The court has to find clear and compelling evidence that the parent in question has voluntarily abandoned the child.  There are conditions governing this situation. If the parent left the child without intent to return, the court will terminate parental rights. The same will apply if the parent left the child for 3 months without child support. However, If the child is left to the other parent, there is no negligence or abandonment. The rule only applies if the child is left with someone other than a parent. The court could also take action if the parent leaves the child in danger. This would lead the court to question the parent’s judgment. Abuse or Criminal Behavior The following crimes lead to the termination of parental rights: Serious Injury inflicted on a Minor Manslaughter Murder Assault, Physical or Sexual Indecency with a Child Trafficking or Prostitution Promoting or Possessing Child Pornography Inadequate Evidence The state of Texas respects the parental rights of the child and this is why they have to establish the parameters of terminating these rights.  There are many cases wherein termination is being petitioned due to failure to provide child support. The court does not consider this in itself as a reason unless it is under the prevailing conditions stated above.  The court requires evidence […]

Terminating Parental Rights in Texas



CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover 1
One of the first mistakes I see people make at the beginning of this process is to immediately try to figure out “who reported me”. The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter, and it often can do you a disservice to focus on that issue rather than the more relevant issues of “what should I do next”. The other thing I would add to this section is not to get bogged down in the language that is used, as the CPS definitions of words is often different from legal definitions, which is different still from normal usage. The one word that does get used consistently across all the categories for the most part, though, is “safety”. Ultimately, the reasons CPS gets involved boil down to safety, and your arguments should reflect that. Sometimes CPS themselves get distracted from their ultimate goal as a result of bureaucracy, and a very effective tactic is utilizing the word “safety” against them. It is their burden to show how each of their actions furthers the goal of keeping your children safe, and it is the type of question that when asked non-aggressively, can actually get them to think twice sometimes. Worst case scenario, even if you can’t convince CPS of your position, a judge will want to hear about your plans to keep the child safe. If the only options are “maintain the status quo” or “CPS’s plan”, often a judge can feel forced to go with CPS’s plan simply because they believe the status quo is unsafe. However, if you can come up with an alternative plan, it shows that you are putting your children first, are willing to make compromises, and understand the seriousness of the situation. That can give a judge a reason to give a second chance where […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 3: How Did I Get Here?


CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover
Maintaining A Good Relationship With Your Caseworker   CPS (child protective services) caseworkers are extremely valuable people to your case. They are hardworking, caring people, with only the best interests of your child in mind, and they have chosen their job for a reason.  In fact, your CPS caseworker is probably the most important person on your case, because he or she is the person you will work with the most to coordinate any services you are ordered to get. This includes and is not limited to: arranging visits with your child, talking to a therapist or parenting coach about how you are doing with your services, and he or she will report to the judge how you are doing with your services, your visits, housing, employment, etc. In the alternative, he or she will also report to the judge when you are doing or NOT doing well with your services, visiting with your children, seeking and finding housing, working at a job for money so you can take care of your kids. If your case goes to trial, your caseworker will be the person telling the judge why your parental rights should be terminated. Additionally, while keeping a good repertoire with your CPS worker, it is important to remember that that they too are extremely busy people. It is normal to get aggravated or feel slightly ignored if the CPS worker does not respond to your calls right away or remember every detail of your case as well as you think they should. However, caseworkers work with many families, have lots of cases just like yours that they must pay attention to, and like everyone, caseworkers sometimes make mistakes. CPS workers care a lot about the job they do and have chosen this job for a reason! Keep this […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 11: Working With CPS



CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover
The right to visit with your child will be one of the most important rights you have during a CPS (child protective services) case, and it is important to take advantage of the visitation that is allowed/ordered both from a bonding perspective as well as a legal one. Under current Texas law, CPS must arrange for you to visit with your child no later than five days after CPS is granted TMC. CPS should work with you to create a visitation schedule. This right can be limited if the court or the DFPS does not think it is in your child’s best interest to visit with you or if allowing visitation conflicts with another court order, such as a protective order. Visitation is important so your child can see you and it will also 1) help you become a better parent, and 2) Visitation can show CPS that you are working your services and making the changes needed to help you become a safer parent!   Supervised vs. Unsupervised Visitation   A judge can order visitation to be either supervised or unsupervised and order other limits as needed. For example, the judge may order where the visits will occur, who will supervise, or who may be there during them. The rules about visitation should always take into account what is in your child’s best interest at that time.   Supervised: someone will be watching while you and your child spend time together. CPS is present because they want to make sure the child is safe during the visit. In most cases, your first visits will be supervised. If visitation goes well for a long time and you have shown that your child can be with you safely, the judge or CPS may decide that visits can be unsupervised.   Unsupervised: […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 12: Visitation


Texas Department of Family and Protective Services 2
I thought I would start off this blog with a bit of information on what types of things to watch out for that can get DFPS (Department of Family and Protective Services, the umbrella organization for CPS) involved in your life.  Most of the time, when people are looking up or contacting lawyers about their dealings with CPS they are usually very confused.  In most cases, parents feel they have done nothing wrong (and in fact, a reasonable person might even feel they have done nothing wrong) and yet, they are being “investigated” by the government for how they parent their children.  I certainly sympathize with this, as most people really have no easy way of finding out information about the process.  My goal is to hopefully bring a bit more transparency into the area, and hopefully be able to help some families avoid a lot of hassle later. First of all, it is important to know a little bit about the intake procedures that CPS uses.  CPS gets a MASSIVE (and I may even go into HOW massive at a later date) amount of calls into their system of possible child “abuse and neglect” which covers a broad range of categories.  They then have to classify the report and determine whether to investigate or not.  The vast majority of calls into their intake system are not such types of things that need to be investigated.  The criteria are somewhat specific, but it is mostly a calculation on the veracity of the report, as well as potential risk to the child. Some of the areas that MAY cause CPS to investigate you are a bit of a surprise to some parents, so I feel its important to mention them here.  One of the more common calls to the intake centers is parents leaving small children […]

How to Avoid Problems with CPS (DFPS)



CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover
Teenage Parents and Former Foster Youth Parents   Teenage parents, those under the age of 18, can become involved with CPS as a child, as a parent, or both. For children under the age of 18, CPS becomes involved if the child is being abused or neglected, and as a parent CPS becomes involved if the parent are neglecting or abusing their child.   Just like any parent, teenage parents are responsible for keeping their child safe. Everything in the guide applies to teenagers as parents, and teenage parents can have their children removed. Because you are a teenager, your lawyer can ask for special kinds of help. For example, you might be able to get help finishing school, home services so that you can care for your baby while working your Service Plan, or one-on-one help from people who are trained to work with teenagers. Other help might include things like getting your driver’s license, opening a bank account, getting transportation to visit with your child, or finding housing.   In the end, even though you are a parent, you are also still a legally a child, which means you may need more or different kinds of services than older parents.   Finally, if you are a teenager who is involved with CPS, as a parent AND as a child, you can ask CPS for birth control, if that is something you want or need. This is your right; you do not need the consent of your parents, your caseworker, your foster parents, or anyone else. If your CPS worker does not assist you in acquiring birth control, then you can talk to your doctor.   If your parent is hurting you or your child, you need to get help. You should immediately call the police. You can also […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 13: Special Topics


family team meetings
Child Protective Services Program The Child Protective Services Program is one of the programs of the government which aims to look after children who are victims of abuse and neglect. The personnel of this program handles the investigation of reports pertaining to any alleged abuse or negligence to a child. They are the ones responsible for knowing the validity of these allegations. And if needed, this branch of your social services department can intervene in some family matters of the child. They may get rid of the abuser or take the child away from home. These procedures, however, must follow the laws of the state where the child resides.  Temporary Custody of Child This social program, although aiming for the safety and security of the child, might still get stressful for family members and, sometimes, for the child. As a last resort, the CPS personnel may take temporary custody of your child. During this period, problems may arise among family members. It will be difficult for the child, the parents, or the other siblings. This could lead to a bigger family crisis. Experts say it is best to involve the family in Family Team Meetings or in Family Group Conferences. Family Team Meetings These meetings are usually held at the time before the CPS takes your child for temporary custody. Take note that this happens before the filing of the petition of the CPS in court to take custody. All throughout this meeting, the members of your family, who serves as your social support, meet the CPS caseworker. This caseworker is responsible for the custody of your child. The reason for this meeting is to hear out both sides and share helpful insights. It can also address the concerns of the child at a much earlier stage. Family Group Conferences […]

Family Team Meetings and Group Conferences during a CPS Case