CPS


CPS Parent Resource Guide Cover 1
Part 1 and 2 of this section will handle those particular CPS issues, which include special topics. Special topics are but are not limited to: parents who have special physical or intellectual needs or who live with a mental illness; Fathers, especially fathers who don’t see their children, teenage parents, or parents who are in prison may also have questions specific to their situation. This section includes information to address these more individual issues. A. Parents with Disabilities or Special Needs It is important to be aware of whether you are a parent with a disability or special need because The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to CPS cases. Temporary conditions, such as a broken leg, usually are not covered. Additionally, any condition relating from the abuse of drugs or alcohol is not covered. The ADA defines a disability as a condition that “substantially limits a major life activity.” The ADA does not give a list of all the possible disabilities or special needs. Instead, the law covers “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” If you know (or think) you have a disability or special need, then you need to tell your lawyer so she can tell CPS and the court. Examples of disabilities that may be protected by the ADA are: psychiatric or mental impairments such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, Back or spinal injury, migraine headaches, epilepsy, diabetes, vision and hearing impairments. What Does it Mean for Your Case? It is true that CPS is more likely to get involved with parents with disabilities or special needs since CPS workers must take reasonable steps to make sure that parents understand what is going on in their case. This is especially true for parents with special needs who may require “accommodations.” […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 13: Disability and Inability to Care


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 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?


domestic violence
There are many types and forms of domestic abuse. It may be physical, emotional, legal, financial, or a combination of some or all of these types. Domestic abuse is a criminal pattern of undue coercion, control and power of one person over another in a relationship. It is simply any form of threatening and alarming behaviors against the victim. The behavior of abusers develops through their childhood. They started to think that their ways are normal because they learned it at an early stage of their lives. Therefore, changing the same has a low probability, if not impossible. In reality, abusers continue their destructive behavior, even after divorce. They do harmful acts against any person, including their own children. A lot of fear, pain, and traumatic experiences are some of the results of being in an abusive relationship. The only way out is to cut ties and this is through divorce. However, this must be done carefully. The things below are some of the few things to consider before filing for divorce. Quit couples counseling The counseling will just keep failing and more importantly, it will just provide valuable information to your abuser that he/she can use against you in the future. Do not tell your abuser that you are considering a divorce This may result to a more dangerous behavior on the abuser’s part that will cost you and your children’s safety. Seek help Seek trauma treatment therapy right away with a licensed clinical social worker who is trained in domestic abuse cases Also ask for help from your local domestic abuse center or the National Hotline for domestic abuse by calling from a safe phone line that the abuser cannot trace. If you have children and you fear for their safety as well as yours, call 911 and […]

Things to Do Before Calling it Quits with an Abuser



custody battle
Custody battles can get very bloody sometimes. They are called battles after all. And just like any battle, this kind will really test you and even push you to the limit sometimes. But you have to remember to keep on keeping on as these things go along because you’re not only fighting for your child, you’re also kind of fighting yourself. Going through a custody battle can help you grow and learn more about yourself. Don’t Sell Yourself Short You will have to fight for what you want and deserve in a custody battle. You of all people know how much you want your child to be with you. So, don’t let other people convince you otherwise. Whatever antics they choose to pull off to scare you, do not allow them to back down. Stand your ground and set your boundaries. Do not let them break or breach them. Find the Strength in You As much as there will be people there to help you, they won’t be there all the time. That’s why you’ll also have to learn to find the strength present inside you. It helps build a foundation for who you are. And when you find that foundation and use it to help build yourself up, it’ll be harder for your ex to rattle you and it’ll show them you can’t be pushed around. Don’t Let Them Get in Your Head People may try to break you. This might be especially true if your relationship with your ex was toxic. Don’t let them get in your head and break you. All their lashing out, all the insults, they’re just there to toy with you and throw you off. Don’t let it get to your head. If you do, that’ll only make things harder for you. But they […]

5 Things You Learn from a Custody Battle


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



investigation mgn 2
Occasionally I will get a call from someone who either is in the early stages of a CPS investigation, or is concerned that a report may have been made, about how to avoid CPS involvement. Sometimes, this is a fairly complicated question, but there are definitely some things that can increase your likelihood of being involved with CPS. The first important thing to note is that CPS gets involved based on referrals made by third parties, and many of these referrals are effectively mandatory even if the person referring you doesn’t really think there is anything going on. Injuries to children can often trigger a referral to CPS even if the cause of the injury was something completely benign if the injury itself has signs of being indicative of abuse. Likewise, statements made by children indicating abuse will almost certainly trigger a referral by any school or daycare personnel who hears it, even if they don’t believe it is the case. For the most part, any agency involved with taking care of children likely will take (and should take) a broad view on what things should be reported and leave it up to CPS to figure things out after that. For reference, here are the sources of referrals from the DFPS 2013 fiscal year data book:

Avoiding CPS And What To Do When You Can’t


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. https://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