CPS

27 posts

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 10: The Parent Attorney

The CPS process is quite confusing, and it can be very tough to navigate on your own. A lawyer can help with this process and explain things to you so that you can make the proper decisions for yourself and your family. This section mostly will deal with expections in regards to what a lawyer can and can’t do for you, as well as ways to help your lawyer in order to maximize the chances of success with your case. How do I get a lawyer? Obviously finding one on your own and retaining them is the first method of obtaining representation, but that often can be prohibitively expensive for many people. The advantages to this are the ability to find an attorney of your own choosing, rather than someone chosen for you, as well as the ability to obtain representation significantly earlier in the process. In my opinion, this is the most significant thing, as there are a huge number of cases where attorneys are hired WAY too late, in a position where various rights have already been waived, and the CPS train has already left the station. The other avenue is to have an attorney appointed to you. […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resoure Guide Part 9: Family Group Decision-Making

Studies have shown that parents who work  with a support network made up of family, friends, neighbors, community members and teachers are more likely to have their cases successfully dismissed while the children in these cases are less likely to end up in foster care long term.   Family Group Meetings are organized by CPS representatives and can take place either before or after the removal of your children.  You should invite anybody who you think can help you or your kids.  The gathering will also be attended by representatives for the children, the other parent and representatives for the other parent.  Be prepared for a long day as family group meetings can take four or more hours.   The product of the meeting is a Family Plan of Service, or a Service Plan.  Your service plan is a structured plan that will summarize the ways you and your support network plan on addressing the safety concerns of CPS.  It is important that each party involved feels comfortable following through with promises they make.  Parties must hold themselves and each other accountable.  For example, if you are not supposed to visit your kids at school it is important that those […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 8: Court Process and Planning for a Permanent Process

If your children have been removed and a judge has determined CPS has enough evidence to maintain temporary custody, the next year of your life will be filled with a series of meetings and court hearings.     Several times throughout the case you and your attorney will meet with CPS for Permanency Planning Team Meetings.  These gatherings are attended by representatives for your child and the CPS caseworker.  Your kids might also be there if they are older than 7.  This should be a cooperative experience between all parties involved.  The department will have a list of services they believe will help you become a better parent.  Suggested services should address the issues that led to the removal of your children in the first place.  Be ready to discuss the Service Plan  and check that you understand what is being asked of you.  Also be prepared to talk about permanent living situation.  While most parents ask for their children to return home, other choices include a relative, family friend, adoption and foster care.  In conjunction with the primary Permanency Plan an additional backup plan will be in the works in the event your children are not able to return home […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 7: Removal

The removal phase is one where there start to become an increasing number of legal protections in place. The most important thing in this phase is to be careful not to consent to things that you do not mean to, and end up waiving your rights before you even know they exist. At the point where CPS wants to physically remove a child, they either need a court order or parental permission, and too often I see situations where it is the latter even though the parents simply felt pressured into agreeing. That said, on the flip side, I also see a lot of cases where parents do not agree despite an overwhelming amount of evidence, and end up on the witness stand forced into making statements under oath that they later come to regret. The discussion of whether or not removal is legally appropriate is a nuanced one, and is virtually impossible to have without your attorney. Ultimately, it is your decision as to what to decide, but the decision is one of the most important ones in the life of a CPS case, and it is vital to make it with as much information and good advice as […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 6: The CPS Investigation

This section is an important one to pay attention to for anyone who is going through the investigation stages of a CPS process (or hopefully even before it). There are quite a lot of misconceptions about this process, but one main point is the importance of giving the investigators enough information to rule out allegations, while not oversharing and getting into trouble. Investigators are very good at getting information out of parents, either by making threats, or by making it seem like they are on your side. The important thing to remember is that everything you say and do can and will be used against you, just like in a criminal process. That said, if you choose to stonewall them completely, they can and will ask the court to order you to comply with their investigation. The exact amount of information to turn over is very fact specific, and it is important to talk to your lawyer about it, but if a CPS investigator is truly concerned about something going on, they are very few ways to hide that information from them. Remember, that if an investigator is talking to your family, they have already received a referral from somewhere, […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 5: Confidentiality

There are a couple different levels of confidentiality as far as a CPS case goes. The first of which is information that CPS is not entitled to by default. This largely pertains to things like medical records that are protected via federal law. Sometimes, it may be worthwhile to fight over the confidentiality of such information, but my experience in CPS leads me to believe that judges tend to order you to turn it over regardless, and also that any withholding of this type of information automatically reflects poorly on the person withholding it, even if their reasoning is simply a privacy issue. One related point is confidential information regarding people who are not parties to the lawsuit, but may be around the children. I think it is much more worthwhile to maintain confidentiality of this information, as it is near impossible for CPS to get access to it in other ways, and it is easy enough to pass the “blame” off on the other parties themselves citing privacy reasons. The second level of confidentiality, and in my opinion the most important one, is information that is known to all the parties of the case, but that is confidential from […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 4: Who are all the people working on my case?

The sheer number of people involved in a CPS case can be daunting at best. Often, it seems like parties who may be aligned as filling the same role, but in reality they serve distinct purposes and it is important to tailor your behavior regarding each of the parties differently. Rather than go over each of the specific people directly (which the guide does a great job of already), there are some general categories that are good to be aware of. The first category is people who are employees of CPS. This includes investigators, caseworkers, kinship workers, supervisors, etc. All of these people may have slightly different roles, but realistically when it comes down to it, they will act in lockstep according to the company line. You may occasionally get some dissent from a worker here or there, but realistically they act based on edicts that come from higher in the bureaucracy. They act in what they believe is in the best interest of the children, but often have their hands tied by policies. They also are responsible for reunifying children with their families, and setting up services to achieve that goal. The second category is the guardian ad litem. […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

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

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 […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 2: How Do I Help Myself and My Family?

One of the main points of this section that I will highlight is self-advocacy. It is vitally important to not be passive in this process, and the main way of being active is simply by COMMUNICATING. Talk with your attorney if you have one, talk to your caseworker, talk to the guardian for the children. The more involved you are in this process the harder it is to ignore you, and for your case to slip through the cracks. This doesn’t mean to be angry or aggressive with these people, as that can definitely backfire, but making polite and frequent inquiries can go a LONG way. If you do feel yourself getting angry (sometimes this is intentionally incited by caseworkers to see how you react), try your best to stay calm, and if you can’t, find a way to politely exit the conversation. If you need to rant to someone, choose your attorney, as in that case the information remains confidential as opposed to being part of a CPS case file. http://www.austintexaslegal.com/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Part-2-from-Child-Protective-Services-Parent-Resource-Guide-2015.pdf For the full text of this guide, click here.

CPS Parent Resource Guide

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 1: Introduction

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://www.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 […]