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 mind and if you can communicate with your caseworker about your needs, and do what you are asked to do, your caseworker can have a positive impact on your life!
Working with Other Service Providers
Just like with your CPS caseworker, it is important to build good relationships with these providers. This might include doctors, drug/alcohol counselors, therapists, parent coaches, and possibly others. These people are important to your case and can be asked to testify in court about how you have done working through your service plan and completing all of the tasks the judge ordered you to complete in order to get your children back home.
It is normal to feel that certain providers are more helpful and necessary than others, and you might not like others as much or feel that they were as helpful. It is important to note that whether or not you “like” the provider, you should do everything you can to try and make the relationship work. Many of the services are short-term – only a few classes or a few hours. If this is the case for you, try to keep a good attitude. Take notes, prepare for class, ask questions, and listen for 2 or 3 key tips as takeaways. The more interested you are the less of a “task” it will be appear to be.
However, it is possible that even with a good attitude you simple cannot work with the person. In this case you can try talking to your provider to see if he or she can refer you to someone you may like, or talk to your CPS caseworker to see if they can change you to another provider. Finally, be respectful but also be honest about what it is you are looking for and what you think would be most helpful. If that fails, speak to your lawyer about asking the judge to order your caseworker to find a different provider.
Tips for Building Good Communication
- Make sure you have the person’s phone number, email address, office address, and his or her supervisor’s phone number written down where you can always find it
- When leaving a voicemail, make sure to leave a message with your name (and your child’s name, if that’s needed), your phone number, what days and times you are free to talk, and why you are calling
- Keep a record of every time you call and leave a message, along with times and dates (It shows the court you are being responsible and working hard to complete your service plan).
- Ask your provider what times and days of the week work best to reach them
- If you have called several times and not heard back, call your CPS caseworker (if you are trying to reach a supervisor) or your CPS caseworker’s supervisor if you are trying to reach your CPS caseworker
- If you cannot get ANYONE to return your calls, then inform your lawyer and ask your lawyer to call
- Remember, filing a complaint is NOT your first step!
Remember: Always be Respectful, Honest, and Keep all appointments! (This includes showing up for visitation with your child).
Before you make a complaint you should try to work it out with your caseworker. Filing a complaint will not necessarily get you a new caseworker or get your child back right away, and if the complaint is without good reason it will probably make your situation worse. However, if you are not receiving the help you need or are being treated disrespectfully, you have the right to make a complaint. Tell your lawyer of your reasons for wanting to file a complaint and he or she will help you.
For Complaints about CPS rules or caseworker conduct
Office of Consumer Affairs
When: When a CPS worker has acted inappropriately or unfairly.
How: Contact the office at 1-800-720-7777 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. When making a complaint, include the names of the people involved, the CPS caseworker involved, the name of anyone else you have made the complaint to, and your contact information.
What: This office will review your complaint and make recommendations.
Office of the Ombudsman
When: When a CPS worker has failed to follow CPS policies and procedures, or broken some other rule.
How: Call 1-877-787-8999 (for the deaf or hearing impaired, call 711 or 1-800-735-2989) or make a complaint in writing to:
HHSC 000 MC H-700
PO Box 13247
Austin, Texas 75711-3247
Include your name, phone number, your complaint, and your case number.
What: This office is a neutral third party, which will review your case and make recommendations on how case actions might be changed.