Prevent Child Abuse

Foster Care Lawsuit and the Two Faces of CPS

Around the country child protective service agencies are having a hard time.  This includes CPS in Texas.  Case workers in Texas are handling between 21 and 36 children by themselves.  With a number this high, it is beyond the safe level.  Studies have shown the most cases a case worker can handle by themselves is 20.  Such a lack of services is what has led to a recent issue with CPS in Texas.

In an ongoing court case, Texas Child Protective Services are insisting that the shortcomings in the system are not as bad as they have been portrayed.  Advocacy groups say that they are lying, though.  Advocacy groups are attempting to sue the state for a lack of coverage for our most vulnerable population.

The advocacy groups are also arguing that the state is showing two different faces.  In court, the state is insisting that there are not as limited as the public perceives them to be.  Outside of court (the advocacy group claims), and to the public, Texas CPS is accused of stating that they are understaffed and needing finances.

A recent court filing from special masters had suggested major changes to the foster care system for the safety of our children.  CPS/the foster care system rejected these filings.  Their reasoning: it would be too expensive and extensive to implement.  This reasoning has been used to not follow any of the 56 different suggestions that the special masters made.

One of the major contradictions is the fact that in court, DFPS (Department of Family and Protective Services) stated in court that they sometimes have to use office placement as they do not have enough foster parents for their children.  They further elaborated in court that these placements are not harmful to children.  Outside of court, though, the Department has stated that it is unacceptable for children to sleep in the offices.  We all know it should be unacceptable for children to sleep in an office.  They deserve a home, even if it is temporary.

A major object the state had was to the suggestion that their caseworkers handle an average of 14 cases each.  The agency instead says, that with the budget they are provided the lowest they can have per agent is 25.47 children.  Remember above we mentioned that the maximum safe case load was 20.  The state won’t even make an effort to meet that 20 person case load.  In any industry, safety should be a priority to protect both clients and the workers.

The Department has further argued that the suggestions from the special masters were too broad.  They further state that the suggestions are not what is needed to fix the system.

For some background, the special masters were appointed after a federal judge found that the foster care system in Texas was not looking after the best interest of children.  A system that places children in permanent foster care does not look after their best interests and often results in abuse/neglect.

Members of the department of family services have repetitively stated that the findings of the special masters were unsupported and not reliable.

This comes after the Department of Family Services/Child Protective Services in Texas was granted additional funding.  This funding was to increase staffing and to retain staff via offering them raises.

The Department will have a hard time protecting itself when this problem isn’t limited to only their state.  Many states are finding it hard to keep their CPS departments up to par.  We all need to do what is necessary to protect our children.  That even means making changes that a department might find hard.

In order to make these changes, we need to fix a long damaged system.  Some people may stand in the way but there are always ways around them.  If these ways are sought in the best interest of the children than it would be a wise idea to do whatever we can to help these advocacy groups.  The support of these groups is important, for most minors cannot speak out themselves against the broken system.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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