Child Protective Services

When Grandparents Are Involved In a CPS Case
  A CPS case can be one of the toughest family law case an attorney has to handle. It can be really heartbreaking, at the same time frustrating. From the point of view of the child, it is alleged that he or she is a victim of neglect or abuse at the hands of people whom he or she needs to trust the most. After all, most CPS cases involve people who are legally tasked to care for the best interests of the alleged victims. On the other hand, from the parents’ point of view, the story can be different. Whether or not true abuse or neglect has been committed, their life will be turned upside down with the CPS case. Their parental rights will also be questioned, and they will be at risk of being permanently separated from their child. It does not matter if neglect or abuse has been committed or not, CPS will conduct a full investigation once they are involved. There can be other sides to the case too. Other family members can also feel the extent of the impact of the CPS case. Some of the most commonly affected other members of the family are the grandparents.   How Grandparents Are Affected By A CPS Case   When the parents are informed by the court that they cannot raise their child, the other family members have to step up. Usually, it is the grandparents who are given the responsibility to protect the child. Unfortunately, this usually happens without any form of support for the grandparents, which can put them in a difficult position. It is quite common even from decades ago for grandparents to the primary caretakers of their grandchildren. When parents have it tough, grandparents usually step up to fill that void. Divorce, change […]

Grandparent Involvement in a CPS Case

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Parents Who Are Undocumented Immigrants   The most important thing to remember is the CPS (child protective services) does not deport parents or their children. CPS is not an immigration agency of the United States. Children and their families are given the benefits, protection, and care of CPS whether or not they are here legally.   However, if a child who is not a U.S. citizen is brought into CPS custody, and is here illegally (undocumented), then the home country will be notified. This is a legal requirement and does not apply only when the child is a citizen of another country AND a U.S. citizen.   Be sure to always give accurate statements, as well as to cooperate with CPS as much as possible, in order to obtain all the benefits and protections that you are rightfully entitled to as an undocumented immigrant with CPS. Finally, remember that the CPS is not an immigration agency and cannot deport you or your child. Parents With Native American/Indian Heritage   The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that protects the best interests of Indian children. If you know or think your child has some Native American/Indian heritage, tell your caseworker or the judge at your first hearing because Indian Child and Custody Proceedings have specific definitions under federal law. The ICWA exists to preserve Native American culture and families.   Once a case has been made, the tribe can choose to get involved in the state court case or ask for the case to be transferred to a tribal court. You always have the right to be notified of any proceeding that involved your child in tribal court. Additionally, you have the right to object to a transfer to tribal court, however, the tribe’s decision to transfer the […]

CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 13: Special Topics Part 3

Prevent Child Abuse
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 […]

Foster Care Lawsuit and the Two Faces of CPS

Child Abuse
A closet with a deadbolt, regular wood paddling, nowhere to urinate, and not much room, fed only rice and beans.  These were the conditions that Child Protective Services and Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputies found seven children in a Richmond, Texas home.  Needless to say, all seven of the special needs children had not been to school, otherwise, the child abuse in Texas would have been caught sooner. In early December, on the 3rd, Paula Sinclair (54) and Allen Richardson (78) were arrested by the Fort Bend County Sheriff.  This came after Child Protective services took a complaint about the adopted children from the home of Sinclair and Richardson.  The charges: aggravated kidnapping and bodily injury to a child.  Both charges are felonies, first and third degree.  The couple is now in the Fort Bend County jail without bond. Allegations of child abuse in Texas had been made and CPS as such launched an inquiry.  This inquiry was to determine if abuse did exist among the seven adopted children in the Sinclair/Richardson home. The children, between the ages of 13 and 16, had been struck with a wooden paddle multiple times, causing injuries that needed treatment.  Each kid was a special-needs child that was not receiving any kind of care they needed. Sinclair was known as “mom” while Richardson was referred to as “Coach”.  Sinclair and Richardson were not married to each other.  In fact, Sinclair has a husband who lived at another location. Since being found, the children have been hospitalized in order to start receiving the care that they need.  They are starting to recover from the child abuse in Texas. For each child, Sinclair was receiving $540 per month, per child.  This has been ongoing from 2003 and 2004 when the children were adopted. The same house […]

Child Abuse in Texas

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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

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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

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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 in your network will report you to CPS if you do.  Knowing that those around you will keep you accountable helps you make better choices.  Better choices are the goal of group decision making and the hope is that your family will function in a safer manner without further CPS intervention in the future.   In addition to accountability actions between you and your network, your Service Plan will also include a list of services that CPS needs you to complete to address the agency’s safety concerns.  Some common required services include drug and alcohol treatment, mental health evaluations, parenting […]

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

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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 or a preferred alternative placement does not work out.  There are several team meetings during the case.  Use this opportunities to mention any issues you are having.   Throughout your case you and your attorney will also appear in court several times.  At your first court date, called the Adversary, 262 or Show-Cause hearing, the judge will determine if CPS has provided sufficient information to make their case.  The judge usually rules in favor of CPS who will then be given temporary custody.   Your first Status Hearing will take place roughly two months after removal of your children.  By […]

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