What Should I Do If Child Protective Services in Texas Is Investigating My Family

What Should I Do If Child Protective Services in Texas Is Investigating My Family

Having a Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) investigator knock on your door can be a scary proposition, but understanding the process can help alleviate some of the stress of the situation.

CPS workers are investigatingThe first thing you need to know is that if CPS workers are investigating you it is because someone has reported to CPS that the health and welfare of your child may be in danger. Secondly, know that just because CPS is investigating, does not mean that you have done anything wrong or that you will lose your children. So it is in everyone’s best interest if you remain calm during the investigation process.
Step in a CPS investigation
The three main steps of a CPS investigation are:
• The CPS investigator will interview the children involved;
• The CPS investigator will interview you and tell you about the safety concerns; and
• The CPS investigator will check to see if the people who are accused of abusing/neglecting the child have a criminal history.
It is also likely that the CPS investigator will want to examine the child’s home, and depending on the type of allegations they may also wish to obtain the child’s medical records.

What Can I Do?

First of all you have the right to show the CPS worker that you can keep your children safe. You also have the right to advocate for you children and yourself. Take steps to understand the CPS process. This article is a good start but you can find additional information in the Parent Resource Guide published by The Supreme Court of Texas.
Keep your children safeOffer the names of people that know you and your child well that can affirm that you are not neglectful or abusive to your children. Make sure that the person will be respectful and not cause you more difficulty during the investigation.
Provide the investigator with names of people that have first hand knowledge of the incident in question. If there has been physical harm or there appears to be physical harm to the child provide the names of people saw how the injury occurred. This could be a family member, neighbor, or a doctor that know your child as a certain medical condition.
During this process you should be prepared to answer questions with the CPS worker about your family’s situation. You should also make sure to provide the CPS investigator with any documents they ask for and attend any meetings or court hearings they schedule. Despite this being a highly stressful time in your life, it is important that you remain calm and respectful throughout the process.

Goal of the Investigation

The investigation’s goal is to make sure that your children are safe. If your children have been removed from your home your goal is family reunification. There is no way to predict the outcome of the CPS investigation, however; being cooperative could be beneficial in certain circumstances. In fact, CPS may work with you to ensure that your family develops a safety plan and gets the resources it needs to keep the children in the home safely. Likewise, if the report of abuse or neglect is not justified, the investigation should show this.
Make your home safe for the childrenFinally, if CPS finds that the children are in imminent danger they can remove the children from the home. Generally, CPS will obtain a court order to remove the kids from the home, but they have the legal authority to do so without a court order if they feel the situation is so unsafe to warrant immediate removal. But if this happens, it doesn’t mean that you will lose your children permanently. Rather, what will happen is that the courts will be involved and will review CPS’s decision to remove the children from the home. Throughout this process you can work with CPS and the court to show that you are making the necessary changes to make your home safe for the children.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has published A Parent’s Guide to Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigations. This may provide you with additional information about what the agency is looking for from parents.
If during the course of a CPS investigation you feel that the CPS worker has made a mistake or has done something wrong, first try to resolve the issue with the worker or their supervisor. If this does not resolve the issue, you can file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-720-7777.

Approached by Child Protective Services in Texas?

Keep in mind that you have a right to talk to an attorney at any time, for legal assistance contact the Texas Lawyer Referral Services or call 713-510-7100.Texas Lawyer Referral Logo

 

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