When you are involved in a Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) case, you may feel overwhelmed, as interaction with CPS may not be very frequent or straightforward, and you may even be misled. It is painful to have to deal with this anxiety, especially while your child has been taken out of your home and placed with a stranger.
Although you face a very difficult circumstance, it is vital to stay strong and maintain hope to represent your interests in the best way. Finding a reputable attorney to represent you is one of the best ways to ensure that you maintain peace of mind and improve your chances of CPS returning your children to you. Your attorney can stand up for you against CPS caseworkers and ease the burden you feel as you fight for your family. In addition to hiring a lawyer to fight for your rights, there are certain things you must do to improve your chances of winning your case.
A CPS investigation typically starts when a report is made regarding suspected neglect or child abuse. Anyone can file a report, but certain individuals, such as teachers and doctors, must report any possible cases under legal duty. At times, a teacher may hear a child talking about abuse, or a doctor may notice suspicious injuries that require them to file a report. Unfortunately, the things children say are sometimes misunderstood, resulting in false allegations.
When a report is filed, the CPS qualifies the case into one of the following three categories:
CPS investigations are designed to determine whether a child has experienced neglect or abuse and the likelihood of the child facing long-term or immediate danger at home. When the investigator finds evidence of abuse, they follow by deciding whether the parents are willing and able to keep their children safe. If they decide that the child cannot live in their home safely, they may put the child into foster care. The CPS typically reports these findings to the attorney general, who decides whether criminal charges should be filed against the parents.
When you are dealing with CPS investigators, you should behave as though they are police officers. Any statements you make during the investigation could be used against you in court if criminal charges are filed. You have the right to invoke your fifth amendment right to remain silent if you are dealing with a CPS investigator, just as you would be able to during a police interview.
This is important to understand because parents often talk with investigators with good intentions, only to have their words misinterpreted. They can wind up in a final report that recommends removing their children from their home. Things that you may think are insignificant, like mentioning that you have lost your temper before or that you drink alcohol, can be worded in a way that harms your case when put into the investigator’s report. If you choose to decline to answer an investigator’s questions, do so tactfully and politely.
A CPS investigator may request to come into your home, and if they do so, you should refuse their request. No matter how helpful and friendly the investigator seems to be, always remember that their goal of visiting you is to gather evidence that can be used against you in their report. Just as you would be protected by the fourth amendment in a police investigation, you are protected from unreasonable search and seizure in a CPS investigation. The only way an investigator may enter your home without a warrant is if you give your consent or there is an emergency.
To avoid the possibility of a CPS investigator entering your home by claiming that there was an emergency, you should bring your children to the door if an investigator pays a visit so that they can see there is no immediate danger to the children. You should always be polite to the investigator and simply inform them that you intend to exercise your right to remain silent.
Maintain Contact With Caseworkers
It is often difficult to reach caseworkers or get them to return messages. They are often overworked and underpaid, so returning calls and messages may fall by the wayside. Although you may feel resentful, you must be willing to work with your caseworker and follow the necessary steps to close your case. You should also get the name of your caseworker’s supervisor in case there are any issues you need to address with them.
Follow Court Orders
In many CPS cases, the parent is ordered to attend therapy or counseling for several reasons, such as anger management or addiction. Take it upon yourself to find the correct type of counseling to meet the requirements, and keep your caseworker updated on your progress. A judge may also rule that you should or should not engage in certain activities. No matter how you feel about the ruling, always be sure to follow the judge’s orders. This will show that you are participating in the necessary process to get your child back.
Look Out for Your Child
If your child is taken from your home, you should try to make the experience as comfortable for them as possible. Be sure to inform the caseworker of any special circumstances, educational needs, or medical information. Your child will not be able to take much with them, but try to send items with them like clothes and toys that will remind them of home. If you can speak with the child’s caretaker, be sure to inform them of your child’s schedule and participation in extracurricular activities.
Trust the Legal Professionals
If you are under investigation by the CPS in Texas, it is vital to have a skilled attorney representing you. The legal team at The Law Office of William A. Walsh has the expertise to handle your CPS case and help you retain custody of your child. Call us today at (682) 500-1077 to find out how we can help.