CPS (Child Protective Services) CAses
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is a governmental entity that regulates Child Protective Services (CPS).
What CPS does:
- Investigating reports of abuse and neglect of children
- Providing services to children and families in their own homes
- Placing children in foster care
- Providing services to help youth in foster care successfully transition to adulthood
- Helping children get adopted
What your parental rights are:
Some rights are only available if proper procedures are followed. An experienced attorney can help you understand what rights you have at each stage of the process.
- The right to an attorney. In limited circumstances, you may also have the right to a court-appointed attorney.
- The right to respond to allegations against you
- The right to be notified of court dates and to attend hearings
- The right to talk to your CPS caseworker
What are the phases of a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation?
Regardless of where you are in the process, the experienced attorneys at Anderson Legal Group are prepared to meet with you, explain your options, and help you make a plan.
- Intake: CPS becomes involved when a report of child abuse or neglect is made on the Statewide Intake Hotline (1-800-252-5400). This report is then reviewed by an intake worker. If certain criteria are met, the report will be sent to local investigators.
- Investigation: The investigation stage typically begins with the investigator interviewing the child at school. This means that the investigation has often already begun before the parents are aware of the intake being made. It can be quite stressful to learn that a stranger met with your child at school. It is important to take a deep breath and not question your child about the conversation. The best course of action after learning that you are being investigated by Child Protective Services is to call an attorney with experience to advise you. An attorney will help you determine what is in your Department of Family and Protective Services record, and what that means for your family and your case.
- Disposition: After an investigation is complete, CPS will make findings regarding whether or not the alleged abuse or neglect occurred. This is called a “disposition” and is very important. You should receive a letter advising you of the disposition status. It is very important that you keep a copy of this letter. If you disagree with the disposition, you have a limited window to file a dispute as to the disposition, so it is important that you act quickly.
- Family Based Safety Services: Once the disposition is made, CPS may refer your case for voluntary services. This is called Family Based Safety Services (FBSS), which often involve a safety plan. It is important to consult with an attorney with a background in CPS in order to protect your rights and duties while these plans and services are in place.
- Conservatorship / Legal Removal: In some cases, CPS may pursue legal intervention. This is called a “legal removal” and results in the child being placed either in foster care or with an approved family member or family friend. A CPS case can only last for twelve months (or eighteen months in some cases with the Court’s permission) and at the end of the case, CPS may seek to terminate your parental rights of the child. Therefore, it is imperative that you take the process seriously.
- Appeal: the type of appeal available will depend on what stage of the case you are in. If CPS has made a “Reason to believe” (RTB) finding, they have determined there is evidence that abuse or neglect occurred. You have a very limited timeframe to appeal the finding against you. In some cases, a review of your case (called the Administrative Review of Investigation Findings or “ARIF”) will only take place if you request it and meet certain eligibility requirements. You will need to act quickly to preserve your parental rights.