The most stressful day in a parent’s life is when your child is taken by Child Protective Services (CPS) and there is a pending CPS Case. A million thoughts will go through your mind. For example, you will consider how much (if any) information you should provide to CPS. When confronted with this situation, you need the best legal team. You need an attorney that has a background in CPS.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is a governmental entity that regulates Child Protective Services (CPS). The responsibilities of CPS include: 1) Investigating reports of abuse and neglect of children, 2) Providing services to children and families in their own homes, 3) Placing children in foster care, 4) Providing services to help youth in foster care successfully transition to adulthood, and 5) helping children get adopted. Usually, we represent clients as to issues stemming from reports and investigations as to abuse or neglect of children. Sometimes we defend against false reports made by a person trying to obtain a tactical advantage as to child custody litigation. Other times we represent the reporter and their intentions to protect a child. Either way, Anderson Legal Group is ready to assist you.
B. Phases of Child Protective Services Investigations and Litigation
1. 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 the local investigation unit close to where the child resides.
2. 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.
3. 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. 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.
4. 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). It is important to consult with an attorney with a background in CPS in order to protect your rights during this phase of the case.
5. 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. Once the legal process starts, it is highly important to meet with an attorney to review your options and your rights. 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.
C. How We Help You With Your CPS Case
At Anderson Legal Group, we will help you navigate your CPS case from the beginning to the end. We are versed in asserting client’s rights directly to the agency or to the Court. We have the experience dealing with CPS Caseworkers, Investigators and the District Attorney representing the agency. However, you need to contact us quickly because these cases are typically fast-tracked. Contact us for your free consultation so that we can begin working together to have your child returned to your care. We will work to achieve your results, and lower your stress.