A CPS safety plan is the basis for reacclimating you and your children 2 visits together. Typically, after your child is removed from your home in a CPS case the agency will work with you and your family to ensure that goals are being met in terms of either placing your child back in your home permanently or in placing your child elsewhere. Most of the time reunification with you in your home is the stated goal at the outset of a CPS case. That goal may change as circumstances develop but for the most part, Visitation opportunities will be geared towards allowing your child to spend as much time with you as possible and as safety in circumstances permits. 

For the most part, the agency will be focused on allowing you to be able to enjoy Visitation time with your child. Since you are your child’s primary caregiver, at least until the beginning of your CPS case, the agency will want to give you every opportunity to continue your relationship and determine whether or not reunification is a viable path. However, additional adults in your child’s life who have played a major role in their development may also be included in different Visitation planning. Adults such as your child’s other parent, adult siblings, grandparents, and extended family may also be included in this type of planning if the relationship that your child has with the adult is significant. 

Any adult with whom your child has a significant relationship could be harmful to your child if that relationship were lost. As a result, you should do your best to ensure that any adult like this is mentioned in your discussions with CPS. You would not want to leave this type of person out of the loop and instead find your child suffering from the loss of another relationship as a result of a CPS case. When your child is placed into CPS care or foster care then the number of outside folks that have access to your child will be limited period as a result, you should specify to CPS early in the case which persons in your child’s life need to be able to be kept in the loop and offered Visitation opportunities. 

CPS will make their determination based on what they believe to be the best interests of your child in terms of whether or not to allow for a planned four visits with these additional adults. Keep in mind that CPS is acting as temporary primary conservator of your child during a case once your child is removed from your household. As a result, this puts them in a position where they have the final say-so on matters about who has access to your child. This may take some getting used to but, again, hopefully, it is only temporarily that this is the case. 

What role could your child’s absentee parent play in this process? 

So far in today’s blog post, we have been discussing the role of family members who have played an active and involved part in your child’s life. However, even though your child may have a parent who is not a part of their life on an everyday basis, that person still has and they go rights to be able to weigh in on the life of your child. This is true whether or not you all have ever been to court or ever had those rights established in a court order. 

CPS will aim to keep involved in absentee parents within the case even over and above your objections. The fact is that if your child has been removed from your home then that absentee parent will likely be allowed to house your child temporarily. You can expect a CPS caseworker to reach out to the absentee parent to become familiar with his or her station in life and to involve him or her in the creation of parenting plans and Visitation orders. 

The decisions regarding warrior near child will be living on a full-time basis in addition to whether or not to be placing him or her into foster care will be considered and discussed with this person. CPS will want to involve this person if for no other reason than he or she will be better situated to make decisions for your child than the agency. This may be the last thing you want to see happen as far as with your child during a stressful time like a CPS case. I can imagine that you would not be thrilled at the idea of an absentee parent of your child gaining a foothold in their life when you are in a vulnerable position. 

Will CPS make an effort to place your child with their sibling if removed from your home?

You should assume that your children will be placed together once they are removed from your home. There would have to be a very well thought out and profound reason why they would be placed in separate households independent of one another. Once it is determined that placement together is not possible the agency will work to do everything possible to reunite them as quickly as they can give the circumstances of your case. It may be that the children have special needs that would overwhelm one foster family if taking the children together. Or, your children may have a history of being physically violent with one another that would make placement together difficult. 

Whatever the circumstances are, CPS will discuss with you what the options they are considering are and will ask for your involvement when it comes to I’m making those decisions. Your involvement is crucial because you will be in a better position to make decisions than will CPS. Often time is the case that they appear children are not placed together that Visitation would occur at the same time as your Visitation with the children. Even if your Visitation periods are being paused or have not yet started that does not mean that sibling Visitation can and will not occur. 

There will even be a sibling Visitation plan included in your Visitation plan. Your relatives may be called to help assist with Visitation including supervising visits when you are not able to be present. It may even be permissible for your children to attend family gatherings and events without their foster family or without CPS personnel being present. For this to be true CPS would need to have information about trustworthy relatives who could help facilitate these types of events. 

At one point can your Visitation plan be updated? 

As you may have assumed, at various points during your Texas CPS case, circumstances may evolve and change to the point where prior agreements and orders regarding Visitation may no longer work for your family. As a result, what you had in place for Visitation may stop being in the best interest of the children at some point during your case. It will be a reasonable question to ask, then, what can be done to change your orders if such an event were to take place. 

A Visitation plan can and should be reviewed by yourself and CPS every month to determine what sort of progress is being made in accomplishing the goals of the family-based social services being provided to you or in determining what is left for you to accomplish before your next court hearing. The key parts to Visitation during a CPS case are whether supervision is required, the degree to which supervision is required, where the Visitation sessions occur as well as who will be present for each session. 

All persons involved and Visitation including you, your Co-parent, family members, are their adults in your child’s life, Visitation monitors, therapists, foster parents and other people involved in the Visitation process must all be able to provide their input as to whether or not changes are justified in the Visitation plan. the key to the entire discussion will be whether or not you have been making progress towards achieving the goals outlined in the various parenting plans and safety plans created by the agency with your input. 

Whatever the circumstances of your case are it would be advisable for the location of these Visitation sessions to be the most homelike setting possible that can also ensure the safety of your child. Well, Visitation with your child in your home likely is not possible until the end of your case CPS will aim to allow for Visitation either on-site at a CPS office in a comfortable environment, in the home of your foster family, or even at the home of a close friend or relative of yours. The more collaboration that is received when it comes to this subject the better off your child will be. 

How often will you be able to see your child during a CPS case?

The main concern that you will likely have during a CPS case will be losing the bond you share with your child. Depending on the age of your child it may be easier said than done when it comes to maintaining that bond. As a result, the state will want to work with you to take into consideration the age and developmental needs of your child when determining how frequently you will be able to visit with him or her. 

For example, if your child is very young then the need for you to be physically near your child is essential for him or her to maintain their physical and emotional bond with you. The caseworker associated with your child will do what it takes to make sure that you and any other parent who shows a close bond to your child can come into frequent contact with you or any of those adults. So much of your child’s development depends upon their being able to interact with adults like this. Anyone who is raised children can tell you that children of this age 10/2 or choir greater contact with their parents than at other ages. You could expect to be able to visit with a child of this age two or three times per week. 

Once your child reaches school-aged then both you and the CPS caseworker will be able to discuss with your child the significance of the ongoing CPS case and how all parties are working to complete the case one way or the other. Your children will likely be curious as to what their future looks like in terms of being able to be reunited with you in your home. A benefit to having older children is that they will likely be able to use the phone, computer, and other forms of technology to contact you frequently even when they cannot be with you in person. 

Teenage children will likely have more activities ongoing than younger children but also may present with additional challenges when it comes to being able to determine what sort of Visitation plans are possible or in their best interest. Teenagers can even come to resent parents or CPS caseworkers who otherwise are doing whatever they can to help ease any transitions that are a part of a CPS case. While your child attempts to discover who he or she is as a teenager they will be at a disadvantage in that they are separated from their parents for some time. Therefore, it will be essential for you to make sure that your child has regular and frequent contact not only with you but with their family as a whole. 

What to do if your child is suffering as a result of issues surrounding Visitation? 

Unfortunately, the stresses of a CPS case can be enough to cause your child a great amount of distress. Your CPS caseworker will talk to your child in between Visitation sessions to see what your child is feeling and to determine whether or not Visitation sessions need to be changed or paused. Depending on the age and maturity of your child he or she will be asked what their thoughts are and how Visitation sessions can improve. The CPS caseworker will communicate updates to both your child’s foster family and to you. 

The circumstances that are leading to your child’s distress are likely unique to your case. Their removal from your home may have been traumatic or the events that led to their removal may have been traumatic. CPS will facilitate their therapy and counseling sessions with your child and a professional counselor as frequently as possible and your child’s foster family will have been trained to identify signs of distress. 

On the other hand, your child may be feeling distressed because he or she has not been able to spend as much time with you as they would like. Again, the age and maturity level of your child will play a big role in this discussion. As a result, greater time may be allotted to you and your family for Visitation if it is in the best interest of your child. 

How to best approach a CPS case 

The bottom line is that you cannot be expected to know how you will feel while involved in a CPS case before the case begins. As a result, it is important to give yourself a little bit of grace and time to figure out what support you will need from those around you. It is not recommended for you to move forward with the case without having a support system in place back can help you when the going gets rough.

On the one hand, I would recommend having an experienced family law attorney to make sure that you are staying on top of your goals for the case in terms of meeting any obligations of your family-based social services, parenting plan, or safety plan. The more readily you achieve goals and complete objectives the more readily your child can be returned home to you and your case can come to a close. Having an attorney also means being able to better stay in communication with your CPS caseworker and be prepared for any court appearances that become necessary in your case. 

Finally, you must have a support system in terms of your family and close friends who can be there for you during your CPS case. These folks may fill an informal role in your life by being advisors and sounding boards for the daily stresses of a CPS case. On the other hand, they may also fill formal roles within the case in that they may be able to act as supervisors during supervised Visitation or as potential places where your child can reside during a case. Either way, it is always a good idea for you to be able to have people that you trust who know your family and can provide you context and hope throughout a CPS case. 

Questions about the material contained inside this blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained inside this blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about the circumstances over your family and how they may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.