When Child Protective Services becomes involved in your life, this is a time for you to begin thinking about the future of your relationship with your child. It is possible or even likely that you may have taken for granted some of the day-to-day aspects of your relationship with your child. Many of us appearance can fall into the trap of assuming that we will always have the opportunity to wake up in the morning and have our child be there with us in that house like always. However, I can tell you that in a world of family law issues, this is not always the case for every family; unfortunately, if CPS is a part of your life due to the opening of an investigation that you may find yourself having to battle against allegations that are untrue or issues that could threaten your relationship with your child.
When CPS opens an investigation into your family, it is done for various reasons related to allegations made regarding potential abuse or neglect of your child. These sorts of allegations can range from extremely credible to completely off base and fabricated. However, just the same CPS will investigate these allegations if there is any degree of credibility or evidence to substantiate them. This means that if an allegation is made against you or a member of your household, then you need to be prepared to participate and offend yourself in an investigation.
Many CPS investigations end up going nowhere. This means that CPS will look into an alleged event of abuse or neglect of your child and then determine that insufficient evidence exists to begin an investigation or that, after an investigation is commenced, there is no evidence or insufficient evidence to continue with the case. While I would never say that any circumstance regarding CPS in your family is ideal, I believe this would be the ideal scenario for you and the family. CPS can leave your life, at least for the time being, and allow your family to return to some degree of normalcy.
However, it is also possible that the state agency determines credibility to the allegation of abuse or neglect made against you or a member of your household. In this situation, there can be long-lasting impacts, and the presence of CPS will remain in your family for some time until a determination is made at both the state agency level and in the courts. Meanwhile, you can be left wondering how you and your family fit into the equation and what, if anything, you can do to protect your family and see to it that your child remains safe.
One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive regarding CPS investigations is what happens if the agency attempts to remove your child from your home. This can be an extremely and intimidating experience for many families. From having worked with many families who have found themselves in this unfortunate position, I can tell you that it is normal to feel powerless and at the mercy of the state. Even when the situation is not as dire as you may think, that could be a little consolation to having your family completely altered due to the possibility that your child has been neglected or abused either by you or a member of your household.
Because so much of a CPS case occurs behind the scenes, this can be an especially troubling situation for families like yours to find themselves in. At least in a divorce or child custody case, you can be a part of the process from beginning to end. On the other hand, a CPS case follows the processes that Texas and the legislature approved for Child Protective Services in the Family and Protective Services department. As a result, certain elements of your case R were handled without your immediate input. This does not mean that you will have no say so in your case. However, what it does mean is that you need to be aware of your case’s likely circumstances before the case begins.
Probably the most disheartening and intimidating portion of a CPS case relates to when your child is removed from your home. I do not want to give you the impression that your child likely could be removed from your home. However, since it is a possibility, I think it is a subject that demands some discussion and merits careful analysis. It is better to learn about this and start thinking about it now rather than to find yourself in a position where you are asking questions as your child is walking out the door.
Additionally, if your child is being removed from your home, we have to ask ourselves where they are going? It’s not as if your child will be living in the office of the CPS caseworker assigned to work your case. With that in mind, I would like to share with you information today regarding not only the process of removing your child from your home, but I would like to share with you my thoughts on placing your child into the care of CPS while they have conservatorship of your child. Although ideally, this is only a temporary circumstance, it can still be disheartening to learn that your child is being removed from your house. It would help if you understood the basics of what to expect to prepare yourself, your family, and most importantly, your child.
What is the removal process like for a typical child?
It is to be expected that your child will experience some degree of sadness and uncertainty when your child is removed from your home. Being taken out of an environment with their parents will be a great deal for your child to help the process. On top of that, their bedroom, personal belongings, sibling relationships, and neighborhood friends will be taken away from them for some time. Children survive and being able to have stability and consistency in their lives. The benefit of both of those characteristics he’s taken away from their lives for some time if and when CPS removes your child.
Another relevant consideration is that the age of your child plays another important role in this circumstance. As a parent, you understand that your young children experience loss and hardship differently from your older children. A four-year-old will therefore process being removed from their home differently than a 14-year-old. therefore, you should expect to be able to talk about this subject differently with your children based on their age. Older children can likely process somewhat more sensitive information more readily than younger children. You can also be prepared for removal, assuming that you have time to do so.
It is possible that, given your circumstances, you have a person in your life who could step in and take temporary custody of your child during the CPS case. A relative, close friend, or other trusted person that can be agreed to with CPS could potentially house your child if they have to be removed from your care due to the allegations and investigation. This could go a long way towards helping your child deal with the difficulties of being removed from your home and being away from their parents for the first time on an extended basis.
On the other hand, it may be that a new child must be placed into foster care rather than with a person in your life. If this is the case, then your child will have to undergo additional and numerous changes to their daily life and habits that make this period even more difficult for them. Going into foster care for your child means that the foster family is someone that your child does not know and will need to learn how to care for your child and any special needs they may have. You can put yourself into the shoes of your child and understand how difficult it must be to have to learn how to adjust to living with a strange family under less than ideal circumstances.
Whatever circumstances you find yourself in, you should talk with your child as early as you can about this transition, assuming that you were allowed to do so. Additionally, if your child is placed into foster care, you must be able to take advantage of all opportunities to communicate with your child the importance of remaining positive and staying connected to your family.
It would be easy for you to become frustrated or despondent at the status of your case and your inability to function in a normal relationship with your child. However, it would help if you did not lose sight of the fact that no matter how bad you feel about your circumstances, it is likely paled in comparison by the degree to which your child feels lost or otherwise uneasy about their life given the events and circumstances of your case. As a result, you have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to assist your child as they transition out of your home and into temporary care.
What does it mean to have your child placed into care outside your home during a CPS case?
If CPS is named the temporary managing conservator of your child, then the agency and their staff will become responsible for choosing a place for your child to stay during an investigation or legal case. Your child’s specific needs, the type of support that they require, and the goals of the legal case we’ll all be balanced and placing your child. Many times the goal of a CPS case will be to temporarily remove your child and hope in hopes of having them returned home to you as quickly as possible.
There are many different outcomes for placing your child when they are removed from your house. For one, if you do not reside with your child another parent, then they may be able to how’s your child temporarily during your CPS case. If this is not an option, then your parents, siblings, or another extended family may be able to step in to care for your child; however, as a last resort, foster care is available as well where your child could stay with a family unrelated to you to ensure that your child is kept safe throughout a CPS case.
In going through this process with you and your family, CPS will consider several factors before deciding with you. First and foremost, on the mind of a CPS caseworker will be the safety of your child. Ultimately, children are only removed from a home when their physical safety and well-being are seriously jeopardized. As a result, your child’s ability to remain safe throughout a CPS case is of paramount importance.
Next, your child may be able to voice a preference as to where they live after being removed from your home. A great deal of this discussion relates to the age of your child and their maturity level. For example, if your child is 3 years old, their ability to reason their way through a removal situation is probably minimal. On the other hand, if your child is 13 years old, then that is a different story altogether. Your child may be allowed to work with the CPS caseworker and weigh in on the decision-making process for where they will be living throughout a CPS case.
Additionally, you and your family will be considered with your wishes as far as your child will reside. As we have just finished discussing, if you have family available who can potentially house your child, this is likely to be given preference when choosing a location for your child to live. After all, the agency will want to ease the transition out of your home for your child. Allowing your child to go to another parent or relative’s home would go a long way towards assisting in this endeavor.
Next, CPS will create a goal for permanency with your child at the outset of your case. This goal may end up being a permanent return home with you and your family. However, that goal could also involve placing your child permanently with another relative or even having your child stay in CPS custody. All of this depends on the allegations made against you in the CPS case. As a result, the goals for permanency will impact where your child is placed once it comes time to remove them, if at all.
Can your child be removed from your home on an emergency basis?
CPS will work with you if they become temporary conservators of your child through a court order. At that point, the agency will want to determine what living arrangements work best for your child, considering the above factors. Everything is geared towards achieving the permanency goal that is created at the beginning of the case. Although this goal can change over time, the initial permanency goal will be considered a great deal when determining where your child should reside after being removed from your home.
If emergency circumstances are in place, typically where your child’s well-being is thought to be in immediate harm, then short-term placement with a caregiver may be recommended. If your child is placed initially in a short-term emergency environment, then the CPS caseworker associated with the investigation will immediately begin to look for a permanent or long-term environment for your child to reside during the case. Subsequently, if your child has to be removed from their home, the agency understands that consistency and stability are important for them. Ideally, your child would have one home during the pendency of a CPS case before being returned home with you.
There are many moving pieces when it comes to a CPS case. Managing all of them simultaneously is a challenge for even the most experienced and prepared person. If you throw into the equation the emotion and uncertainty associated with the CPS case, you have a recipe for some difficult times in your life. Having an experienced attorney to help guide you, ask questions, and hold CPS accountable based on their decisions is crucial.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation 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 and how your family may be impacted by the filing of a CPS, divorce, or child custody case.