Anyone can report suspected child neglect or abuse to child protective services (CPS). In this instance, CPS examines the information surrounding the alleged neglect or abuse. If warranted, CPS moves forward with an investigation into the claim.
A CPS investigation is a serious matter. During the investigation, CPS can consult with a child, caregiver, and other parties. If CPS finds a child is a victim of neglect, abuse, or both, it tries to remove his or her caretaker from the home. As a last resort, CPS may remove the child from the home.
When Should You Report Someone to CPS?
There are three reasons to report someone to CPS:
- Physical abuse. A child shows signs of injury. Or, there is an immediate threat of violence to a child.
- Sexual abuse. A child displays certain behavioral signs that indicate possible sexual abuse. These signs can include flinching or raising the hands in a defensive manner.
- Neglect. A child is found living alone in a dangerous environment and/or is forced to spend long periods of time without proper care.
It is not an individual’s responsibility to determine if child abuse or neglect has occurred. Conversely, an individual should report signs of abuse or neglect to CPS. In doing so, an individual can help CPS determine if it should investigate the situation and intervene.
What Happens If Someone Files a CPS Report Against You?
CPS screens every report that comes its way. if a report is deemed invalid, it will be “screened out.” Conversely, if a report is “screened in,” CPS can further investigate it.
A CPS report is screened out if there is a lack of information. In this instance, CPS lacks adequate information to launch an investigation. Furthermore, CPS can find information included in a report to be inaccurate. CPS can also discover that this information does not meet its criteria for child abuse or neglect.
Comparatively, a CPS report is screened in if there is suspected child abuse or neglect within a specific time period according to state law. This period usually ranges from 24 to 48 hours or up to five days.
What Happens During a CPS Investigation in Texas?
CPS can work on its own or in conjunction with the police to perform an investigation. In addition, the investigation may require CPS to interview a child, the parent or guardian suspected of abuse or neglect, and other parties.
If CPS finds abuse or neglect has occurred, it takes steps to remove a child from immediate harm. CPS then determines what follow-up actions are required to keep a child safe.
CPS can remove a child from their home. However, CPS only does so after it confirms a child is not safe at home due to their parent or guardian’s inability to prevent harm or provide insufficient care.
Get Help to Combat Child Abuse and Neglect Charges
Kids who experience child abuse and neglect are approximately nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activity, according to the most recent research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Child abuse and neglect charges can result in substantial penalties. Worst of all, they can force parents to lose custody of their children.
If you are facing child abuse and neglect charges, help is available. At this point, an attorney may be able to help you reduce or eliminate your charges. Contact a Houston defense attorney to explore your legal options today.