You may have heard stories about Child Protective Services (CPS) invading a family’s privacy and taking away their children. This can all spark from simply a third party disagreeing how you raise your children, and not having the right practical or legal knowledge to deal with CPS.
Don’t fall victim to a CPS case. You deserve to know your rights and keep your child, especially if you’ve done nothing wrong. Texas CPS is notorious for controversy, but you can help prevent your children from becoming a headline.
If you are dealing with a child protective service case, you might be wondering if you should get a lawyer. Keep reading to learn more about child protective service law, and when you should get an attorney involved. For more detailed information visit our Texas CPS FAQ.
Texas CPS is a divison of a state-run agency, called the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, that is obligated by law to investigate any reports of child neglect or abuse. Any time a worker receives a report of any abuse, they must open and investigate these allegations.
During this investigation, the CPS investigator will determine if there is enough evidence to get the court involved, request voluntary services, or close the case. Accusers can report any mental, physical, or emotional abuse or any concerns that a parent is neglecting their children.
Many professionals are “mandatory reporters” in Texas, meaning that they can face serious legal consequences for not reporting signs of abuse or neglect. Mandatory reporters include doctors, counselors, and teachers. Texas mandatory reporters are often trained to err on the side of making a call to CPS, but referrals from these people tend to be taken more seriously than anonymous reports from others. This leads to a situation where professionals report cases of minimal concern, to protect themselves legally, but CPS takes the cases very seriously.
Any type of neglect or abuse that sacrifices a child’s well-being will be investigated. Usually, a CPS worker will come to the accused’s home, unannounced, and go over the report. During this investigation, the worker might interview the parents or legal guardians and the children separately. CPS investigators often interview children at school without infoming parents first.
While each state has it’s own CPS agency, regulations, and laws, there are general procedures that every state tends to abide.
First, this process begins when a report of neglect or abuse is filed to the state’s CPS. Once the report is made, then CPS will investigate the report and decide if, based on all the facts available, the claim is true. However, if a CPS investigator or caseworker sees “reasons for concern” that have nothing to do with the original allegations, they may expand their investigation.
Once an investigation is completed, the CPS investigator is required to make a formal “finding,” or determination of what they believe happened. There are now five categories of findings: Reason to Believe, Unable to Determine, Ruled Out, Alternative Response, or Administrative Closure. Even if no services are requested or a court is NOT involved, these findings can follow a person like a criminal history. These findings prevented you from volunteering at schools, chaperoning events, or working with children, among other consequences.
If the risk of the child is low, the agency might simply work with the family to improve the situation or report back that there is no instance of child neglect or abuse. Children will usually stay with their parents unless the situation is at a higher risk.
In worst cases, if the agency can’t work with the parents to make the situation better, then the court will become involved to keep the child safe. This could result in the child being removed from the home permanently and placed in a shelter or with foster parents for adoption.
Several different types of neglect and abuse can be reported to the CPS. These include physical abuse, such as any non-accidental injury inflicted on a child by physical force. There’s also emotional abuse, which includes rejection, criticism, or other confidence damaging tactics.
There’s also sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, and substance abuse. These types of abuse can be reported by anyone who is aware of the situation.
Those who are employed to work closely with children may be required to report any abuse they see. These employees include hospital and medical personnel, school officials, social service workers, law enforcement, and residential care workers.
If you are undergoing a CPS investigation, you want a lawyer on your side. Here’s why.
If you are falsely accused of child abuse, you might find yourself becoming angry and lashing out at social workers and investigators. This does not help your case. You should know any angry words of frustration that you use on CPS works can and will be used against you.
If you’re working with a lawyer, they will help guide you on what you should say, and when you should say it. They will also keep you informed on what not to say (which is crucial), and times when you should not say anything at all.
In addition to guiding you on what you should and shouldn’t say, a lawyer is also well versed at understanding your local court system. An experienced family law attorney will understand the procedures of an investigation of an alleged child abuse case.
This case could lead to an intervention or removal of your child, and a good family law attorney knows not only the procedures your state’s CPS agency needs to follow but also the best way to get your child back.
There’s a good chance that social workers and the police could have been overzealous and violated your constitutional rights, or maybe they fell short somewhere during your investigation.
Sometimes a CPS investigation could make your child’s situation even worse. The CPS might put your child into a foster home or other placement that is inappropriate, which is why you need a lawyer to help you in these situations.
A local and experienced family law attorney will know your state’s court system inside and out, and will also know what you can expect from certain judges.
If you are facing a child abuse allegation, you might learn that your friends and family are now questioning you, and might have stopped supporting you. A family law attorney can be a reliable source for you, not only with legal insight but also giving you peace of mind knowing that you’re in good hands.
Your lawyer will know how to handle CPS investigators, other attorneys, and law enforcement officers, so you don’t have to. Dealing with a CPS investigation is invasive, grueling, and can be life-changing. If you are being investigated, you need an experienced lawyer on your side.
Now that you understand what happens during a case involving child protective service law, it’s a no brainer that you don’t want to go through this process alone. A strong lawyer can give you the legal support you need to win your case and bring your children home.
If you’re looking for an experienced CPS attorney in San Antonio, Texas, look no further. Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC has got you covered. Contact us today!