What Happens When Someone Calls CPS? Ask Our CPS Defense Lawyers of Flower Mound TX!
We Have a CPS Defense Attorney to Protect You and Your Family from Abuse Accusations in Texas.
Child Protective Services, commonly referred to as CPS, is an agency designed to protect children from abuse and neglect. The Julian Firm is uniquely prepared to help you navigate the complex, overwhelming, and often unnecessary rules and polices of the CPS system. Our CPS defense lawyers of Flower Mound TX are standing by to assist with your case.
“No parent or family member can afford to take on CPS without legal representation. It is unequivocally necessary to hire an attorney with CPS experience to have you voice heard in Court.” – William E. Johnson, Former CPS Prosecutor and Former Specialty Family Drug Court Prosecutor
Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions answered by Board Certified CPS defense attorney, William Johnson, of The Julian Firm.
What Does CPS Do?
CPS is Child Protective Services. CPS falls under the umbrella of the Department of Family and Protective Services. CPS is a governmental agency that protects children who have been neglect, abused, or at risk of neglect or removal.
What Do I Do When CPS Calls About a Complaint Against Me in Texas?
- COOPERATE. CPS will not go away. CPS is mandated by law to investigate once a referral is received. CPS will not “go away” without completing an investigation. The investigation must end in a disposition and a disposition cannot be made without an investigation. If you refuse to cooperate, it is likely CPS will seek legal intervention to force you to cooperate. Ultimately, CPS has the ability to remove your children from your custody without a court order. If you refuse to cooperate, there is a chance your children could be removed or CPS could seek assistance from the Courts. However, you do not have to cooperate without an attorney.
- CALL AN ATTORNEY. You CANNOT afford to not have an attorney by your side when CPS calls you. The Julian Firm is uniquely prepared to represent you in CPS cases. The Julian Firm will help you navigate the investigation and all subsequent CPS proceedings.
If a CPS agent called you or if your child has already been removed from your home, then immediately contact our family law attorneys of Flower Mound. It is important you hire a CPS defense attorney with the experience to fight to get your children back to you as soon as possible.
Can CPS Take My Children?
Yes. The legal process is called a “removal.” CPS can remove your children without a court order. The court order is an emergency temporary restraining order and CPS must set a show cause hearing, commonly referred to as an “Adversary Hearing” simultaneously with the removal. The adversary hearing must, by law, occur within 14 days of the removal of the children.
Will My Children Go To Foster Care?
If your children are removed by CPS, it is a possibility your children will be placed into foster care. CPS is mandated to search out all possible family options prior to placing the children in foster care. If you are being investigated, you need to have a list of family members prepared for CPS in the event your children are removed. To ensure CPS explores all family members, your list should include your family member’s date of birth, driver’s license number, and social security number. Being prepared will help prevent your children from being placed in foster care. If your children are placed with family, CPS will refer to the children’s new residence as a “kinship placement.”
What Is Kinship Placement?
A kinship placement is when children are removed from their parents, but placed with family. Close friends to the parents or children can also be considered as a placement. This type of placement is called a “fictive kinship placement.”
Will The Kinship Placement Receive Benefits?
Yes. CPS has kinship funds available for the first twelve months of the placement. Once the twelve-month period expires, the kinship placement can petition the Court for additional kinship funds. Additionally, CPS will assist in providing daycare for the children provided the daycare accepts CCMS payments. CPS will not provide funds for afterschool programs.
My Children Have Been Removed What Do I Do?
Contact a CPS defense attorney immediately. Once your children are removed, a hearing must be held within fourteen days. The sooner you retain an attorney, the sooner that attorney can begin his preparation to defend your case and help you reunite with your children.
What Is An Adversary Hearing?
At the adversary hearing, CPS must prove several elements for the removal to be upheld. These elements must be proved by a civil burden of proof standard that is equivalent to the criminal burden of probable cause. Probable cause is the burden of proof to make an arrest, not to convict. CPS must prove that a person of ordinary prudence and caution that the following occurred:
- The removal was in the best interest of the children;
- That a continuing danger exists to the children’s physical or emotional safety if the children were returned to the care of the parent; and
- Reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal;
- It is contrary to the welfare of the children to be returned to the care of the parent.
- **If the removal was an emergency removal – CPS must also prove an immediate danger to the physical or emotional safety of the child existed at the time of removal.
What are “Aggravated Circumstances?”
Aggravated Circumstances is the most serious plea CPS can make to the Court. When CPS removes your children, CPS will request the Court order the parents to work services to alleviate and correct the actions that caused abuse to or neglect of the child in hopes of reuniting the child with the parents. When CPS claims aggravated circumstances, CPS is requesting the Court to set the case for final trial and allow CPS to NOT offer services. Essentially, aggravated circumstances means CPS believes the parent cannot and will never be able to fix the behavior that led to the removal of the child.
Do I have rights?
YES. Parents have rights. These rights are constitutional, but these rights can be restricted or terminated if the parent neglects or abuses his or her children and does not make a behavioral change and address the actions that led to or caused the neglect or abuse. Scholars, academics, professional, and the courts alike have agreed that it is in the best interest of the children for parents to remain in their children’s lives. Since it is undisputed it is better for parents to be in their children’s lives, the Texas Legislature has created many laws, presumptions, and safeguards to protect the parent-child relationship. Consult with our CPS defense lawyers in Flower Mound, TX to understand your parental rights.
What is a Safety Plan?
A Safety Plan is a temporary agreement to keep the child safe. A safety plan, unlike a PCSP, does not require the child to live away from the protective parent; rather a safety plan generally requires the alleged perpetrator to leave the child’s home; requires an approved adult to move into the home to supervise the child, or requires the protective parent to remove.
In certain cases, CPS will use the “Safety Plan” as a stopgap measure to prevent the removal of a child.
What is a Parent Child Safety Placement (“PCSP”)?
A Parental Child Safety Placement (PCSP) is a temporary, short-term out-of-home placement a parent can make when DFPS staff determine that the child cannot safely stay with a parent.
This placement is completely voluntary; however, it is not uncommon for CPS to seek to remove the children if the parents will not agree to this plan.
These plans should not last longer than 60 days.
In certain cases, CPS, will use (similar to the misuse of a “Safety Plan) the “PCSP” as a stopgap measure to prevent the removal of a child.
What is a Service Plan and what are Services?
A service plan is a plan created by CPS that contains all the services the parent must complete to reunite with their child after the child is removed. CPS will expect you not only to complete everything contained in the service plan, but to make behavioral changes and learn from the services.
“Services” are a series of classes and professional evaluations to assist a parent to create a safe and suitable home for their child. Examples of these “services” are:
- Chemical Dependency Evaluation
- Psychological Evaluation
- Drug and Alcohol Assessment
- Supportive Outpatient Program
- Intensive Outpatient Program
- Inpatient Program
- Individual Counseling
- Batter’s Intervention and Prevention Program “BIPP”
- Anger Management
- Group Counseling
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Parenting Class
- Focus Fatherhood
- Focus Motherhood
Not only are these services voluminous and time consuming, CPS will also expect you maintain and continue employment, maintain and continue stable housing, pay child support, and pay cash medical support.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is when a person files suit in a pending lawsuit. It is common in CPS cases for grandparents, relatives, and foster parents to intervene.
It is not uncommon for CPS to deny placement with a grandparent or relative for criminal history or CPS history that is more than twenty years old or because of unreasonable or un-articulable concerns.
We can help you navigate the CPS process.
What is a “home study” or a home assessment?”
CPS will not place a child with anyone before conducting a home study or home assessment. Sometimes, CPS will refuse to even conduct a home study or home assessment. If CPS will not agree to conduct a home study or home assessment the Court can and most likely will order CPS to conduct a home study or home assessment.
CPS will not place the child with you, the Court can order
Who can intervene?
Typically, in CPS cases, the only parties who intervene are family members or foster parents. Intervention allows you to become a party and for you voice to be heard in Court. Family member, placement, and foster parents can all intervene. Once you intervene, you will have the ability to protect the child equal to that of CPS.
Grandparents rights are limited in Texas as compared to other states. To become a party in a suit, a party must have “standing.” Standing demonstrates a connection to a case. The ability for non-parents, including grandparents, to intervene in a lawsuit is governed by several specific statutes. The Courts have historically and strictly enforced these statutes. However, the Courts have consistently relaxed the barriers preventing grandparents or other family members from intervening in CPS cases as compared to traditional custody cases. The Courts’ collective reasoning is that it is in the best interest of a child, specifically a child in a CPS case where there abuse or neglect has been proven, to have as many familial options as possible.
When CPS denies placing a child with their grandparents or relative, an intervention is the only way for that family member to come before the Court and make a formal request for the child to be placed with them.
An intervention in a powerful tool for grandparents or relatives to keep the parents rights from being terminated forever, keep the family unit intact, and to protect the child.
What is a CPS Investigation?
Once CPS receives a referral, CPS is mandated by law to investigate. When the referral is screened for the first time, CPS assigns a priority level to the referral.
The three priority levels are the following:
Priority 1 Referral:
A report that a child appears to face an immediate threat to his or her safety or is in immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious harm.
Any report alleging abuse or neglect that is received within 12 months after a previous investigation was closed as Unable to Complete. In such a case, the report is not downgraded. The report must remain a Priority 1 and must be investigated.
A report involves a child’s death that has never been investigated and there is a clear allegation that the child’s death was the result of alleged abuse or neglect, even if there are no other children in the home
This investigation must begin within 24 hours of it being received.
Priority 2 Referral:
If a report of abuse or neglect is accepted for investigation but does not meet the criteria for being assigned as a Priority I, then it is assigned as a Priority II.
Priority None (Alternative Response):
There is a history of abuse or neglect, but no current or foreseeable risk.
An incident of abuse or neglect may have met legal definitions at the time that the past incident occurred, but at the time of the new intake report, there are no current safety concerns and there is no known risk of recurrence in the foreseeable future.
For example, a child reports that she was sexually abused by an uncle six years ago. The parents are protective. The uncle lives in a nursing home and has no access to the child.
Essential information is needed from a specific collateral or principal source to determine whether an assignable allegation of abuse or neglect exists.
In this situation, the CPS screener must attempt to contact the source to obtain additional information.
The level of referral will most certainly dictate how quickly and thoroughly CPS will investigate your case.
Can I find out who made the referral?
No. Referrals, by law, are confidential. The Court can order the identity to be revealed, but that is extremely unlikely unless the report was made purely in bad-faith.
What is a disposition?
When CPS investigates a case, CPS must make a finding to dispose of the investigative stage of the case. These finding are as follows:
Reason to Believe: CPS finds by a preponderance of the evidence that you abused or neglected a child.
Ruled Out: CPS does not find by a preponderance of the evidence that you abused or neglected a child.
Unable to Determine: CPS was unable to fully investigate the case and cannot make a determination of “Ruled Out” or “Reason to Believe.” This generally occurs when a parent relocates during an investigation and the investigator does not have the updated contact information to continue the investigation.
Can you appeal a CPS finding?
Yes. If you are the subject of a CPS investigation and CPS makes a finding of “Reason to Believe,” it is absolutely necessary to appeal the finding. The State of Texas is required by law to maintain a central registry. This central registry is a centralized database that accounts for all persons with a CPS finding of “Reason to Believe.” If CPS makes a finding of “Reason to Believe” then you will forever be tagged as a person who physically or emotionally abused or neglected a child. There is a high chance you could lose out on future prospects or hiring if you are in the central registry. Depending on the thoroughness of a background search, your finding of “Reason to Believe” may show on your background search and almost assuredly ruin your chances of being hired.
Note: You have only 45 days to appeal from the date you receive the disposition letter.
Protect Your Rights as a Parent
Are you dealing with Child Protective Services in Texas? We can help. Contact The Julian Firm today to learn more about how our CPS defense lawyers of Flower Mound TX can assist you.