Child Protective Services (CPS) is a government agency that works for the safety of children. They will investigate any reports of abused or neglected children. In Texas, this serves under the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. CPS is not merely designed to take away kids from their homes but to ensure they’re living in safe spaces under safe guardianship. However, it’s common that parents will get scared if they believe they might have their kids taken away from them. If CPS does have reason to believe the kids are better off somewhere other than with the parents, they can place the kids in another home or under supervision.
If you are under a CPS investigation, then you should contact a CPS investigations lawyer to help. The Gonzalez Law Group practices both family law and criminal defense, so we can look at your case from both sides of the spectrum. Contact The Gonzalez Law Group to get started with a free consultation. Our firm will analyze your case and let you know what steps to take next. We will always keep you updated on what’s going on in your case and never leave you in the dark.
What is a CPS Investigation?
A CPS investigation is an investigation conducted by Child Protective Services (CPS) to evaluate the current living conditions of children inside the home after claims of abuse or neglect. For a CPS investigation to even happen, someone must contact Child Protective Services (CPS) to submit a report involving your family. The person who reports you can be your neighbor, friend, or even a stranger. However, once a report is filed with CPS, they must investigate to assess its validity. If you have more than one child, CPS will most likely include them in the investigation, as well.
A CPS investigator can show up at your home without prior notice and ask to look inside the house. If the CPS investigator shows up at your doorstep, he or she must obtain permission to come inside. They will usually conduct interviews with the children, reporting party, family members, domestic partners, others living in the house, teachers, witnesses, or other relevant individuals to get more information. CPS can interview your child at their school but must let you know within 24 hours after it happens.
The CPS investigator will also inspect the home for any safety concerns, examine your child for any apparent injuries, and send the child for a physical and mental health evaluation. Whether you give your consent or not, if a court orders the exam, it will be done. Again, they must let you know when and where the evaluation takes place. A few things to keep in mind about the physical exam:
- A CPS investigator only has the authority to conduct a general physical exam
- The general physical exam must be performed by a person of the same sex as the child
- A sexual abuse exam, which can involve looking at your child’s intimate parts, must be done by a certified nurse or medical physician
- Only you, the child’s legal guardian, the court, or a CPS officiated guardian of the child can permit to conduct a sexual abuse exam
The CPS investigator can also obtain documents regarding your children, such as school notes, doctor exams, criminal backgrounds, or any relevant paperwork. If the CPS investigator suspects a safety risk of any kind, he or she will take the necessary steps to better the child’s living environment.
The purpose of a CPS investigation entitles the following:
- Overseeing the child resides in a safe space, with the right living conditions
- Assess whether abuse or neglect has happened inside the home
- Find out if other people inside the home/family suffer from abuse or neglect
- Evaluate how likely it is that neglect or abuse will happen inside the home again
- Come up with a plan to better the child’s living situation if applicable
Steps to Take as a Parent
The smartest step to take if involved in a CPS investigation is to seek a CPS investigations lawyer to help throughout the process. They can provide the right legal advice and represent you in court if need be. You should also consider taking the following steps:
- Get relevant witnesses who will attest to your good parenting
- Seek viable information to explain your kid’s injuries (if present)
- Remain calm even if the situation with the CPS investigator becomes frustrating
- Be compliant to the CPS investigator’s demands (when reasonable)
- Check in with your lawyer each time to make sure the CPS investigator’s requests are reasonable and not without basis
- Attend all scheduled meetings or reviews involving CPS to show that you’re taking the case seriously (bring a lawyer)
- File a formal complaint if you continue having trouble with the caseworker, even after you’ve tried to fix the problem between yourselves. The lawyer can help you with this.
What Can a CPS Investigation Lead to?
A CPS investigation doesn’t always mean that your child will be taken away. If the CPS investigator does find traces of abuse in the home or you admit them yourself, he or she will most likely seek temporary housing for the child. If you know you are struggling, and you might need the help of a CPS investigator, that is always an option too. Based on what the CPS investigator finds, and if they have substantial evidence, the investigation can lead to the following:
CPS decides that it’s safe enough for the child to stay with you at your home; however, he or she will work with you on a safety plan to better living conditions for the child.
Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS)
CPS refers your case to Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS) if they think you might struggle with the safety plan. FBSS will work with you, in the long run, to ensure that your child is continuously safe and living under manageable conditions.
Parental Child Safety Placement (PCSP)
This placement is different from removal in that it is seen as more of a temporary placement rather than permanent. Most likely, the CPS investigator will allow you to provide the names of close relatives or friends willing to provide care and a home for your child, while the investigation continues. This placement is more of a chance to fix the wrong things inside your home or dynamic, rather than taking away your child for good. However, you must follow CPS guidelines to live under the same roof as your child when placed into PCSP. If you do not follow the guidelines or recommendations, CPS can move on to placing a child under CPS guardianship and sending your child to live with someone else of their choosing.
If there are no other options, or CPS finds that your child is at risk, they will take your child under their guardianship and find another home for them.
You will receive a letter from CPS confirming the conclusion of CPS’ investigation with one of the decisions above. If you don’t agree with the letter’s determination, then you have the chance to request a review within 45 days of the determination letter’s date. CPS will then review their investigation over.
However, if a court has already retained custody of your child, you can’t appeal the decision. CPS also does not have to keep your child in your home while they’re doing the review. You should show up at the review with a lawyer by your side. That way, the lawyer can help you defend your case. You receive the results of the review usually within another 45 days.
Attorney for CPS Investigations in Harris County, TX
The Gonzalez Law Group understands how important your family is to you and that you are willing to do anything to keep it together. It is always advisable to have a CPS lawyer present with you if dealing with a CPS investigation. The Gonzalez Law Group can help you during a CPS investigation. They will be there side by side while the investigation is happening. Contact our firm to get a free consultation. We are determined to help your family stay together. We work with clients in Houston, Galveston, Richmond, Baytown, Pasadena, Sugarland, Pearland, Katy, League City, and others.