Child Protective Services (CPS) sets out to protect the interests of children in the state of Texas. However, they can become overzealous in their mission and infringe on your parental rights.
As a mother or father whose family life has been affected by CPS, it’s crucial that you learn more about what CPS can and cannot do in Texas. I’ll help you understand where the line is drawn so that you can recognize a situation where CPS has overstepped its bounds and where you may need legal advice to form a solid defense against CPS.
Need immediate support defending your family against CPS? Contact me right away! You do not have to surrender parental rights.
3 Keys to What CPS Can and Cannot Do in Texas
1. What Prompts an Investigation by CPS?
The Texas Family Code states that CPS can investigate reports that a child has been or is being abused or neglected. Anyone can initiate the report (e.g., teachers, grandparents, neighbors, an ex-spouse, etc.), and because this can be done anonymously, you will likely not know who made the claim.
Once CPS receives the report, an evaluation will be made about the severity of the claim. If CPS deems that a child could be in immediate danger, the claim could prompt an investigation, and local law enforcement could become involved.
CPS must begin an investigation to find facts backed by evidence for them to be able to take action. CPS will attempt to complete investigations within 45 days. They can also request an extension to 90 days if the police or a prosecuting attorney determines that a longer investigation period is necessary.
As a parent, you need to be prepared to present a strong initial defense. You could feel pressured to give into CPS demands or compromise your parental rights. But, you do have rights as a parent.
You will want to show the CPS investigator that you are capable of maintaining your child’s well-being and looking out for their safety. You may also include positive eyewitness accounts from neighbors and other family members defending your position that you are not an abusive or neglectful parent.
CPS might tend to overreact to complaints in a way that can seem unfair to the parents. This often leads to disputes, especially if parents are unaware of their parental rights and feel attacked without cause. That’s why it’s important to know what CPS is allowed to do and what they cannot do.
2. What CPS Can Do During an Investigation
The CPS investigator must collect information that will help decide if your child is safe and if CPS needs to involve themselves in your family further. The investigator can gather information in numerous ways, including:
- Having conversations with individuals who have close ties to your family or have seen the claimed abuse or neglect firsthand
- Obtaining photos of your child and your home
- Inspecting your home as well as your child for any injuries or signs of abuse
- Obtaining copies of school and medical records, police reports, and any previous history with CPS
- Requesting and reviewing the results of a medical or psychological exam
Also, an investigator can visit your home. If the investigator shows up for a home visit and you allow them into your home, or if they lawfully enter your home, they can take certain actions:
- Investigate False Claims. A CPS caseworker may visit your home after receiving a false or extremely ludicrous claim. Remember, it’s their job to investigate and take all claims and anonymous tips seriously.
- Make an Unannounced Visit. CPS investigators do not have to give you notice before they perform a home visit; they normally show up unannounced.
- Converse With Your Child Without Your Permission. Your permission is not required for a CPS social caseworker to talk to your child alone. This is especially the case if there are abuse or sexual assault claims. CPS can ask questions about whether your child feels safe in your home.
- Ask Invasive and Uncomfortable Questions. A CPS social worker can lawfully ask a range of questions as long as the questions are not discriminatory in nature. Your answers could be used against you. That’s why you need expert CPS legal support to know how to handle this situation.
- Take Your Children From You. With the help of law enforcement, CPS can lawfully remove your child from your home if the determination has been made that there is an immediate threat. Contact me right away if this has happened.
3. What CPS Cannot Do During an Investigation
There are certain actions that CPS cannot take without proper consent. CPS cannot enter your home unless you give them permission to do so, they have a court order allowing them to lawfully enter your home, or have compelling evidence that your child is in immediate danger.
You may feel unprepared when a CPS social worker visits your home. In normal cases, you can simply tell them it’s not the best time and reschedule them to visit another time. This way, you can spend time preparing to make a strong defense and help your children understand what they might be asked about.
Also, CPS cannot force you to take a drug test without a court order or your consent. Do not feel pressured to give into CPS’ requests. And, if you feel that your parental rights are being violated, contact me immediately to discuss your situation.
Find Expert Legal Support Dealing with CPS in Texas
If you are unsure whether CPS is crossing the line in investigating your family, please contact me right away to discuss the circumstances. I will help you understand how to handle the situation and provide you with the appropriate CPS legal defense.
Unlike CPS investigators, I am on your side. I will help even the battle and support your family, especially if the investigation advances to court hearings. I have helped countless families in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County remove CPS from their lives for good.
Call my offices today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss what CPS can and cannot do in Texas. I’m ready to help you defend your family and protect your parental rights!