It happens sometimes that an anonymous person makes a phone call to Child Protective Services and says that someone they know about has been neglecting or abusing a child, has been arrested for a drug related crime, or is using illegal drugs, or they may bring up any number of things. If that happens to you then it is almost sure that a Child Protective Services investigator will show up at your home and ask you questions, including asking you to take a drug test.
To understand whether or not you should take the drug test and what to do if they ask questions, you must first understand what Child Protective Services, known as CPS, is. In a nutshell, it is an arm of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services which is a Texas state agency. This agency is tasked with the legal duty to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect. CPS cases are not without limitations, and they are bound by several rules and regulations that stem from their own handbook, federal law, and Texas statute.
My office handles cases for people who have had CPS called on them, and they often want to know if they can find out who made the call. It could be anyone, in the state of Texas each person has the duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect, this is especially true if you work in certain professional occupations such as therapist, lawyer, or doctor. If you are concerned about child abuse or neglect then you can call 1-800-252-5400 or make an online report at https://www.txabusehotline.org.
What happens after someone makes a report to CPS?
If someone makes a report to CPS then the case will be assigned to an investigative CPS worker in the child's county. The investigative worker will look into the facts regarding the allegation and will assign a certain outcome to the investigation. Some of the possible outcomes are: reason to believe there was abuse or neglect, unable to determine if there was abuse or neglect, unable to determine if there was abuse or neglect but with risk indicated, ruled out, ruled out with risk indicated, or unable to complete.
CPS can remove the child from your household if after an investigation the investigator thinks that the child is in danger or living in an unsafe environment. Some examples of an unsafe environment are illegal drug use, lack of food for the child or proper medical care, physical violence in the home, or sexual contact with the child. The previous list is not exhaustive and there can be other reasons that a child is removed from the home by CPS. If CPS decides to remove the child from your home it could be immediate if there is an immediate danger to the child, by getting a court order, or if you voluntarily give your consent to allow the child to be placed with another caregiver.
CPS has removed my child now what?
The Texas Family Code requires that a hearing be held within 14 days of the child being removed. This hearing is called the adversary hearing. In sum, the prosecutor for the state will try to prove that the removal was necessary for the safety and well being of the child and that they tried to return the child to the home but they could not because it was unsafe. For a detailed discussion of the adversary hearing, or if you have one coming up, get in touch with a CPS attorney at this office to discuss the specifics of the situation immediately. It is imperative that you have someone on your side that is familiar with the code sections that apply to the adversary hearing and the procedural rules regarding hearings. The outcome of the adversary hearing can determine what steps a court will order you to complete before the child's return, where the child will stay during your case, and whether the child will be returned home and, several other important issues.
What happens after the adversary hearing?
It is likely that after your adversary hearing you will be required to attend a permanency conference or a family conference and other hearings like status hearings and permanency hearings. At the family conference you will discuss the needs of the child, the long term goals for the child, and certain services that you should be required to complete. CPS can have different permanency goals that they are trying to achieve regarding the child and they are not always going to be trying to return the child to you, but family reunification could be the goal. It is important to have the advice of an experienced attorney to talk about what you should be doing at all phases of your case. If you have a family conference or permanency conference, or any other hearing coming up then discuss that with a qualified attorney as soon as possible so that you can craft a good strategy on getting your child back.
What is a service plan?
A CPS service plan is a written plan that outlines what CPS thinks should happen before the child can be returned home. After the adversary hearing CPS has 45 days to file a written service plan that particularly sets forth what services must be completed before attaining the permanency goal. If the child was removed from home because of something related to illegal drug use then it is possible and probable that your service plan will require you to take random drug tests or enter into drug rehab. Some of the other things they may require include, but are not limited to, taking parenting classes, keeping a stable job, attending all your hearings, and keeping your caseworker apprised of where you live and what your contact information is. The services required in the service plan should be related to the reason why the child was removed from the home.
You have rights during your CPS case.
It is important for you to understand that you have certain rights during a CPS case. Some of those rights include, but are not limited to, being able to talk to your case worker, the right to visitation with the child, unless the court has ordered otherwise, and the right to be notified of hearings and conferences, you may also be entitled to receive a court appointed attorney. For a full discussion of your rights and what to do if you are the target of a CPS investigation give The Law Office of Chad Zubi a call to discuss what to do next in this challenging time.
Tags: Child Custody, Child Protective Services
Chad Zubi Houston Family and Criminal Law Attorney.