So, CPS has removed your children from your home: is there any chance that you can get them back? The short answer to that question is “yes.” To start with, CPS is only authorized by law (Chapter 262 of the Texas Family Code) to remove children from their home when facts exist that would “satisfy a person of ordinary prudence and caution to believe that there is an immediate danger to the physical health or safety of the child, or the child has been a victim of neglect or sexual abuse, and that continuation in the home would be contrary to the child's welfare.”
According to the most recent statistics available, approximately 3,200,000 children are investigated each year by the various Child Protective Services agencies operating within the United States of America. Of course, not all of those investigations result in findings of abuse or neglect. And, while no one who has been through that experience would call it “enjoyable,” we, unfortunately, have no system of investigating child abuse or neglect which is perfect at avoiding putting innocent parents through such investigations.
The purpose of this writing is to lay-out some ideas on what you can do if you find yourself being investigated by CPS.
The first thing to do is to remain calm. This lets you converse intelligently with the CPS case investigator with whom you are dealing.
Texas law (the Texas Family Code) provides that CPS shall investigate reports that a child has been abused or neglected. Those reports are typically made through either a phone call, or online ( ph. 1-800-252-5400 or www.txabusehotline.org).
The law goes on to state that the investigation shall be “prompt and thorough,” and may require the assistance of local law enforcement. And when that investigation reveals an “immediate danger” to the welfare of the child, then CPS may remove the child from his or her home, either with or without first obtaining a court order, depending on whether “there is …time” “consistent with the health and safety of (the) child” to first obtain a court order (such as a temporary restraining order).
Child Protective Services (CPS)
When Texas Child Protective Services comes to visit you or your child (perhaps while that child is at school), it is rarely a good idea to ignore them. CPS has the power by law to “take possession of a child without a court order” if the CPS worker, a law enforcement officer or a juvenile probation officer has personal knowledge of facts that would lead a person of ordinary prudence and caution to believe that there is either an immediate danger to the physical health or safety of the child; or that the child has been a victim of sexual abuse.
Additionally, those classes of people may also remove a child without a court order, if they have information supplied by another person (typically, the person who makes the initial report to CPS) that is merely corroborated by some known personal facts which “together would lead a person of ordinary prudence and caution to believe” that (either) there is an immediate danger to the physical health or safety of the child; that the child has been a victim of sexual abuse; or, “that the parent or person who has possession of the child has permitted the child to remain on premises used for the manufacture of methamphetamine.”
So, what does all of that mean? If someone makes a report of child abuse or neglect to CPS, which provides “information” of the type described above, then the CPS worker can remove your child or children without a court order, even if the CPS Investigator lacks the ability to verify that information (such as when you avoid them), but has some other, unspecified personal knowledge of other facts that cause him or her to believe that your child or children may be in danger.
If you find yourself in the unenvitable position of having contact with someone from CPS, please contact an attorney immediately. As always, our initial 30 minute consultations are free.