Category Archives: CPS Claims

Catch and Release: The New World of CPS Investigation

I can’t make this stuff up.

Because Texas CPS has implemented what I call a “catch and release” policy when investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect, stories of CPS investigations like the one I’m going to share with you happen every day.

Here goes.

Jimmy goes fishing and gets caught in a CPS dragnet. 

Our story begins with the Jones family on a quiet Thursday afternoon at home in their access-controlled housing community.  Mom and dad are working in their home office, trying to finish their end of the month reports.  The two oldest boys, Jeff (14) and Jayson (10) ask to walk to the neighborhood pond, about a quarter-mile from home, to do some fishing.

Mom and dad say “sure” but instruct the boys to take Jimmy (5) with them.  But, Jimmy didn’t want to fish and the two older boys decided to ride their bikes in the neighborhood rather than fish. Unbeknownst to mom and dad, Jimmy changed his mind, slipped out of the house and went towards the pond, in search of his brothers.

Enter your wacky neighbor and mine

Neighborhood resident Ms. Gladewater sees this young boy walking alone and calls the police to intervene for this “missing child.”  The police come, kindly unravel the situation, and usher Jimmy home to his parents.  The entire episode transpired in about 15 minutes.

What the Texas Family Code says about reporting abuse 

Texas Family Code section 261.101 mandates that anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect must report it immediately.  The report may be made to law enforcement or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Further, law enforcement and other persons licensed or certified by the state of Texas are instructed to always err on the side of the child’s safety an
d report suspected abuse or neglect, which can lead to CPS investigations.

If CPS gets a call, you’re getting a call

Texas CPS policy tends to ebb and flow depending on recent events, available funding, and the general political climate. Long starved for resources, the agency has always been pressured to do more with less.  Then, when catastrophe strikes, blame gets divvied up from the most junior case investigator to the agency commissioner in Austin.

Now, CPS is adding staff, some more qualified than others, and responding to a mandate to thoroughly and aggressively investigate all reports of suspected abuse or neglect.  Coming back to our story, what was a harmless miscommunication on a Thursday afternoon is now a CPS investigation.

What can you expect during an abbreviated CPS investigation

Each investigation differs depending on the allegations, but you should expect the following to occur:

  • The CPS worker will visit and inspect your home for safety, cleanliness, and adequate food supplies;
  • The CPS worker will interview you not just about the allegations at hand but also about a wide array of other matters such as your employment, relationships, use of alcohol, use of drugs, and criminal history;
  • The CPS worker will interview your children… outside your presence.  Again, expect this interview to be wide-ranging;
  • The CPS worker will contact doctors, teachers and other collaterals necessary to complete the investigation;
  • If there is a concern about drug usage, the CPS worker will request you subfamily reunited after CPS investigationmit to an oral swab drug screen.

Four things I do to help my clients live through a CPS investigation

My work with clients facing CPS investigations extends beyond the courtroom.  In fact, my goal is to keep my clients out of the courthouse as the formal legal process simply adds to the trauma of an investigation, causes excessive delay, and adds greatly to the expense of a case.  Here are four things I do to help you get through a CPS investigation:

  • Protect clients from intimidating or otherwise unprofessional behavior by CPS investigators;
  • Clarify and verify the facts of the allegation;
  • Identify those specific actions necessary to address any existing safety concerns and to control those risk factors going forward;
  • Establish clear deadlines for the conclusion of the CPS investigation and completion of agreed-upon services.

… And the Jones family lived through their CPS investigation

I met with the Jones family, outlined what they should expect during the investigation, and intervened with the CPS investigator to set up a meeting at my office.  While the parents were not present during the interview of the children, I was there – – which was a great comfort to mom and dad.

The CPS investigator (who was very professional and sensitive to the boys’ apprehension) completed his investigation quickly and “ruled-out” any allegations against the Jones family.

For more information, please view our FAQ on CPS investigations

Gregory L. Housewirth is a an attorney and a Board-Certified Family Law SpeFort Worth Attorney, Greg Housewirthcialist. He has devoted his career to helping clients through life’s most challenging times.”

Greg Housewirth, Attorney/Mediator

1329 College Avenue
Suite 100
Fort Worth, Texas 76104
P: (817) 923-9999
F: (817) 717-5003

 

 

Bad Removals: When CPS gets it Wrong

sad-doll-in-a-treeWhat’s it like when your children are taken from you by CPS and placed into foster care?  After 25 years of helping families survive the trauma of a CPS removal, I still don’t really know.  But I see the anguish and tears of my CPS clients as they live out a nightmare and search for answers.

Parents always ask me questions such as ‘how could this happen?’ or ‘why would they do this?’  And I reply that it just doesn’t matter.  I don’t say this to be callous, but to help clients focus on what matters most… getting their children home.   You can spend the rest of your life trying to figure out why CPS does the things they do, and makes the decisions they make, but it won’t help you.

We need to move forward and prepare for court.  I am the top CPS lawyer in Fort Worth and, if you’ll work with me, I can save your family from disaster.  I am going to spend hours with you, getting to know you, coaching you through your case, and putting you in position to get your children home.

While every CPS case is different, my legal strategy for these cases rests on these three fundamental truths:

1.  CPS and Family Court Judges are risk averse.  Nobody wants to loose their job, or have their case reported in the media.  In 25 years of practice, I can say with certainty that no CPS worker or Judge has ever suffered a negative consequence for leaving a child in foster care.  On the other hand, things blow-up when a child is returned home only to be abused again.

2.  Once they’ve made a decision, CPS never changes it’s mind — even when confronted with the facts.  Rarely, never, does a CPS worker admit they were wrong.  Rather than continuing to evaluate cases as additional facts come to light, CPS chooses to create a narrative based on distortions, half-truths, and conjecture to affirm their initial decision.

3.  CPS Workers and Family Court Judges never consider the lasting emotional damage done to children who are removed from their home, without notice, by a CPS worker.  Children removed from their parents are suffering an emotional harm that will affect their future development and happiness.  Most of these children suffer PTSD symptoms for months or even years following their foster care placement.    Nevertheless, CPS workers always testify the children are doing “great” in their foster home.   Our family court judges should devote themselves to understanding the true long-term effects of family separation of children in CPS care.

Families in crisis have turned to me for over 25 years to help save their children from CPS foster care.  My work in these cases goes beyond the ordinary court appearance.  My experience and unique understanding of CPS helps me to work your case from many different angles; in court and out of court.

Greg Housewirth

Is There Food In Your Pantry? Getting Ready For Your CPS Home Study

Getting Ready For Your CPS Home StudyGrandparents and other family members who intervene in pending custody cases brought by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services must prepare themselves for a home study. While you can still get custody of a child without a favorable home study, your chances of success increase dramatically when an approved study is on file with the family law court.

CPS attorneys Gregory L. Housewirth and Holly J. Schreier have helped hundreds of concerned grandparents obtain custody of grandchildren caught in Dallas CPS cases. While there is no substitute for representation by the most recognized CPS attorneys in Dallas, following this advice from CPS attorney Greg Housewirth may improve your chances of passing a CPS child custody home study.

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Our Approach To CPS May Save Your Family

Our Approach To Cps May Save Your FamilyAfter being sharply criticized in federal court for its practice of removing children on scant evidence, we thought Texas CPS would adopt a more measured approach when responding to child abuse allegations. In the years since the Gates decision and the implementation of new CPS policies, removals under Chapter 262 are down.

But, does this mean Texas CPS is less aggressive in their investigations? The answer is an emphatic “no.”

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Child Protection Or Family Selection?

How Texas CPS stacks the Deck

Is the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (“CPS”) only concerned with the protection of children, or does the Agency enter into alliances with foster families that deprive children the opportunity for placement with other family members?

Does Texas CPS Play Favorites?

Consider the following scenario. Baby Joe is born in 2009 and immediately removed from his mother’s care by Dallas County Child Protective Services. Joe’s mother, Jane, has previously given birth to another child, Jessica. Jane placed Jessica for adoption with the Smith family in 2004. Mr. and Mrs. Smith live with Jessica in New York.

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