Be Prepared for CPS

Last week I had a good meeting with the interim commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the head of Children’s Protective Services (CPS). It was my first time to meet these individuals since they had assumed their positions. What prompted this meeting was a problem that a THSC member had with CPS. This member had been investigated twice in the previous six months regarding anonymous allegations of abuse.

While both times the investigation showed that there was no abuse or neglect, on both occasions the caseworker tried to coerce the family into placing their children into a public school and therefore end the home education of their children. We wrote a letter of behalf of this family to the caseworker involved and copied the commissioners of CPS and DFPS and other officials. We referred the caseworker to the CPS memorandum that clarifies CPS policy that home schooling is not relevant to an investigation of abuse/neglect. We also obtained legal representation for the family with an attorney who had been through the THSC Continuing Legal Education seminar on Protecting Innocent Families from CPS. He became the contact that dealt with CPS from this point on.

The effect of our letter was that the caseworker and supervisor immediately changed the way in which they were dealing with this family and dropped their demand to academically assess the children; the case was eventually closed. The commissioner of DFPS reported to me after having his staff investigate this matter that the claims made against the caseworker were in fact not made by the family.

This denial is not unusual. Anytime caseworkers are challenged they go into defense mode, and if the family has no evidence to support their version of events, the caseworkers simply deny the allegations. This is why we strongly recommend in our CPS Worker at the Door policy paper that all conversations with CPS caseworkers be recorded and all actions by them be documented.

A home school family in the Texas Panhandle who followed THSC guidelines were told by their attorney that he had never had a client so well prepared. When they went to court the judge rebuked the CPS caseworkers for not closing the matter and ordered them to take steps to do so immediately.

Being prepared and knowing how to deal with CPS is vital and can be the difference between an investigation that is relatively short and one that results in losing your children to CPS. Be prepared!

Comments

  1. Walter Schmidt says

    Tim, you left us “hanging”. What did the meeting with the two department heads have to do with the stories related in today’s posting? What was the outcome of your meeting with the two Department heads?

  2. MB says

    Tim, the fundamental issue that needs to be handled comes in the form of a declaratory challenge on a handful of critical issues, the first being the low evidentiary standard, anonymous reporting, and lack of findings in advance of removal of children. Until that happens, I predict that abuses by CPS here and throughout the country will only continue. The Texas legislature is fully capable of dealing with this, but if not, the next reasonable move is to bring a legal challenge to end this tyranny against parents once and for all.

  3. Tim Lambert says

    Walter, the commissioners agreed to update the policy noting that homeschooling is not relevant to an investigation of abuse/neglect and to incorporate that into policy so that caseworkers get this info during training. We also received assurance that home school families who were adopting children would get due consideration for a waiver to home school during the six month period before the adoption is final. We also raised the issue of cases that were “ruled out” and asked how the request to have that info removed by the family was handled. The agency will get that information to us so we can more effectively help parents make sure that happens. Finally, we raised the issue of how some of this information is still available if CPS presents it to a judge in “ex parte” hearings that the family is not notified about and not represented. Such information is available to the public and we discussed ways to change that.

  4. Tim Lambert says

    MB, CPS has been warned through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that they may NOT remove children without a court order and DFPS has adopted a policy to clarify that to all caseworkers. In fact, I was told last week that an attorney is filing a civil rights suit against CPS for just such an action and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about that soon.

  5. Gina says

    I just want to say that I work at a public elementary school, and I never want my child to go to a public school. All they worry about is teaching tests and 5 hundred diffrent documentation papers they have to have done by the end of the week. There are kids being pushed through the district that never learn how to read, including my own brother who dropped out because of the fustration of not being able to. Atleast I know that my child WILL be able to read. Not only that, but the kids are out of control, I had a 2nd grader threaten to kill me with a knife, I’ve been spit on, cussed out, kicked, and punched on sevral occasions. I’ve seen desks get flipped over on kids by angry kids, and they still think it is best for our kids to be in public school? That is crazy! My child will learn a lot more in the safty of my own home, and I won’t have to worry about him getting hurt durring the process. Also, I think it is strange that when you call CPS from a public school, CPS does nothing… but your going to take them away from people who want to teach their kids in a safe place?

  6. E Crews says

    We were told by CPS that we were not allowed to record any of our conversations with them, or when they interviewed our children. We did take extensive notes, & wrote everything down, but recording it would have been nice. Can you sight the “regulation” where it states that we are allowed to record our encounters with them?

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