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!