Who is Child Protective Services and What is its Purpose?
This month’s Wichita Falls Family Law Podcast with Richard Sutherland focuses on Child Protective Services (CPS) and provides an overview of key elements of the purpose of the agency and what to do when Child Protective Services calls.
Questions Answered in this Child Protective Services Podcast
- What is Child Protective Services?
- What is the purpose of CPS?
- What is meant by the word, “abuse” and what is “neglect?”
- What is the general process of CPS reporting?
- What is involved in the investigation process?
- Why people hire attorneys and how they represent parents in CPS cases?
Highlights of this CPS Overview Podcast
About Child Protective Services: CPS is a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the agency investigating reports of abused or neglected children in Texas. There are 13 categories of what constitutes abuse and four categories for neglect under Texas law. Note that accidents and reasonable discipline not exposing the child to the risk of substantial harm are excluded from the definition of abuse in Texas.
Who makes CPS reports? The Texas Family Code requires any person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect SHALL IMMEDIATELY MAKE A REPORT. This requirement includes people with whom certain communications are otherwise privileged such as:
- Medical Practitioners
- Social Workers
- Mental Health Professionals
- Employees or members of boards that license or certify professionals;
- Employees of clinics or health care facilities that provide reproductive services.
About the CPS Report: The report should include the reporting party’s belief that a child has been abused or neglected or who has died of abuse or neglect, and the report can be made to law enforcement, CPS or state agencies regulating a facility where alleged abuse or neglect occurred. The reports contain the name and address of the child and other persons responsible for the care of the child and other pertinent information.
About the CPS Investigation Process: Being prepared in the event CPS or law enforcement contacts you about a report of abuse or neglect is important. Contacting an attorney is advisable and it does not mean you look guilty. There are a variety of steps involved in a CPS investigation and interviews of the child may take place at school or at home, including persons CPS determines are necessary to be present.
Important Takeaways: A CPS complaint can arise in a variety of settings such as one spouse in a divorce making complaints of the other to try and improve their chances of getting sole custody or a larger share of the marital estate. There is protection for people who are wrongfully accused. CPS is duty bound to investigate all complaints to protect the interests of children. Being organized and having an experienced family law attorney is important.
In the next podcast in this series we will talk about suits brought by governmental entities to protect the child.
Richard T. Sutherland is an experienced Wichita Falls, Texas divorce and family law attorney. If you need to learn more about what to do when Child Protective Services calls, or any other matter involving the best interests of and care of children, call us at (940) 691-2100 or contact us through our website.