Child Protective Services FAQ

At the Law Offices of Jennifer S. Goldman, P.L.L.C., we have decades of experience in family law, including Child Protective Services cases. Here are some questions that our clients commonly have regarding CPS and CPS investigations.

What should I do if I'm contacted by a CPS worker to talk about my child?

As distressing as this situation is, it is important that you are helpful and polite if a CPS worker contacts you. How you conduct yourself during the conversation could affect your case.

Listen carefully to the CPS worker, and show that you are concerned for your child. You may be tempted to try to guess about your answers to questions, or to speak more than you listen — but try to avoid doing this. Your conversation with the CPS worker is a time to get an understanding of the situation, and that requires listening and asking appropriate questions.

For example, if the CPS worker says something like, "We have some concerns about your child's welfare in the current living arrangement," or "It has been alleged that..." — you can ask the CPS worker for precise information about the investigation.

Do not, however, say that your child is lying or that you don't believe the CPS worker. And no matter what, do not lose your temper.

Instead, be prepared to explain why your home is a safe place for your child, and be prepared to provide the names of people who can give positive references for you and your family.

When the conversation appears to be ending, it is a good idea to ask the CPS worker to summarize his or her findings and whatever actions he or she plans to take.

If you haven't done so already, contact a family law attorney after you talk to the CPS worker.

What should I do if CPS has asked me to sign a Safety Plan?

CPS may tell you that, in order to keep your child in your home, you have to sign a Safety Plan. Essentially, a Safety Plan provides instructions that you have to follow. For example, the Safety Plan might say that you must participate in counseling or that an alleged abuser must be removed from the home. If you are unable to follow the Safety Plan, there is a risk that your child will be removed.

It is very important that you understand exactly what the Safety Plan instructs you to do — or not to do. It is also very important that you and CPS have the same understanding about the requirements of the Safety Plan. Unfortunately, misunderstandings about the Safety Plan requirements lead to the removal of many children.

Before you sign the Safety Plan, it is a good idea to go over it with a lawyer first. For example, a Safety Plan without an expiration date could put your parental rights at risk indefinitely, and a family law attorney can explain your options for having the plan changed so that it includes an expiration date.

What should I do if my child has been placed into foster care after an Emergency Removal?

The first thing to do is to try to think clearly. This is an extremely difficult time, but try to focus on what needs to be done. You can ask the CPS worker exactly why your child was placed into foster care. In general, try to get as much information as possible about why the Emergency Removal happened.

Be helpful and try not to express too much anger. Again, show that you are concerned for your child. You can tell the CPS worker about any special needs your child might have, or any medications your child needs, or anything your child likes or dislikes. If appropriate, you can suggest to the CPS worker that someone else in your family could have temporary custody of your child. You can also try to arrange for your child to get his or her clothing, toys and other possessions to make the time in foster care feel more secure.

Also, be sure to ask to visit your child. In many cases, you as a parent are allowed a weekly visit while your child is in foster care.

Contact our office in Dallas if you have questions or concerns about any of these matters.

Is it a good idea to have a lawyer present when I meet with CPS?

The answer to this question really depends on the lawyer. There are many good attorneys who do not regularly handle CPS cases, and a lawyer who is not used to dealing with CPS could actually hurt your case.

To protect your parental rights and your child's best interests, work with a family law attorney who is experienced in CPS cases. A CPS lawyer can give you honest answers and help minimize the risk of your child being placed into foster care.

The Law Offices Of Jennifer S. Goldman, P.L.L.C.

For a consultation with an experienced CPS lawyer, call our office in Dallas at 469-522-3269. We are here to help.