Child Protective Services (CPS) is an agency under the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) that focuses on the safety and well-being of children. Its mission is to protect children from abuse and neglect through investigations, family support services, foster care, and adoption.
Caseworkers from Child Protective Services investigate reported claims of abuse or neglect. These may be reported anonymously by anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being subject to abuse, neglect, exploitation, or otherwise in danger.
The State of Texas has both civil and criminal laws in place to protect children from neglect and abuse. A person who knows the child’s mistreatment is required to report it to the state, particularly those who deal with children, such as teachers and doctors. The person reporting the abuse in good faith is immune to civil or criminal liability, and their name and identity are kept confidential. False reporting is punishable by law, and as of September 1, 2023, anonymous reporting is no longer accepted.
If you suspect that a child needs help, you can call the DFPS at 1-800-252-5400 or use their secure website. In the Fort Worth/Tarrant County area, CPS and DFPS have an office at 7450 John T White, Fort Worth, TX 76120, and can be reached at 817-563-3800. The second office is located at 2700 Ben Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76103, and can be reached at 817-255-8700.
How CPS Handles Cases
Following a report of abuse to the DFPS, CPS will assign a caseworker to investigate the case. This investigation includes a home visit, interviews with children, examination of medical records, and other investigative activity. The purpose is a risk assessment to determine whether the child is in any danger in the home. There are three levels of priority, with the third level being “no priority” unless additional reports are made.
The assigned caseworker then investigates the home, and the family, and interviews the children and individual family members, along with teachers and others who know the family. The purpose is to determine if the child or children have been subjected to abuse or neglect, and if there is any danger to them. The process can take 45 days or longer.
If CPS determines that there is no danger, the child may remain in the home. If not, CPS will take steps to remove the child either temporarily into foster care, or permanently if warranted.
If Child Protective Services Visits
For someone surprised by a CPS caseworker unexpectedly appearing, they may be unsure what to do next. CPS will not tell you who made the allegations, and request entry to the home. Texas Home School Coalition offers this advice on how to handle a visit from CPS, which includes contacting your attorney.
A parent does have rights when dealing with CPS, but a caseworker won’t always tell you what they are, such as your right to an attorney. The court is supposed to provide one, but in most cases, doesn’t. That leaves parents to hire their attorney to represent them in court and work to have their children returned home. Parents also have the right to be heard in court.
Get Help With Child Support And Other Family Law Matters
For more than 20 years, Wendy L. Hart has been a family law attorney helping people throughout Tarrant County, Texas with the various practice areas of family law including divorce, adoption, and custody. She understands that family law matters affect the entire family, including a visit from CPS. That’s why it is important to have an experienced family law attorney who will treat your case with the utmost respect and confidentiality. Schedule your appointment with our online contact form, or call us at (817) 842-2336. We’re ready to help.