This is a summary I wrote up about how a case works. For the exact laws and rules/procedures, read the Guidelines on the TDPRS website (for Texas) or the guidelines for your specific state which should be available for your information at your state’s Health and Human Services website. The following is simply a summary outlining generally the way a case works, specifics may differ from state to state. I am not an attorney and this is not to be construed as legal advice to follow in your specific case, for assistance with a specific case, contact an attorney licensed to practice law in your area who can assist you.
What are Referrals?
When a call or report of abuse/neglect comes in, it is assigned a certain priority level;. Depending on the level of priority it is assigned. The allegation and amount of imminent danger the child may be in determines the level of priority.
A REFERRAL IS THE REPORT OF AN ALLEGATION of ABUSE and/or NEGLECT.
A REFERRAL DOES NOT MEAN THE ALLEGATION IS TRUE
To the contrary, only about 25% of allegations are substantiated, which means approximately 3 out of 4 reports that come in are false or unsubstantiated allegations of abuse and/or neglect.
Anyone can call in a referral on anyone else. It can even be done anonymously.
It is common to have referrals come in that are based on misinformation, misunderstandings, or reported with malice, spiteful intent, and based on lies and deceit.
Of course, there are good faith reports that are made when someone truly believes a child is being abused or neglected. Those are the reports that are supposed to be called in.
Often times couples in custody battles call in referrals and make allegations. These are spite referrals which are the most damaging to the children.
Every referral must be assigned a priority and looked into, to determine whether or not further investigation is needed.
An investigator is assigned, and he case is looked at by the investigator in the following (usually six weeks) period of time. Sometimes the children remain in the home, other times they are removed.
During that time the child is interviewed, parents, school teachers, friends, family, and a determination is made by the investigator whether or not abuse/neglect occurred.
If it is determined that it did occur or that the child is at risk of it occurring, the parents are placed into “services” they must complete over (usually) an 18 month period of time. Services include counseling, drug treatment, parenting classes, etc., and if they complete those services. Parents must prove to the court that they have met certain requirements of a ‘family service plan’ before they get their children back if the children are removed from their care and placed into a foster home.
Part of that plan includes several court dates, PPT Staffings (meetings with CPS to determine the status of the case), visits with the child (if the child is removed from the home), and classes, therapy sessions, drug test screenings, rehab, and other services. Sometimes the parent is required to find better housing, a better job, remove a spouse or partner from the home if that spouse/partner is found to be a danger to the child. It is even common to have CPS tell you to get divorced if you want your children back, or break up with your lover. They have parents jumping through hoops, and sometimes even that is not enough.
It sounds like a good system (on paper), but upon deeper examination you realize how many children are placed into the foster homes when the allegations are not substantiated. Sometimes this is because the children were removed early on ‘just in case’. When that happens, the trauma to the child and family is indescribable.
The involvement of CPS in the household is extraordinarily stressful, often devastating. Parents lose jobs, socially they are scrutinized by those they associate with, reputations are ruined, family bonds are often severed, and lives torn apart. Nervous breakdowns and even suicide has been known to be the result of these cases.
In cases where the child did not need to be removed, but was, OR when the unthinkable happens and that child is then abused in the foster care system that he wasn’t even supposed to be in to begin with – the results can be absolutely devastating.
So with stakes so high, in order to keep from destroying children’s’ lives, the CPS workers should be held accountable at the very least, wouldn’t you think? Accountability in CPS is a joke.
There are laws that make the workers not liable in many cases, that protect them against being held accountable in the court of law. This is not only frustrating, but it opens up a whole new arena for parents to take matters into their own hands, placing the workers at risk. It also leaves room for the workers to mishandle cases, placing families and children at risk.
In order to ensure that they are not deliberately hiding facts, concealing items of evidence that would otherwise change the entire scope of an investigation or case, that the children’s placement in foster care may not be what was best after all, or done by mistake, or inappropriately. Rather than admit to the mistakes these caseworkers often cover their mistakes by backdating, moving the children, or sometimes downright lying in order to fill in the gaps. At the children’s expense – how much is a worker’s mistake costing us? Its costing us in our children’s lives – which is UTD unable to determine – in terms of $$ or placing worth on our childrens’ lives.
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF CALLING CPS TO GET BACK AT YOUR EX- PLEASE DON’T!
IF YOU WANT TO CALL CPS TO GAIN STANDING IN A CUSTODY CASE PLEASE DON’T!
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF REPORTING FOR ANY REASON OTHER THAN IN GOOD FAITH… DO NOT DO IT!
ONLY CONSIDER CALLING IN A REPORT BECAUSE YOU TRULY BELIEVE A CHILD IS BEING ABUSED OR NEGLECTED!
FALSE ALLEGATIONS ARE A CRIME IN MOST STATES!
FALSE REPORTING HARMS THE CHILDREN MORE THAN IT HARMS THE ADULTS! MANY TIMES IT BACKFIRES AND PARENTS LOSE THEIR KIDS AFTER MAKING A REPORT AGAINST THE OTHER PARENT IN BAD FAITH.
SEEK COUNSELING, THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY OR TALK TO YOUR PRIEST.
FIND A FRIEND TO LEAN ON, OR TAKE A HOT BATH, RELAX AND SEE A MOVIE.
WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION.
YOUR KIDS WILL THANK YOU FOR NOT RUINING THEIR LIVES BECAUSE YOU ARE ANGRY.
MANY ABUSED KIDS WILL BE GLAD OU DIDN’T WASTE THE TIME OF A WORKER WHO COULD’VE HELPED THEM.