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The role of CPS in Texas

Child Protective Services is a program that conducts investigations when allegations are made that the parents, relatives or members of a household have abused or neglected a child. Sometimes, the caseworker refers the individual of concern to services such as counseling and classes that could help them resolve their issues and understand how to take care of and punish the child through non-harmful methods.

During the investigation of CPS cases, the caregivers of the children are informed of any abuse or neglect risks, injuries or safety concerns. The caseworkers then interview the allegedly abused or neglected children and record the interview via audio tape or video camera. The caregivers of the children are notified of the interview 24 hours beforehand if possible. Other children who live in the homes could be interviewed and visually examined for indications of neglect or physical abuse. The caseworkers might also interview other people who have allegedly abused or neglected the children and others who know about the issue. If needed, the mental health records of anyone involved could be accessed.

A CPS investigation typically takes 30 days. During that time, the goal of the caseworker is to determine whether the child is being abused or neglected, if there is potential for future incidents and whether the child is safe. When the circumstances are unsafe for the child, the caseworker determines the services that the accused individual needs or decides if the child should be removed from the situation. A supervisor has to approve these decisions.

CPS caseworkers are also required to tell authorities about all abuse or neglect reports that they receive. The decision to conduct a criminal probe is left up to those authorities and does not become part of the CPS investigation. While many caregivers cooperate with CPS caseworkers, others do not. When this happens, the CPS caregiver could petition for a court order to obtain permission to interview and medically examine the child, acquire health records and visit the home.

Source: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, "Investigations", October 27, 2014

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