HELP! CPS wants me to sign a Child Safety and Evaluation Plan.
Imagine the following scenario:
Your son is sick with a severe cough and flu like symptoms. You take him to the doctor’s office, which then refers you to the children’s hospital because it looks to them like your child might have pneumonia. You want to do anything you can to help your child and so you rush them to the hospital. Your child is taken in for a chest x-ray, and within the hour you are asked by a person identifying herself as a child abuse doctor to come with her to answer a few questions. This abuse doctor tells you she works at the hospital and has looked at your child’s x-rays, and that your child has broken ribs. The abuse doctor asks you how they were broken. You tell her you do not know. The doctor says that your son is too young to have done this to himself, so you must explain how this child was injured.
You have no answer. The doctor calls it abuse and notifies Child Protective Services (CPS) who shows up within the hour. CPS tells you that you either sign a
Child Safety and Evaluation Plan, or they will take your son and put him in foster care. CPS tells you it is not a good idea to call a lawyer, and will only look bad for you if you do. CPS tells you, if you sign this document they will allow your son to stay at your parent’s house and this will all last only a month, while they investigate the case.
You are scared and cannot imagine your child being placed in foster care, so you sign the document. Now you officially have CPS in your life indefinitely.
This is a very real scenario that plays out every day in and around the Houston area. I have been handling CPS cases for well over a decade, and have heard hundreds of these types of stories about how people were pressured to sign the “Voluntary” Safety Plans in order to keep their kids out of foster care. What CPS does not tell you is that if they take your child from you, they have a very high burden to explain to the judge about why they took the child without asking the judge first.
So what happens after you sign this document?
First let me say that CPS loves to use these “Safety” plans. Although CPS usually writes on them they are only good for a month, CPS will actually expect you to follow them for much longer. You have to pay attention to the language that states that by signing this agreement, the parents agree to complete all services listed on the plan. The services that CPS recommends will almost never be able to be completed in the month time frame that is initially explained to the parents.
I have had clients come to me in desperation after 6 months have passed and they have cooperated fully, and yet CPS still has not returned their child to them under these plans. The reason CPS prefers to use these plans is because CPS are the only ones that can modify or terminate them. They control all the terms of the plan and the end date. CPS tries to use the threat of going to court to coerce you to sign it, but what they do not tell you is that court is the BEST place you can go.
If you are in court, armed with an experienced lawyer, you get put CPS on trial as to why they are keeping you from your child. You get to make the CPS caseworker and the supervisor answer all of your questions. You get to have a judge listen to both sides of the story and determine who is right. CPS will not tell you that their burden in court to keep your kids away from you is very high. CPS does not want your case in court; they do not want you questioning their tactics or their plans. CPS wants you to sign the “Safety Plan.”
CPS law is a very specific area of the law. Just because a lawyer practices family law, or is even Board Certified in family law, does not mean they know how to fight your CPS case. When you are hiring a CPS lawyer, you need to know whether your lawyer is familiar with Texas Family Code section 262.201. If you ask a potential attorney what this code provision is, and they cannot immediately tell you what that section covers and how you can use it to beat CPS, they are not well versed in defending a CPS case.
I take great pride in defending people wrongfully accused of abusing their children all over the State of Texas. I also have been very successful in not only having children returned to their parents, but also having CPS punished when they break the law. You can read about
my results in the Miller case here.
If you have been called down to speak with CPS at their office or presented with a Child Safety and Evaluation Plan to sign and want to hire an exoerienced and successful Houston Texas CPS defense attorney, please call or email me
As Soon As Possible so I can begin helping you immediately.