How Texas CPS stacks the Deck

Is the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (“CPS”) only concerned with the protection of children, or does the Agency enter into alliances with foster families that deprive children the opportunity for placement with other family members?

Does Texas CPS Play Favorites?

Consider the following scenario. Baby Joe is born in 2009 and immediately removed from his mother’s care by Dallas County Child Protective Services. Joe’s mother, Jane, has previously given birth to another child, Jessica. Jane placed Jessica for adoption with the Smith family in 2004. Mr. and Mrs. Smith live with Jessica in New York.

When CPS removed Joe and placed him into foster care, CPS workers were informed that Joe had a sister who had been previously adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Ms. Smith, having remained in contact with Jane over the years, knew of the CPS removal and told the CPS worker she and her husband wished to be considered for placement.

Because the Smiths live in New York, there must be compliance with ICPC (Interstate Compact on Placement of Children). To place Joe with his sister, the CPS worker should have taken the steps necessary to secure approval of the placement by ICPC.

Are Foster Parents Mere “Employees” or Prospective Adoptive Parents?

Meanwhile, little Joe has been placed by CPS in a foster home where he is adjusting and doing well. The foster home is what is referred to as a “dual licensed” home, meaning if the foster family becomes attached to Joe and parental rights are terminated, they can adopt Joe.

Child Protection Or Family Selection?The foster parents see the CPS worker once a week, they tell the worker they are attached to Joe, and they begin to ask if Jane’s parental rights are going to be terminated. The CPS worker, being human, forms a friendship with the foster parents and begins to hope they emerge from the case with Joe in their custody.

What about Family?

The Smiths wait anxiously for follow-up from the Texas CPS worker, but there is never a call. In fact, the CPS worker becomes evasive when pressed for information; she has made up her mind where the child should live and never initiates the required homestudy on the Smith home.

Nearly six months after little Joe has been placed into foster care, the Smiths realize they have been misled and hire Texas CPS lawyers to intervene for custody.

Anatomy of a CPS Trial

Ten months after Joe was removed from his mother and placed into state foster care, the case goes to trial. Jane, realizing she cannot overcome her mental illness and care for the child, relinquishes her parental rights. Mr. and Mrs. Smith appear before the Court with their Texas CPS attorneys. CPS appears with their government lawyers.

CPS argues that Joe has been in the same foster home for ten months, he is happy and the foster parents wish to adopt. The caseworker goes on to state Joe would be traumatized to leave the foster home he has known for almost a year.

The Smiths appear with their Texas CPS attorney and argue little Joe has much to gain by being raised with his biological sister. This would give Joe some link to his biological family going forward and the two siblings would have a shared family history. Also testifying was a psychologist hired by the Smiths who testified transitioning Joe from his current foster home would cause no long term psychological damage and that all adopted children desire, at some point, to have knowledge of their family of origin.

The Tarrant County CPS court ruled in favor of CPS, ignoring even the recommendation of Joe’s attorney ad litem. Simply put, the Court sided with the status quo – – a reality created by Texas CPS and their fondness for Joe’s foster family.

Lessons Learned

If you are related to a child in the Texas foster care system due to a CPS removal, you must act both quickly and independently to preserve your rights. CPS does not represent you and has absolutely no obligation to you. They can tell you something one day and do the complete opposite the next. Decision making within CPS follows no rules. Instead decisions are made subjectively and often randomly, depending on the particular persons involved in the process.

At Schreier & Housewirth Family Law, we have spent over 20 years helping families in Tarrant, Dallas, Parker, Johnson and Hood County, Texas maintain their family ties. Gregory L. Housewirth and Holly J. Schreier are recognized across all of north Texas as to “go to” lawyers in defending child abuse or neglect cases brought by Texas CPS.