In the State of Texas, if a citizen suspects a child is being neglected or abused, it is that citizen’s obligation to report his or her suspicion to Child Protective Services (CPS), which is a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). These reports are investigated by Child Protection Investigations (CPI), and it is their job to investigate the matter, to determine if abuse or neglect is an issue, and to identify any threats to the child’s safety in the home.
CPS fulfills many general in-home family services, including all of the following:
Providing Family-Based Safety Services
Placing children in foster care
Helping minors in foster care successfully transition to adulthood
CPI, during its investigative process, typically interviews the adults in the home – and anyone else who may have credible knowledge about the situation. Those who are commonly interviewed by CPI include:
The child in question
The child’s parents
The child’s teachers and care providers
The child’s doctors
The child’s relatives
The child’s neighbors and family friends
In addition to extensive interviews, CPI will visit the family home to help the investigator obtain a clearer view regarding the credibility of the initial report.
After CPI completes its investigation, the next step depends upon its findings. If the initial report is determined to lack credibility, the case will be dismissed, and the family will be notified of the dismissal in a letter. If the report’s credibility is verified, CPS can proceed in a variety of ways (depending upon the unique situation and circumstances), but one common approach is with Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS).
The purpose behind FBSS is to help ensure the safety of the children who are in the home and to help make the children’s return to the home (after removal) possible. The main goal of FBSS is to provide those in-home services that help reduce the risk that children will be neglected or abused moving forward. If the situation is dire, CPS can remove the child from the home – or request that the court issue a removal.
Who Does the Reporting?
Reports of child neglect and abuse make their way to CPS in a variety of ways, but the most common include:
Law enforcement initiates an investigation after a domestic violence call
A mandatory reporter makes a call to DFPS
A call is made to the Texas Abuse Hotline (a free state-wide hotline – which includes an online reporting option – that anyone who is concerned about a child or who suspects child abuse or neglect can use)