How do you know what CPS will decide?

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SnowBall
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:57 pm

How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby SnowBall » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:19 pm

I'm doing some research for a friend who has a CPS case. She was positive for drugs when giving birth. This was in May. She also has mental health issues. It's her first baby. It went to kinship foster care.

She agreed a case plan. This includes: rehab, drug test, meds for her metal health issues, therapy, AA/NA meeting and parenting classes. She also has baby visits. She worked on all items of the case plan ASAP and all drug test have been clean since giving birth (more than3 months). Her metal issues seem to be much improved. So basically she is doing everything she can and in a timely manner. He counselors at rehab are happy with her progress.

She is working her case plan perfectly and really trying, but I worry that CPS may say they don't want her to have the baby. I don't know why they would say that, but then I don't know what power they have to keep a child out of custody of a mother that follows their case plans. Is this going to be like a contest between the kinship foster parent and the mother?

I'm looking for any suggestion on what she can do to avoid losing her baby, beyond just following the case plan. Should she hire a lawyer to review the CPS files or any reports that CPS gets? I believe that she has the ability to be a good mother, so it would be very upsetting to lose the baby, when she is fighting hard not to.

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LindaJM
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Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby LindaJM » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:52 am

So, it sounds like the mother agreed to a "safety plan" and didn't go to court. If she had, she probably would have a court appointed lawyer.

Yes, having a lawyer is always a good idea when there's any CPS involvement.

It is impossible for me to know what CPS will decide, because every case is different, social workers have different ideas, and states have unique regulations and guidelines.

In general, I've noticed that drug users (in recovery) will usually get their children back, if this is the first time CPS was involved.

This mother should keep records of what she does in a notebook plus collect documentary evidence that she's completed the case plan. That information and evidence will help a lawyer in case this goes to court.
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Please keep in mind that none of us are lawyers and we can't give legal advice. We are simply telling you what we would do in a similar situation. It is to your advantage to get a lawyer.

"Evil flourishes when good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke ... so try to do something to change the system ...

SnowBall
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:57 pm

Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby SnowBall » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:23 am

Hi Linda,

Thanks for the reply. She agreed to a case plan, which must be the same thing as a safety plan. She didn't go to trial and I told her it would be best not to, because if there is obvious evidence against her (like a drug test, her admittance to using and a previous possession charge) then it would be an unproductive thing to fight it. She really needed help and was willing to get it.

She does have a public defender. They are virtually non responsive to voicemails. She has a lawyer in name only, not one that is available to discuss the case. The lawyer will show us literally a few mins before court and talk them. There's not even notice from the lawyer that they plan on being there before court to talk.

The common answer I get when asking about her case to the counselor or manager or the rehab (who support unification) is that every case is different. They don't give any concrete answer, like if the mom does x, then y happens. Most questions result in vague non answers. What can a private lawyer do? Can the pull the CPS files and make sure everything is in order and CPS hasn't put anything inaccurate in them? Is that something to be concerned about? Does it even matter what the law says or does come down to the opinion of the social worker?

She had her baby visits increased, but there is always an excuse as to why the increase gets delayed, like transportation issues or it's too hard for the baby to travel 30 min in a car. They are getting increased, but this is 2 months later than they were ordered to increase. I just get the feeling that CPS is dragging out the compliance with the visits, because they want to use that as a reason to delay reunification, because the baby has bonded with the foster parent or they need more time to phase in the increased visits. But that is a CPS created problem. If visits were increased without delay, that wouldn't be an issue. I don't know if I'm being paranoid, but really how hard is it to get a baby from point A to point B, 20 miles apart? It's frustrating, because simple tasks become difficult, when it comes to things anyone besides the Mom is asked to do. It comes off as passive aggressive to me. Like sure you can have more visits, but were going to take several weeks to figure out how that will happen.

whosechildrenarethey
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Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby whosechildrenarethey » Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:41 pm

Here is a link your friend may find helpful on how to go about getting her records from CPS: http://familyrights.us/how_to/get_your_records/

Without knowing what State this is happening in, general information is all that can be offered. All Court Appointed Attorney's basically operate precisely as you describe. They are known for not returning phone calls or emails, not meeting with their clients until 5 minutes before their hearing is to begin, and for basically not being much help at all. It always appeared and felt to me like they worked for the other side.

Generally speaking, the way Dependency cases work is that because your friend voluntarily signed CPS Safety Plan, she has stipulated to her admittance to their allegations against her. I would check on the State Specific guidelines for reporting abuse/neglect to the Central Registry in the State this is happening in so that your friend can find out if she is on that Registry. You have mentioned being in court. Your friend can obtain copies of the Petition, if there was one, and the courts orders following each hearing from her clerk of courts. Has your friend received a letter from CPS wherein they advise her they have substantiated the allegations against her?

Basically, if the Judge has ordered increased visitations, CPS must comply or a motion to show cause can be filed to bring the issue before the Judge/Court requiring CPS to show cause as to why they are not following the courts orders regarding visitation. This is something your friends attorney should be doing...

SnowBall
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Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby SnowBall » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:52 pm

Thanks Woeschildrenarethey. I made an appointment with a private lawyer, but at that time, the rehab wouldn't let her go. They said she had to wait a month due to their rules about leaving the rehab. I'm going talk to her about setting up another consult with a lawyer in the next couple weeks.

I don't know if she got a letter about substantiated charges. She'll bring all papers when we meet with a lawyer. I have very little idea about how CPS works, so it's hard to know what to ask about. That's why a lawyer is necessary.

I'm super irritated that CPS didn't comply with court ordered increased visitations. CPS claimed that there wasn't transportation available. No alternatives were offered. It took about 2 months for them to come up with the idea of having one longer instead of 2 shorter visits. It's one thing to not have the resources to do transportation, but another to wait 2 months to attempt to remedy it with a longer visit. Is there any recourse for this? Should the judge be made aware of this, in case it is used against the mom during the 6 month review, for example if CPS claims bonding issues with the foster parents as a reason against reunification.

SnowBall
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:57 pm

Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby SnowBall » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:01 pm

One more general question:

How much influence does any one person have when the judge decides for or against reunification?

It sounds like there are several people that will give input including the social worker, drug court specialist, therapist, psychiatrist, rehab counselor. I am a little worried that there will be one or more people (just by chance, depending on personality or bias) that will be anti-reunification. That's considering that the parent works the case plan, test clean and generally behaves.

heavyaaron
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Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby heavyaaron » Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:23 pm

SnowBall wrote:I'm super irritated that CPS didn't comply with court ordered increased visitations. CPS claimed that there wasn't transportation available.


Transportation here is atrocious. As such we do whatever we can to arrange other forms of transportation that are more available and dependable. I don't know where you are, but here transportation is hired out to (private) third parties. Hypothetically they answer to the state; CPS has no charge of them. Frequently CPS is as frustrated by them as we are - so I tend to believe transportation may be an actual reason, not an excuse, for your troubles.

As I said, we work around it. For visits we find it best when a case aid or the visit supervisor can provide the transportation. This reduces the number of people involved in the kids' lives; provides consistency from one week to the next (transportation drivers are rarely the same twice), and most of all is dependable. From your position perhaps this is a bit of irony, but that often means choosing CPS over a third party; but as long as you are not rabidly anti-CPS you might suggest it if the case-aid or visit supervisor is available to provide the transportation.

As another alternative, if you've been cleared, perhaps you could provide the transportation. After all, you implied that it is easy "to get a baby from point A to point B, 20 miles apart" and you would be saving the taxpayers the cost of transportation that we are presently providing free of charge.

whosechildrenarethey
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:00 pm

Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby whosechildrenarethey » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:12 pm

Regarding an involuntary termination of parental rights each state is different because each states statutes are different. Here is a link that will take you to state specific voluntary/involuntary TPR statutes...
https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide ... termin.pdf

Your friend did a very foolish and careless thing. She exposed her unborn child to some form of an illegal substance/s and she's in this until she can redeem herself. Likely she's a young first time Mom who has learned her lesson and gotten her priorities straight, still she's going to have to jump through CPS's hoops to prove it. Aside from her remaining substance free and successfully completing all her tasks in the Case Plan, the court will want to know that she is stable (in her mind and in her finances, her living arrangements, employment etc... It isn't enough to be substance free, she will want to demonstrate she is also willing and able to adequately provide for her child.

The way it is supposed to work is that since reunification was set as the goal in the Case Plan, so long as she stays clean, completes all of her tasks on her case plan, visits her child as often as allowed and documents why weeks went by without visits, and can demonstrate her willingness and ability to provide a stable and loving home for her child, the child should then be returned to her with CPS retaining actual legal custody for the next six months.

Having said that, it's true that any number of things can go wrong and no one can predict how your friends case will be decided. Dependency court is there to ensure the safety and best interest of the child - and that statement alone perfectly demonstrates the subjective nature of Dependency court. Your friend is fortunate to have relatives to care for her infant while she works her case plan. Will the relatives not assist your friend in effecting her visitations?

SnowBall
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:57 pm

Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby SnowBall » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:45 pm

heavyaaron wrote:
As another alternative, if you've been cleared, perhaps you could provide the transportation. After all, you implied that it is easy "to get a baby from point A to point B, 20 miles apart" and you would be saving the taxpayers the cost of transportation that we are presently providing free of charge.


I may be doing some transportation, by taking the mom to the baby. I need to give the social worker a call in the next couple days to let her know I can do that. It's been passed on to me that that idea has been discussed, but I need to speak with her directly. I did supervise a few baby visits, because they were done on weekends, and that was a couple months ago at a rehab she was at waiting for a spot to open up at the mom and baby rehab.

SnowBall
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:57 pm

Re: How do you know what CPS will decide?

Postby SnowBall » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:58 pm

whosechildrenarethey wrote:Regarding an involuntary termination of parental rights each state is different because each states statutes are different. Here is a link that will take you to state specific voluntary/involuntary TPR statutes...
https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide ... termin.pdf

Your friend did a very foolish and careless thing. She exposed her unborn child to some form of an illegal substance/s and she's in this until she can redeem herself. Likely she's a young first time Mom who has learned her lesson and gotten her priorities straight, still she's going to have to jump through CPS's hoops to prove it. Aside from her remaining substance free and successfully completing all her tasks in the Case Plan, the court will want to know that she is stable (in her mind and in her finances, her living arrangements, employment etc... It isn't enough to be substance free, she will want to demonstrate she is also willing and able to adequately provide for her child.

The way it is supposed to work is that since reunification was set as the goal in the Case Plan, so long as she stays clean, completes all of her tasks on her case plan, visits her child as often as allowed and documents why weeks went by without visits, and can demonstrate her willingness and ability to provide a stable and loving home for her child, the child should then be returned to her with CPS retaining actual legal custody for the next six months.

Having said that, it's true that any number of things can go wrong and no one can predict how your friends case will be decided. Dependency court is there to ensure the safety and best interest of the child - and that statement alone perfectly demonstrates the subjective nature of Dependency court. Your friend is fortunate to have relatives to care for her infant while she works her case plan. Will the relatives not assist your friend in effecting her visitations?


Thanks for your response. I don't have any issues with a mother having to jump through a lot of hoops to prove she is committed to doing what is best for the baby. I realize it would be impossible for her to care for the baby without getting help for her issues.

What is difficult for me, is the lack of knowledge about how CPS works and what the laws are. I'm going see a lawyer, hopefully in the next week or two, because my worries are in not knowing the answers. I wouldn't want to see someone who is trying to get their baby back, but can't due a mistake made by being ignorant of the law.

The relatives have assisted in transportation, but recently have not been able to, due to work schedule and a temporary medical issue.


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