Child Protective Services Article 3 of 7: Family Based Safety Services Phase
This article provides information on the investigation phase when dealing with Child Protective Services. This article was written by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and the CPS Family Helpline for Strong Families & Safe Children.
Family Based Safety Services or FBSS is an alternative to a legal removal of the child from a person’s possession and care. It may involve voluntarily placing the child with family or someone you trust until such time as safety concerns have been resolved but does not always require the child be placed away from a parent or guardian’s home.
Once the investigation is completed, if it is determined that the case is appropriate for FBSS, the case should be immediately transferred to a new caseworker in the FBSS unit. Once transferred and assigned, the new caseworker should schedule an in-person meeting with each person receiving services, each parent with a known location, and any caregivers for the child within 10 days. DFPS may offer the family a Family Team Meeting or FTM where all parties and interested family come together to discuss the concerns and goals.
If you are unsuccessful in completing the FBSS process, your case may be re-evaluated for formal legal removal. Fully participating in the FBSS process may help avoid a formal legal removal of your child. If you have a question about whether a plan of service is reasonable, you may want to consult a licensed attorney. Further, if you refuse to participate in the FBSS process, DFPS may seek a court order to remove your child from you.
A plan of service is a voluntary agreement between a parent or caregiver, and DFPS. According to the DFPS handbook, a written plan of service should be developed within 21 days after the FBSS case has been opened unless the DFPS supervisor has approved an exception.
The plan of service should detail, among other things, why DFPS is involved, what tasks must be completed, how the requested action will help alleviate concerns of abuse or neglect, how to complete the requested actions, and how your progress will be evaluated. Once completed, the caseworker will ask the parent or caregiver to sign the agreement and provide you with a copy of the plan. A parent may refuse to sign the plan of service; however, this may result in the child being removed by DFPS. Texas law requires that the plan be reviewed when significant changes occur and at least every six months. However, DFPS regulations require the assigned caseworker and supervisor review the plan of service at least one time every month.
Under certain circumstances the caseworker may request additional time for the family to complete the requested services. The DFPS caseworker should submit a case for closure when services are no longer needed to ensure child safety or formal removal becomes necessary.
At least 10 days before submitting a case for closure, a DFPS caseworker should conduct a home visit at the child’s home and make face to face contact with everyone who has a plan of service.
If the case is closed after the FBSS stage, the DFPS caseworker should send a case closure letter to any individual that received services during the FBSS case within 15 calendar days. If concerns regarding the safety and welfare of the child remain, DFPS might request Temporary Managing Conservatorship of the child and the case may be transferred to the DFPS Conservatorship Unit.