Families matter, and every day they are threatened by entities that operate in the shadows and without accountability.
Because family and freedom should come first, we have filed a Child Protective Services (CPS) bill that, if passed, will enforce greater accountability standards on CPS. While CPS plays a necessary role in society, they all too often function with an egregious lack of accountability.
This omnibus bill was filed by Rep. James Frank as HB 730. It packages together several measures into one bill, making it an effective tool to bring about the greatest possible change. This bill will tackle five key issues.
- Hidden Foster System – In Texas, CPS has a process known as a “Parent-Child Safety Placement” (PCSP), known inside the legislature as the “hidden foster care system.” Under a PCSP, CPS tells families to “voluntarily” place their children in another household under threat of CPS taking the family to court. Families often comply to avoid losing their children. No law authorizes the PCSP program, no outside regulatory body tracks it, and no due process protections exist in the program. Some legislators estimate that if you counted the number of children taken from their homes under the PCSP program, it would double the size of the foster care system in Texas. The bill places limits on the duration and usage of PCSP removals and requires tracking and reporting on the program.
- Notification of Rights – Next, this bill would require CPS to provide written and verbal notification of parental rights to parents, such as the parent’s right to an attorney and their right to record the interaction. In the example of the Pardo Case, these rights played a critical role when the family’s recorded interaction with CPS drew national attention to their case as the country watched CPS forcibly remove the family’s four-year-old son, Drake, from his home.
- Parents First – Family is far better than the government at raising children. That’s why this bill insists that in family law cases between a parent and a non-parent, a court must presume that it is in a child’s best interest to be raised by the child’s parents and that the parent’s decisions are in the best interest of the child. In other words, a judge can’t overrule a parent’s legitimate decisions just because the judge disagrees.
- CPS “warrants” – Right now, CPS can request a special court order which is the CPS equivalent of a warrant. This can be used to search a house or interview the children. However, this order does not require any of the same due process protections that an actual warrant would normally require. This bill adds due process protections so that the order could be obtained only with probable cause of abuse or neglect.
- Accountability In CPS Hearings – Normally, a judge is not allowed to speak to one party in a case without the other party being present. However, in CPS cases, CPS is often allowed to meet with the judge without notifying the parents, even if the parents are represented by an attorney. The bill states that CPS may only speak to the judge alone in an emergency and that a record of the hearing must be kept and made available to the parents.
CPS protects thousands of children from horrific crimes. But when CPS operates without accountability, they become the source of harm to children by unnecessarily removing them from safe homes. These changes will help protect and preserve family rights in Texas and ensure all families are respected within CPS. Now that the bill is filed, it will be debated during the upcoming legislative session starting in January.
We know how it feels to be living in a time where the powers that be seek to replace parents and hinder their God-given right to authority over their child’s care, medical decisions, and education.
With decades of experience in the Texas legislature and judiciary, working alongside thousands of parents, our team determines the right course of action for each case we take on and any piece of legislation that threatens Texas parents. We will continue to work in this upcoming legislative session to ensure the state of Texas honors families raising their children.
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