One Texas mother is currently facing the termination of her parental rights due CPS’s allegations that she failed to complete their checklist of services in the manner they preferred.
At this point in the case, CPS is not alleging any other deficiencies in her fitness as a parent. The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on September 12.
The Family Freedom Project and the Texas Association of Family Defense Attorneys have both filed briefs with the court arguing that CPS’s interpretation of the law violates the mother’s parental rights under the United States Constitution.
After CPS removed the mother’s children, the agency provided a “service plan” outlining a list of services she needed to complete to have her children returned. This is standard practice in CPS cases. The mother was given a checklist of services to complete, including specific provisions related to counseling, parenting classes, and substance abuse treatment.
The mother experienced difficulties completing these services when she ran into an unexpected obstacle: the refusal of her counselor to continue therapy sessions.
Eager to regain custody of her children, the mother completed the counseling sessions through another provider instead. CPS responded by arguing that this was not good enough. Instead, CPS claimed that the mother is required to comply with the service plan in every technical respect or face having her parental rights terminated. The case went to trial.
At trial, the CPS caseworker was specifically asked whether the mother had complied with all of the provisions of the service plan, but just not in the way that CPS had wanted. The caseworker confirmed that this was a fair assessment.
Even so, the mother’s rights were terminated. The Texas Supreme Court is now reviewing whether her constitutional rights as a parent were violated. The court heard oral arguments in the case on September 12.
While FFP is not representing the mother as an individual in this case, we are deeply involved in advocating for the fundamental right of all parents to raise their children. How the court answers the extremely important question in this case could significantly affect thousands of other families who face similar circumstances.
On October 2, FFP filed a brief in the case, arguing that the court should strike down the law as unconstitutional or else narrowly interpret it to ensure that technicalities don’t tear families apart.