During these unprecedented times, the Supreme Court of Texas has issued a number of emergency orders that modify typical court functions and procedures. Among these orders are provisions that specifically govern court procedures in suits affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR), which include Child Protective Services (CPS) cases.
In doing so, the Supreme Court of Texas has ensured that necessary adjustments are made to protect the best interest of children during these uncertain times. However, the Supreme Court of Texas isn’t the only entity that can and should make adjustments to protect Texas children involved in CPS cases.
The COVID-19 epidemic has presented CPS itself with an opportunity to adjust its policies either to expedite reunification of families or to extend separation of families. THSC encourages CPS to expedite reunification.
Unfortunately, there have been reports of “inconsistent practices” and “potential violations of the rights of children and parents” during the COVID-19 epidemic.
In order to protect the rights of children and families, THSC and a coalition of attorneys, parental rights groups, and other stakeholders sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), which is the department that oversees CPS, recommending specific changes that would protect the rights of children and families during the COVID-19 epidemic.
These recommendations include:
- Expediting reunifications of families
- Conducting investigations virtually
- Continuing in-person visitation when possible
- Preventing removals based on inability to comply with a court order
- Modifying unfeasible service plans
Expediting and encouraging reunification is essential to protecting the rights of children and families during the COVID-19 epidemic. Encouraging CPS to adopt these changes is just another way that THSC is Keeping Texas Families Free!
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