It all started with complaints about a wandering child. A Child Protective Services (CPS) agent responded by investigating only to find that there was no issue.
However without warning, CPS soon after entered Christina Tutt’s home and seized her seven biological, adopted, and foster children without an explanation. Little did Christina know that three years later she would still be in court fighting alongside THSC for her parental rights, with the hopes of bringing the last of her seven children back home. This case has been described by family law attorney Cecilia Wood as the most egregious case she has ever seen in almost 30 years of family law practice.
In 2015, THSC received more than one call per week from Texas families about CPS issues, underscoring the prominence of this threat against parental rights.
Ending the Threat to Parental Rights
THSC recognizes this ominous threat to parental rights, and a CPS reform bill has quickly become one of our top priorities for the 2017 Texas State Legislative session. While CPS certainly does protect many children in abusive or neglectful situations, currently numerous flaws in the CPS system give CPS the power to run rampant over the rights of Texas parents and families, ultimately hurting children.
Families under investigation by CPS find that the system is heavily stacked against them and facilitates an environment where safe, loving parents are considered guilty until proven innocent. These rules also cause countless children to be ripped from loving, safe families on a daily basis with little regard to how it will affect the children mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Removal from one’s home is a life changing event from which many children never fully recover.
“When a child is needlessly thrown into foster care, he loses not only mom and dad but often brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, friends, and classmates. For a young enough child it can be an experience akin to a kidnapping. Other children feel they must have done something terribly wrong and now they are being punished. One major study of foster care “alumni” found they had twice the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder of Gulf War veterans and only 20 percent could be said to be “doing well.” ~National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, “Child Welfare In America – An Overview”
So How Do We Protect Children and Families?
To solve this horrific problem THSC is developing a CPS reform bill that would overhaul the system, insuring parents under investigation by CPS are allowed proper due process, therefore protecting children from trauma and unnecessary removal from homes. The Tutt case is a prime example of how current rules governing CPS investigations allow for unjustified removals of children.
THSC believes that it is imperative that the status quo change. The removal of children from their homes should be very carefully considered before the child is removed and placed in foster care.
“CPS removal as an intervention should be the last choice because the removal itself leaves an irreparable scar on a child causing them to mistrust anyone in their environment including their own parents and the professionals who are trying to “help” them. Even if the child gets placed in a relative or kinship placement (not with strangers), it still has a profound and lasting effect on the child by denying them everything they are used to and familiar with from people (parents, siblings, relatives), places (home, school, church, neighborhood), and things (own bed, toys, stuffed animals, pictures, foods).” ~ Johana Scott, Executive Director, Parent Guidance Center
THSC is collecting recommendations, experiences, and legal counsel in order to construct a large list of reforms to the CPS system. Currently, THSC is not aware of any other organization working on these specific reforms.
Five Things You Can Do:
- Follow THSC’s work to stay informed about these issues during the next legislative session.
- Be prepared for any action alerts that may be posted when THSC needs home schoolers and parents to help push these parental rights reforms through the legislature.
- Let us know if you or someone you know has valuable knowledge or experience that could help THSC in drafting and passing this legislation.
- Support THSC’s efforts by giving to support the THSC Watchmen and policy team.
- Protect your own family. THSC offers an attorney who specializes in CPS matters as a THSC membership benefit. See how this helped one member family.
Please share this article with other families like you to continue the fight in Keeping Texas Families Free.