Investigating Child Abuse and Neglect Reports

State law requires anyone who believes a child is being abused or neglected to report it so CPS can investigate. CPS interviews children, parents, and others who know about the family to help determine if abuse or neglect happened, if children are safe, and to gauge the risk of further harm. CPS investigators also consider physical evidence such as injuries, illegal drug use, and other factors such as lack of food or medical care. If needed, CPS investigators may refer families to services to help stabilize the family and address their needs. However, if services are not enough to make a child safe, CPS may ask a judge to remove the child from the parents' custody and place the child in a relative’s care or foster care.

Alternative Response

In FY 2015, CPS started using an alternative to traditional investigations in a few parts of the state. Alternative Response lets CPS handle less serious allegations of abuse or neglect in a more flexible way – engaging families while still focusing on the safety of the children. CPS provides services and support to help families resolve safety issues and reduce future involvement with CPS. CPS continued to expand the use of Alternative Response.  In FY 2016, CPS was using this practice in the Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, Laredo, and Midland areas. CPS plans to use this approach statewide by December 2018.

For more information, see Investigations in the CPS section of Data and Statistics on the DFPS website.

Family-Based Safety Services

CPS provides in-home services to help stabilize families and reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect. Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS) can help avoid the need to remove children from their homes. These services often make it possible for children to return home by helping families understand and protect their children from danger. Services include family counseling, crisis intervention, parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence intervention, and day care. Most children receiving these services live at home while CPS works with their families. In some cases, children may live elsewhere, usually with relatives or family friends, until they can safely return home.

For more information, see Family Preservation in the CPS section of Data and Statistics on the DFPS website.