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Appendix 5223.4: Making a Detailed Diligent Search for a Parent

CPS December 2013

A caseworker makes a diligent (reasonable, detailed) search for a parent:

  •  to serve notice; and

  •  to enable the parent to evaluate placement options.

The caseworker also makes a diligent search for relatives to identify potential caregivers with whom to place the child.

Step 1: Ask the Custodial Parent About the Absent Parent

The caseworker asks the custodial parent to provide information about the absent parent, as explained below.

If the custodial parent is uncooperative about providing information, the attorney representing DFPS can obtain a subpoena requiring the custodial parent to serve as a witness to testify about his or her knowledge of the absent parent and the relatives of the absent parent.

Identifying Information

The caseworker asks for identifying information, such as the absent parent’s:

  •  name;

  •  date and place of birth;

  •  Social Security number; or

  •  driver’s license information

Events and Personal History

The caseworker asks the custodial parent about the absent parent’s personal history, as follows. When inquiring about locations, the caseworker asks about the city, county, and state:

  •  What is the hometown of the absent parent?

  •  Where did the parents meet?

  •  Who is or was the absent parent’s employer?

  •  What schools did the absent parent attend?

  •  When and where did the parents marry?

  •  When and where did the parents separate or divorce?

  •  Is or was the absent parent in the military? If so, what branch, rank, and so on?

Other Children

The caseworker asks whether the absent parent has other children. If so, the caseworker asks for their:

  •  names;

  •  ages;

  •  addresses;

  •  dates and types of the last contacts with the absent parent; and

  •  other parents’ (names, addresses, and phone numbers).

Other Family Members

The caseworker asks who else, related (such as parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles) or unrelated, may be able to provide information about the absent parent.

If the custodial parent provides other contacts, the caseworker asks for the contacts’:

  •  names;

  •  addresses; and

  •  phone numbers.

Specifically, the caseworker:

  •  interviews children to find out what they know about the absent parent;

  •  interviews relatives of the custodial parent to find out what they know about the absent parent;

Review Data

In addition to interviewing contact persons, the caseworker also:

  •  reviews all case information in the IMPACT case management system;

  •  reviews the case files for information that could help locate the absent parent; and

  •  makes queries using free public search sites.

Step 2: Request a Diligent Search

If the absent parent cannot be found, the caseworker takes the following actions:

  •  Complete Form 2277 Request for Diligent Search.

      Do not prepare any other document other than Form 2277. No other document is accepted in lieu of Form 2277 and no other document is processed.

  •  Submit Form 2277 to the Family Inquiry Network/Database Research System (FINDRS) through the FINDRS mailbox. In the subject line of the email, include the name of the oldest child and the cause number for the case (as issued by the court).

      Form 2277 may be sent to FINDRS staff by the caseworker or by other DFPS staff designated to perform this task.

FINDRS staff then does as follows:

  •  Conducts a search using various search engines that are available to FINDRS staff.

  •  Sends the search results to the caseworker (and other DFPS staff listed on the request form).

Citizens of a Foreign Country

If the absent parent is a citizen of a foreign country and the caseworker believes that the absent parent lives in his or her home country, the caseworker must:

  •  contact the consulate of that country; and

  •  request assistance in locating the absent parent.

Step 3: Attempt to Make Contact

Once addresses have been obtained through a diligent search, the caseworker or designee sends letters to those addresses.

The caseworker uses only the form letters approved for contacting the absent parent or relative as part of a diligent search. The caseworker does not use any other letters when attempting to locate a parent or relative.

If an address appears to be valid for an absent parent, the caseworker sends:

  •  one letter through regular mail; and

  •  one letter with a return receipt requested, to document whether the address is valid.

The return receipt documents the attempt to validate the address.

Other Resources

The caseworker uses the information obtained to makes inquires to the following resources. This list is not all-inclusive. Local resources must also be used.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (Inquire about locating information for missing parents who may be eligible for services, such as Medicaid and food stamps.)

US Postal Service (Request forwarding addresses.)

Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Texas Board of Pardons and Parole (Request locating information for parents who are the subjects of searches and the names of the probation or parole officers assigned to supervise the parents.)

Local jails (Request release information.)

Local law enforcement (Even if there is no criminal involvement, law enforcement may know the individual.)

Military Locator Service (Request discharge information or current duty assignment.)

Public utilities, including water, gas, electric, and phone services

County tax assessor 

The county for records on marriages or divorces

Hospitals

Shelters

Telephone white pages and Internet phonebook searches such as AnyWho.com

Local chapters of community or religious organizations with which the absent parent is affiliated

Present and previous employers

Licensing entities, if the parent holds a professional license

Step 4: Notify Parties Involved That the Parent Is Located

The caseworker’s next steps depend on the results of attempting to make contact or find additional information, as explained below.

Parent Is Located

If the absent parent is located, the process stops and the caseworker notifies the parties involved in the case.

No Information Obtained

The caseworker completes an Affidavit of Diligent Search and presents it to the court, if:

  •  no positive matches are made in the attempts to locate the absent parent; and

  •  no further identifying information has been obtained that could help locate the person.

Information Obtained

If additional information is obtained, the caseworker proceeds to Step 5 and does not complete the affidavit.

Step 5: Repeat Diligent Search With New Information

If additional information is obtained that might help locate the individual, the caseworker:

  •  resubmits an updated Form 2277 Request for Diligent Search to the FINDRS mailbox; and

  •  repeats Steps 2 and 3 to locate the absent parent.

At any time that additional information is obtained that could help locate an absent parent, the caseworker forwards the information to the Family Inquiry Network/Database Research System (FINDRS) as quickly as possible.

It can take FINDRS staff up to 30 days to complete the search.

For tracking purposes, FINDRS staff require that the Subject line of all emails about the case contain the oldest child’s name and the cause number (as issued by the court) .

For tracking purposes, FINDRS staff require that the Subject line of all email communication with them contain:

  •  the oldest child’s name; and

  •  the cause number (issued by the court).

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