You can download and print the "What Happens to My Child" brochure in English and Spanish.

What Happens to My Child

What is the Department of Family and Protective Services?

The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is a state program required to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect to protect children. State law requires any person who believes that a child has been abused or neglected to make a report to DFPS or to a law enforcement agency.

Will DFPS automatically become involved with my family because we are in a family violence shelter?

No, seeking shelter does not mean DFPS gets involved with you and your family. DFPS gets involved only if someone reports abuse or neglect that affects your children. Seeking shelter in a family violence program is a good step to protect your child.

Will DFPS take my children away?

Being investigated by DFPS does not mean that your child will be taken away. DFPS believes that children should not be taken away unless there is no other way to protect children from harm. Only when there is immediate danger to the children's physical health or safety, or after a court orders it, is DFPS allowed to remove children from their parents' care.

What does a DFPS investigation mean?

When investigating a report, an investigator talks to and visually examines the child reported as abused or neglected. Other children in the family are also interviewed and visually examined. Investigators gather as much information as they can to determine if abuse has occurred, if the child is currently at risk of abuse, and who caused the abuse. After gathering all of the facts, the investigator and supervisor decide whether abuse or neglect has occurred and whether further. DFPS involvement is needed to protect the child.

How will DFPS help my children and me?

Your investigator and supervisor will work with you to plan services best suited to support you and prevent harm to your children. Some of the services that DFPS may provide include:

  • Giving information to families.
  • Referring them to community resources.
  • Providing child day care.
  • Homemaker services or parent training for helping find resources to pay for things such as essential household items or utility deposits.

If my children are taken away, can I get them back?

In most cases, children return to their homes. Only in extreme cases are children taken away permanently. If your children are removed, the investigator works with you to make it safe for your children to come back home.

How will staying in a family violence shelter affect me?

Staying in the shelter may be your best option to protect both you and your child. Working with shelter staff and using community resources is a good sign that you are willing to protect your child. If DFPS is involved, your investigator or caseworker may offer services or resources to help you as well.

What happens if I already have an open DFPS case when I come to the shelter?

Tell your DFPS investigator or caseworker that you have moved to the shelter and let them know how to get in touch with you. Your investigator or caseworker, as well as shelter staff, will help you. They are concerned about your safety and your children's safety.

Will DFPS tell anyone else where we are?

The location of the shelter will not be revealed. Your family's safety is of primary concern to DFPS. DFPS is required to keep information about our clients confidential. The law requires DFPS to notify both parents of an investigation, but not the location of the investigation or where you are staying.

What happens when I leave the shelter?

When you leave the shelter, you will need a plan to protect yourself and your children. If DFPS is working with you, discuss your options and alternatives with your investigator or caseworker. Having a safety plan in place to protect you and your children is important.