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4200 Court-Authorized Entry

APS-IH / February 2013

If an APS specialist is denied access to a client’s home (for example, because the client does not give permission or has posted No Trespassing signs), the specialist uses all reasonable means to obtain consent to enter before seeking court action.

Examples of reasonable means include:

  •   attempting to build rapport with the client, family member, or caretaker while remaining outside the home;

  •   making additional visits to the home, if the first attempt at rapport-building is unsuccessful; and

  •   enlisting an individual close to the client to assist in gaining entry into the home.

If reasonable means fail, DFPS may petition the probate court for authorization to enter. Human Resources Code (HRC) §48.153 provides that the court with probate jurisdiction may authorize entry to a client’s home in order to investigate allegations. If the court determines that it is necessary, a peace officer will accompany the APS specialist and assist as needed.

A court order is always required for forcible entry. In most cases, the caretaker or family member allows the APS specialist access to the premises when presented with a combination of a court order and law enforcement.

4210 Procedures for Seeking an Order for Court-Authorized Entry

APS-IH / February 2009

When seeking an order for a court-authorized entry, the APS specialist:

  •   ensures that all  reasonable means to obtain permission from the caretaker or family member to enter the client’s home have been attempted;

  •   follows the general procedures for initiating legal actions outlined in 4000 Legal Actions and its subitems;

  •   gathers information that needs to be in the court order, including but not limited to how the APS specialist will gain entry into the client’s residence and which law enforcement entity will accompany APS;

  •   prepares an account that summarizes why APS cannot gain entry and contains any additional information that the APS specialist can obtain about the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation;

  •   works closely with the regional attorney to adapt the standard legal form to fit the specific situation;

  •   appears with the attorney representing APS at the Ex Parte Hearing;

 ·  obtains a copy of the court order as soon as it is available;

  •   makes necessary arrangements for a locksmith, landlord, or other person to assist in gaining entry to the client’s residence if the door is locked; and

  •   arranges with law enforcement  to provide assistance  to carry out what is stated in the order.

See:

Human Resources Code §48.153

4120 General Procedures for Initiating Legal Actions

4130 Documentation of Legal Actions

4140 Consultation With Regional Attorneys

4150 Completion of Legal Forms by APS Specialists

4152 APS Legal Forms Online

4300 Access to Records

APS-IH / February 2009

The Human Resources Code (HRC) §48.154 grants DFPS the authority to access any records or documents, including client-identifying information and medical and psychological records necessary for:

  •   investigation;

  •   service delivery; or

  •   performance of other duties required in HRC Chapter 48.

Any person or agency that has a record or document needed by DFPS to perform its duties must make the record or document available without unnecessary delay.

If the APS specialist is unable to access bank records, then the specialist sends the Request for Information from Banks letter in order to give the bank an opportunity to comply with the request for records before initiating court action.

If access to records is denied, APS may file a motion with the probate court to request that the court order access.

The person denying access is entitled to notice and a hearing on the petition. If the probate court decides in favor of the petition, the court orders the person or entity who denied access to the record or document to allow DFPS to have access under the terms and conditions prescribed in the court order.

The Human Resources Code (HRC) §48.154(b) exempts DFPS from payment of fees that are required  to obtain medical and mental health records needed for investigations.

4310 Procedures for Seeking Legal Action to Access Records

APS-IH / February 2009

When seeking legal action to obtain records, the APS specialist:

  •   uses all reasonable means to obtain the records, including but not limited to:

  •   attempting to gain consent from the client or showing a copy of the Human Resources Code to the person who is denying access, or

  •   asking an APS attorney to talk with the record–holder’s attorney, if available; and

  •   follows the instructions in 4120 General Procedures for Initiating Legal Actions;

  •    completes legal forms for the county attorney that includes the:

  •   client's name,

  •   description of the record or document,

  •   reason access to the record or document is needed, and

  •   summary of attempts made to obtain access to the record or document; and

  •   attends hearing with the attorney representing APS, and testifies.

See:

4120 General Procedures for Initiating Legal Actions

4130 Documentation of Legal Actions

4140 Consultation With Regional Attorneys

4150 Completion of Legal Forms by APS Specialists

4152 APS Legal Forms Online

4400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services

APS-IH / February 2009

The Human Resources Code (HRC) §48.155 prohibits a person from interfering with an investigation or the provision of services to a client. Examples include, but are not limited to a family member or caretaker:

  •   forbidding a client from seeking needed medical care;

  •   preventing entry of a home health worker into the client’s home; or

  •   terminating the client’s home health worker.

4410 Procedures for Seeking Legal Action to Prevent Interference

APS-IH / February 2009

When seeking legal action to obtain a court order to prevent interference with an investigation or protective services, the APS specialist:

  •   follows the instructions in 4120 General Procedures for Initiating Legal Actions;

  •   prepares an affidavit  for the APS attorney that includes:

  •   the client’s name,

  •   a description of client’s situation and the services that he or she has requested,

  •   the name of the person interfering, the extent of the interference, and any other pertinent facts;

  •   completes the legal forms;

  •   testifies at the hearing; and

  •   obtains a copy of the order.

See:

4120 General Procedures for Initiating Legal Actions

4130 Documentation of Legal Actions

4140 Consultation With Regional Attorneys

4150 Completion of Legal Forms by APS Specialists

4152 APS Legal Forms Online

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