Home School Legal Defense Association recently assisted a member in Texas to close a child protective services investigation that had dragged on for months without resolution.
The investigation started after the mother took her 4-year-old daughter to the doctor because of a small rash. The nurse who examined the daughter said she didn’t think the rash was a sign of child abuse, but she said she was going to report it
in order to be “better safe than sorry.”
Several days later, when the county CPS investigator arrived at the family’s house, she verified that the nurse hadn’t actually alleged abuse or neglect, but the family decided to cooperate with the “investigation” anyway. The investigator interviewed the parents and all of the children, examined the children, and confirmed there were no symptoms of neglect or abuse.
And on It Goes
That should have been the end of it.
But CPS wouldn’t provide the family with any information about the status of their case. When the mother called the office, CPS said that the family was now in the state child abuse registry, but that the listing, including the case records and
the registry complaint, would go away in 12 to 18 months if they didn’t have any more CPS cases opened up against them.
(This is not how the child abuse registry operates—in Texas or any state.)
After that misinformation, CPS just didn’t answer the family’s requests.
So the family contacted HSLDA for assistance. Although the case was not related to homeschooling, we were concerned that the family’s rights were being ignored.
Our local counsel in Texas, Tom Sanders, fired off a courteous but firm letter to the county, demanding that they immediately contact the family in writing to confirm that their case has been closed as “ruled-out” and that they were not listed
on the central registry.
Shortly after Sanders’ missive, the investigator called the mother and left a message. She sounded a bit put out, but thankfully said that the case was indeed closed as “ruled out” and that the family was not on any sort of registry.
Within two days, the family had received written confirmation of what the investigator had said in her phone message.