"Help! My Kids Have Been Taken by CPS" If your child/ren have recently been detained by the State (Children's Services Division- CSD / Child Protective Services - CPS), you are probably feeling a roller coaster of emotions. These emotions - not to mention the process itself- can be overwhelming. (But now is exactly not the time to act overwhelmed- ugh!)
What to Do If Your Kids Have Been Detained by CPS/CSD
These are suggestions only. Talk with your Attorney, Case Worker and/or Therapist, and follow any Court orders related to your case. These suggestions should not be considered therapy. Please contact us if you would like information about therapy services.
Give the Social Worker contact information for the other parent, family members or close friends that may be able to care for your children while you go through the Court process. If you do not have a family member or close friend who is able to provide care, your child/ren may be placed in foster care.
Attend the initial Court hearing. This should happen very quickly after your child/ren has/have been detained. This is when the Judge will decide whether your children can go home or if they will need to stay in another place while you work on a family plan.
The judge will likely appoint an attorney for you at this time.
You will most likely have two or three Court dates to settle issues related to determining where your child will live, visitation, and your family plan. Then
You will likely be required to do a variety of tasks (goals) before you can regain custody of your child/ren. This list of tasks is called a family plan or action plan. This may include attending sobriety, parenting, anger management and/or domestic violence classes, obtaining employment, finding adequate housing, demonstrating an ability to nurture and appropriately discipline your children, as well as the ability to provide food, clothing and toys. Keep in mind, there are specific time limits for parents to show progress.
You most likely will also be given time to visit with your children (this depends upon severity and circumstances). The visits will likely be monitored (supervised) at first, and will move toward unsupervised as you show progress in completing stated goals and in being a safe person for your child/ children.
A Stressful Time
Many parents report feeling stressed by trying to juggle sobriety, random testing, classes, meetings, visitation, work schedules and court dates- all while worrying about (and terribly missing) their kids.
Children, too, feel the stress of an unexpected move, new surroundings, limited parental contact, and sometimes separation from siblings and/or other family members.
It is recommended that parents and children attend therapy during this stressful time. Therapy can focus on increasing coping skills, overcoming grief and emotional upset, realizing future plans, improving communication and relational skills and/or a variety of these (or other) topics and treatment goals.
Whether the Court mandates counseling or not, it may be a helpful addition to your family plan. Counseling can assist you and/or your child with: - establishing and maintaining safety - adjusting to change - issues related to separation and reunification - dealing with anxiety and stress - creating meaningful bonding / attachment times - communicating effectively with each other and your treatment team - recognizing behaviors or patterns that contributed to CPS / CSD involvement in the first place - exploring healthy alternatives to create a more desired lifestyle - addressing other issues or concerns specific to your family and situation
FCCS offers a family counseling program specifically for families who are (or who have been) separated for a time and/or who are facing potential State involvement and/or potential child removal from home. Check it out here.
Additionally, here are some suggestions to help keep your 'overwhelmtion' at bay:
- Remember, the main goal of the Court and your Social Worker is to reunite your kids with you- provided it is safe to do so. - Try to think of this as a 'wake up call' or 'starting point' for a new life; take advantage of all of the resources and learning opportunities. - No matter how much you want to take your frustrations out on your Social Worker, resist the urge; he/she can be your biggest fan and strongest support if you collaborate and cooperate on reaching established goals. - Remember, you are not the only person who has been here; many others have walked this path and regained custody of their child/ren. - Connect with others who are on the same positive path and avoid those who are negative influences. - Look to professionals, other parents, friends and family who can offer emotional support when you need it (and you will!). - Understand that the guardians or foster parents have Court ordered rules to follow, as well (such as monitoring phone calls and only allowing for visits during specific approved times). - Try your very best to make every meeting, class, counseling session and visit; meet or exceed expectations. - Get a notebook and write (in pen) everything that happens (contact with people who are working on the case, attendance at counseling, classes, etc.). - Keep your Social Worker and Attorney updated; provide them with attendance logs and information on your personal progress. If they don't call you in between Court dates, call or email them with updates. - Take care of you (exercise, pray, enjoy nice weather, read a book, dance- whatever it is that keeps you healthy, stable and on track). - Eat healthy, drink clean water and get plenty of rest. - Remember the ultimate goal- reuniting with your kids. - Find the Supervised Visitation flyer by the Judicial Council of California here. - Find the California parent handbook on navigating your child dependency case here. - Take one day at a time... breathe in... breathe out... smile, you are making progress!
Finding Help The FCCS staff has experience and training in child detainment / dependency situations, supervised visitation and counseling families in transition.
If you would like more information on Parent- Child counseling, please contact us.
FCCS is directed by Melinda Haynes, MA, California LMFT 102308. Oklahoma LMFT 1153. North Carolina LMFT 2143.