NOTE: Our law firm does not handle child protective services cases. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

Child Protective Services (CPS), part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, is charged with protecting neglected and abused children. CPS removes children from unsafe environments and places them with other family members, in foster care, or other alternative housing.  

The purpose of removing children from their homes is to keep them from being harmed. But, unfortunately, the system can fail. When the system fails, children can suffer emotional and physical injuries.

Texas Child Protective Services can be liable if a child in their care and custody is injured or killed. A Houston child protective services negligence lawyer can help you sue CPS to hold it responsible for its negligence

Signs of Child Abuse That Could Indicate Child Protective Services Is Not Doing Its Job

Children may not be able to communicate when someone is hurting them. Older children might be scared to say anything because they do not know who they can trust. Therefore, the first step in ensuring CPS is doing its job is to be familiar with the signs of child abuse and neglect

Child abuse and neglect can take several forms. Signs and symptoms of physical abuse to watch for include:

  • Unexplained injuries, including bruises, burns, broken bones, and cuts
  • Excuses for injuries that do not sound reasonable
  • Children who cower or are frightened in the presence of their parents or caregivers
  • A parent or caregiver who uses severe discipline methods
  • A child cries or becomes visibly upset when returned to a parent or caregiver

Emotional abuse can be difficult to detect. However, it can be as damaging as physical abuse. Emotional abuse can cause long-term psychological problems. Signs include:

  • Depression
  • Decreased self-esteem or confidence
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal 
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Self-harm and destructive behavior
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Emotional immaturity

Sexual abuse covers all forms of sexual conduct, including placing children in sexual situations or exposing them to pornographic materials. Warning signs of child sex abuse include:

  • Itching, pain, or injury to the genitals
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge 
  • Bloody, stained, or ripped undergarments
  • Inappropriate sexual contact with other children or adults
  • The signs of emotional abuse, including withdrawal, self-harm, and emotional immaturity

Neglect occurs when a caregiver or parent fails to provide for a child’s basic needs. Signs of neglect include:

  • Wearing clothing that is dirty, damaged, or the wrong size
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of dental and medical attention
  • Excessive absences or tardiness at school
  • Malnutrition or weight loss
  • Lack of parental involvement and supervision

If you recognize the signs of child abuse or neglect, you can file a report with the Texas Child Protective Services. Some individuals are mandatory reporters, including healthcare providers and educators. These signs of abuse and neglect may apply before or after the child is in CPS custody.

How Does Texas Child Protective Services Fail Children?

When the CPS receives a report of child abuse or neglect, it has a duty to take appropriate action. The CPS also has a duty to protect the children in its custody. Unfortunately, the CPS fails in many ways including, but not limited to:

  • Failing to conduct thorough investigations of allegations of child abuse or neglect
  • Inadequate staffing, which means investigators and case workers who are overworked
  • Unreasonable delays in responding to complaints
  • Falsifying records to cover up mistakes and wrongdoing
  • Failing to communicate with law enforcement agencies 
  • Closing abuse cases too quickly
  • Investigators failing to follow policy and procedures
  • Lack of training and supervision
  • Placing children in foster homes with allegations of neglect or abuse
  • Failing to listen to children in foster homes who complain of abuse or neglect

The above list is not exhaustive. There are other ways that the agency can fail a child because of negligence, fraud, and intentional torts

When CPS fails a child, the child can suffer unimaginable physical, cognitive, and emotional damage. If this happens, a parent or legal guardian can sue CPS for breaching their duty of care. 

How To Sue Child Protective Services in Texas

Suing a government entity is not easy. Sovereign immunity protects government entities from civil lawsuits. However, the Texas Tort Claims Act waives immunity for certain cases involving negligence by government employees and offices.

The first step is to contact an experienced Houston child injury lawyer to discuss the case. An attorney can investigate your situation to determine the legal causes of action a child or parent might have against Child Protective Services. If a legal claim exists, a lawyer can help you recover compensation for the damages caused by CPS.

However, the deadlines for filing claims against government entities are short. Therefore, it is best to contact an attorney as soon as you suspect CPS caused a child harm or injury.