Child Protective Services touches tens of thousands of Texas families every year in one way or another. Stories abound about children who were in dangerous situations and needed help, but the system refused to remove them. There are many other stories about families who loved their children and were trying hard to be good parents, but the system threatened to remove their kids anyway.
The Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) tells the Texas Legislature that the reason these difficult situations exist is that their department does not have enough money, and the only way to fix it is with more money. And every session, legislators give DFPS exactly what they ask for in their budget: increase upon increase upon increase … with no measurable improvements in the lives of children or families in our state.
Krista McIntire, the founder of Family Rights Advocacy, sees firsthand the damage done by careless caseworkers and a system destined to fail our most vulnerable families and children. She has personally guided 243 families through CPS investigations by offering non-legal advice and supporting the families’ efforts to exercise their rights when under intense pressure to just do as they are told.
To date, every family that has partnered with Krista has been cleared of any wrongdoing by CPS.
Family Rights Advocacy’s stated mission is “Empowering parents to advocate for themselves against unwarranted government intrusion and intervention.” But FRA is also taking on the legislature this coming session and combating the notion that in order to fix their multitude of problems, all DFPS needs is more money.
Their biggest contentions are that every allegation must be investigated whether that case rises to the threshold of being an actual crime or not, and every family under investigation has to prove their innocence in a civil court instead of the state having to prove the family’s guilt in a criminal court. In other words, if an angry neighbor calls CPS because “those darn kids are running around outside again without shoes on” (not a crime), a caseworker is required to open a case and investigate the family. Then that family must prove to the caseworker and sometimes a judge that they are really a loving family who owns shoes and must agree to an invasive parenting plan that has the potential to keep the department in their lives for much longer than necessary.
“I think people need to understand that an accused murderer has more rights that they are able to exercise in the criminal courts than an accused family undergoing a CPS investigation in civil court,” said Krista. “There is no right to remain silent because anything you don’t say could also be used against you if that’s the narrative the caseworker wants to use. There is no right to an attorney to help navigate this scary process. There is no right to face your accuser as many of the accusations come from anonymous sources. There is so much broken in this system that could be fixed by restoring our rights, and that is what Family Rights Advocacy will be looking for this coming session at every opportunity.”
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