CPS Parent Resource Guide Part 14: Moving Forward
How to Move Forward If Your Child Is Not Coming Home
First and foremost, remember that you are not alone in this matter. Losing a child is the hardest thing a parent could go through, whether you voluntarily agree to give up your parental rights, or you go to court and a judge sees fit to take away your parental rights.
It is vital to your mental health to find a support system of people that can help care for you and support you. You might feel as if you have failed as a parent and this can be hard to admit to someone else. Feel free to also reach out to your community religious leader if you are religious.
Additionally, take time to take care for yourself. Your physical health and mental health are related. You are mentally and emotionally stronger when you exercise, eat right, drink water, hang out with positive people, and avoid harmful relationships. If you can afford it, consider taking up counseling, and you can ask your CPS worker and/or lawyer for help in finding in a therapist and to see if CPS will pay for this support.
Remember that losing parental rights does not end your relationship with the child, and if you have other children in the home do not neglect those relationships. It is possible that CPS will decide that you can safely care for your child at a future date. Finally, if your child is not returned to you at the end of a case, you may be able to appeal the jury’s decision. Your lawyer is legally bound to assist you and represent you in the appeal. You need to discuss an appeal with your lawyer as soon as possible because appeals have strict time limits and deadlines.
Your Child is Coming Home! How to Prepare:
Keep in mind that a lot may have changed since your child last lived with you. He/she may have different tastes, and may have different interests or habits. It is understandable if it feels a little strange having your child in your home since they have grown up a bit. Since your child has already gone through so much, it is important to make this transition as smooth as possible.
You should prepare early for your child’s arrival as early as possible. Ask your lawyer to help you figure out a good plan you can follow for when the child gets home. If you have appropriate friends and family, ask them to be a safety net for you and the child. Additionally, it is vital to know whether your child will have to change schools when they return to your care, and whether they will need to be in daycare. You must make arrangements for their schooling and daycare BEFORE they return home. Taking care of your child will have its challenging parts and you must plan for them.
In order to plan ahead for your child’s return it is crucial to plan for new schedules or habits. Your child has probably grown up a lot, and as we mentioned before, their daily habits have probably changed. Here are some daily aspects you should ask your child about before they arrive:
- Schedule- Your child has probably developed a set time that he/she wakes up for school, and a set time aside every night for homework. Inquire about these schedules, and positively reinforce these schedules if your child is doing well.
- Food- Find out and ask what your child has been eating, and if they have any new dietary restrictions
- Activities- Learn what is needed to keep him involved. It is important for kids to be active for social and physical reasons
- Chores- Plan ahead for chores your child could help you with, and make it into a set routine
Finally, be sure to obtain your child’s updated medical information. Ask about health insurance and find out when it will expire. Get the names and contact information of any doctors your child has seen, and ask about any medicines the child has taken as well as the dosages.
What Can I Do to Keep CPS Out of My Life?
To avoid CPS coming into your life again, it is important to know what brought them into your life the first time. Why did CPS think you were an unsafe parent? It is imperative that you make sure these issues do not come up again. Here is a list of common risk factors and you should think whether any of them still apply to you:
- You have trouble finding a job
- You have mental health issues
- You have been arrested more than once
- You have abused drugs and alcohol
- You have a history of domestic violence
- You have trouble controlling your anger
- You have trouble making sure your child is clean, well-fed, dressed, and at school on time
- You have trouble keeping your house clean and safe
- You do not have family or friends who can help you
- You have trouble utilizing community resources like food banks, shelters, and public transportation.
Remember that no one is perfect, and that even if one or more of these apply to you, you are the parent and it is YOUR responsibility to keep the child safe and thus keep CPS away.