Child Protective Services separates families for months then dismisses case

- We’ve seen it happen time after time.

“You are guilty until proven innocent,” said Barbara Marks.

In December of last year, Child Protective Services took Marks' three children including an infant into protective custody after she says she accidentally poked her 11-year-old son in the eye.

Even though police did nothing with the case, CPS kept the woman’s children in protective custody for many months.

It all ends with the agency filing what’s called a “non-suit” asking the court to dismiss the case.

“When they’re wrong they just say ‘oops we’re wrong see you later have a nice day,’” said family law attorney Jon Parchman.

“Only God should be able to take your kids without being able to defend yourself and CPS has turned themselves into God. They’re taking people’s kids for no reason,” Kathy Giwa told us in May of last year.

CPS kept Kathy and her husband Ahmed Giwa away from their toddler son for more than a year claiming they were medically neglecting him.

“They said this woman was horrible to her child,” said family law attorney Julie Ketterman.

After many months of repeated threats to terminate their parental rights and taking their other two children into protective custody as well CPS filed a non-suit dismissing the case.

“It was all this horrible stuff,” Keterman said. “Then in the end it was like non-suit.”

By law CPS is supposed to either terminate a parent’s rights or give them their kids back within a year.

How often does CPS take children into protective custody and repeatedly drag their parents to court only to have the case dismissed?

According to the agency’s own figures, in Harris County alone it happened on average 2500 times every year between 2011 and 2015.

Roughly half of all confirmed cases of abuse or neglect result in dismissal.

On average it took CPS almost a year before asking for a non-suit.

“A few months down the line we see no reason for CPS to be involved anymore,” said agency spokesperson Tiffani Butler. “Mostly the living conditions of the home have improved, the parents have improved.”

While CPS calls the non-suits success stories, Ketterman sees it in a much different light.

Often these cases separate the child from their parents for nearly a year as in the Marks case.

“That’s not a success story. You’re talking about 11 months that children have been out of the home when most of those cases didn’t need to be a legal case to begin with or could have been resolved either through family-based services or in less than 6 months,” Ketterman said.

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