If a home is thought to be unfit or dangerous for a child, authorities will now have a more difficult time removing that child. A 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling requires CPS workers to go before a judge before talking to a child.
The ruling stems from a case in Houston where the state removed 13 children from their home during a child abuse investigation. If the state were to try that today, permission must first be granted from the court.
We are told it will not change the duties of child protective services, just the order in which they are performed. Randall County Assistant District Attorney Jami Watson says, "for CPS to go interview a child, we must get a court order or parental consent or have exigent circumstances."
Although CPS must get a court order or parental consent before removing a child, there are situations which the agency can bypass the courtroom altogether.
Randall County District Attorney says, "if there's sufficient imminent danger, we can act without a search warrant and enter a home or anywhere else."
Having heard hundreds of these cases, one Randall County Judge says the ruling is both positive and negative. Judge Ronnie Walker says, "it's a double edged sword, you have to balance protection of children and the privacy and sanctity of family."
Which is why Walker says the ruling is not a cut and dry formula, each situation should be dealt with on a case by case basis.