AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published the policy perspective Parental Notification of Rights in Child Welfare Investigations.

“Despite the Supreme Court affording parental rights the highest protection available, practical protections for families who find themselves involved with the child welfare system are inconsistent at best,” said Andrew Brown, director of the Center for Families and Children at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Unlike defendants in the criminal justice system, parents involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) do not enjoy many protections the public takes for granted such as the famous Miranda warning. While Miranda warnings are specific to situations where a person is taken into custody and questioned by law enforcement, this paper considers the impact of requiring Miranda-style notification of rights in the child protection context.”

Child welfare investigations carry one of the most extreme consequences imposed by the state – termination of the relationship between a parent and child. Nearly a century of U.S. Supreme Court precedent has declared the fundamental right to direct the upbringing of one’s own child and protected this relationship from government interference absent the most extreme circumstances.

“The Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the United States Constitution outline a fundamental framework that the government does not have rights – people do,” said Nikki Pressley, policy analyst with the Center for Families and Children at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “This ideological framework is critical to understanding the necessity for a comprehensive notification of rights to parents being investigated by state child welfare agencies.”

Key Points:

  • As confirmed by nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent, parents and children possess a fundamental right to their relationship that government may not interfere with, absent the most compelling reasons.
  • State child welfare practice often infringes upon this fundamental right by failing to notify families of their due process rights during investigations.
  • The child welfare system is intended to be restorative, not punitive, and should set families up for success to prevent devastating consequences such as removal or termination of parental rights.
  • Texas should provide a Miranda-style notification of rights upon initial contact with CPS to reduce the risk of unnecessary trauma and to act in the best interests of children.

To read Parental Notifications of Rights in Child Welfare Investigations in full, please visit: