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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Recording Child Protective Services: Your Rights and Restrictions

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A new law states families must be informed of their right to record CPS interviewing them, but it also requires that individuals’ faces in the recording are blurred and names are removed before being shared online. Experts disagree on whether there would be any penalty for not following the requirement. All that is certain is this: If CPS comes to you, get an attorney immediately.

State Rep. Ina Minjarez’ (D–San Antonio) House Bill 135, which will become law on September 1, requires Child Protective Services investigators to inform those they’re investigating—”orally and in writing”—of their right to record their interview. They must also notify those being investigated of their right to request an administrative review of the findings of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

This bill became controversial when the Texas Senate Health & Human Services Committee added language that would have fined parents for sharing these recordings online.

What made this punishment controversial is the fact that citizens became aware of CPS’ abuse of power when the Texas Home School Coalition shared a video online of CPS illegally taking Drake Pardo, who was 4 years old at the time, from his parents in 2019. That case helped spark a statewide backlash; this year, the Texas Legislature passed a number of reforms aimed at restraining CPS and empowering families.

Chris Branson, the Pardos’ attorney, spoke against the proposed fine.

State Sen. Borris Miles (D–Houston), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, removed the fine and amended the bill to read, “An audio or video recording of the department’s interview with an alleged perpetrator may not be posted on an Internet website in a manner that could identify a party involved in the interview.” State Sen. Bob Hall’s (R–Edgewood) office explained this means the faces of CPS agents and children

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