Why DFPS Folks Resent Family Lawyers

Family lawyers issue discovery and have many, many more motions and hearings than a routine DFPS case. DFPS, as a rule, hates being held accountable. Family lawyers like to challenge everything. DFPS uses euphemisms like "taking the children into care", as if the current state of our foster care system and DFPS custody was something that should make us beam with pride. Caseworkers do not like the grilling they get in court, especially if they have been disempowered. Family lawyers want access to, but are insulated from the actual DFPS decision makers. Family lawyers challenge the expertise of DFPS contract providers. In juvenile courts this is rarely done. Family lawyers cannot make sense of Family Service Plans and want them customized or modified. When caseworkers are unreachable or do unintelligent things, family lawyers challenge DFPS. Family lawyers, however, are not necessarily successful in "tilting windmills" against DFPS. This is partly because resistance and inertia tend to prevail in the DFPS system. Even if the government cannot prove a case in the same manner or to the same degree that the judge would require of a private party, in most circumstances they are able to place before the court sufficient facts to give the court concern over the best interest of the child. DFPS has been comfortable, and to some degree complacent that the judge will not rule against them out of fear of the end result. No judge wants a child harmed on their watch and DFPS counts on this because most judges, especially those who have ended up with an injured or dead child, lean towards "gut", "best interest", or outright "concern" over immediate danger to the physical safety of the child.

Fundamental to structural organization of DFPS is the existence of an insulated bureaucracy with little to no accountability. In the absence of discernable standards of decision making from unit to unit, sometimes the best strategy in the defense of a DFPS case is "political" rather than "legal". The exposure of illogical, inconsistent, dangerous, or racist decision making to the higher echelons of DFPS and the pressure of internal accountability cannot be underestimated or undervalued. When faced with such decision making, the path to review is not always legal. Forced internal review, leveraged through legal process, is an extremely helpful tool in the overall outcome of the average case.