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CPS faces consequences of losing child-custody battle



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Nicole Gonzales and Mary Richards reportingQuestions about Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) actions are coming into light a day after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of FLDS families.

Duane Betournay, Director Child and Family Services, said, "I'm sure they're looking at their system and their response to it, and they're going to re-evaluate what their response was."

The Texas Supreme Court ruled six to three that the state overstepped its bounds and didn't have enough evidence to remove all the children. While FLDS families and supporters are happy, CPS is facing the consequences of losing a two-month emotional and expensive battle over the children.

Legally, things aren't over just yet. We spoke to the Utah Department of Child and Family services, our state's equivalent CPS, and they say the children are still under court jurisdiction.

The next step will be to look closely at specific court orders and, this time, examine everything case by case. Agree or disagree with the FLDS lifestyle, yesterday's court decision was based on Texas law that states, in order to remove children from a home, there must be sufficient evidence of an emergency circumstance.

Duane Betourney with DCFS says the decision comes as no surprise. "Even in the state of Utah, whether or not there was an emergency situation and whether or not there's something you could have done to prevent the removal than actually remove the children."

Now CPS will have to comply with court orders. Betourney says the Texas agency will have to determine whether or not identified potential perpetrators will have access to children. Mostly, he says, CPS is probably worried the families will leave town. "I think what Texas child welfare officials feel and fear is that many of these people will just leave the state of Texas and be outside the jurisdiction of the Texas courts. So it's going to be interesting to watch it unfold," he said.

Betournay also said it's going to be a difficult process bringing all these families back together since more than 400 children are spread across Texas in foster-care homes.

E-mail: ngonzales@ksl.com
E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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