Working Towards Reunifying the Family
In most cases, CPS has a legal mandate to attempt to reunify the family. Thus, CPS is required to identify the reasons for the removal and identify any programs or services that can assist the family to achieve the goal of reunification. A service plan must be filed no later than 45 days after a court appoints CPS the child's temporary managing conservator.
Contents of a Service Plan
A service plan must be in writing, among other things, must state the appropriate deadlines, the goal of the plan, the parents' requirement to achieve reunification, steps necessary to return the child, and any other term or condition that CPS determines to be necessary to the service plan's success.
In short, the service plan is a critical component in attempting to put a family back together since it is the blueprint for that ultimate goal to occur. At the status hearing, the court typically will address the service plan and then use it as the basis for rendering an order that incorporates portions, if not all, of the service plan as the court's order requiring the parents to engage in services.