Family says CPS mishandled child abuse investigation

An East Dallas couple wants to warn others about their run-in with Child Protective Services.

The mother noticed a bruise on her infant daughter and took her to the doctor. What followed is a horror story that the parents believe could happen to anyone.

The Grant family showed their daughter's injury to her pediatrician. CPS began an investigation and sent a letter that initially ruled out physical abuse. But a month later, according to court documents, CPS could not determine who caused the injury. It prompted the agency to take the Grants' two children while they were at work.

The Grants were a happy family and were loving life with their sweet then 5-month-old Zoey and rambunctious 23-month-old Wyatt.

“Jason and I have had to bury one of our children already,” said Lyndsey Grant, the children’s mother. “Our son Wyatt was an identical twin, and we lost his brother late in the pregnancy in the third term. We've already buried one of our children. And as hard as it was to go through, it was so much harder to have my living children ripped from me.”

It all began on February 28th, three days after Lyndsey went back to work after her maternity leave. She picked up Zoey and Wyatt from their daycare, which their son had attended for nearly two years. She says she noticed discoloration on Zoey's bottom when she was giving her a bath. She took Zoey to her pediatrician, who determined that the mark was a bruise and it looked like a handprint.

The pediatrician made a mandatory referral to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services and the Grants took their children out of that daycare. CPS began an investigation, speaking to both the daycare and the Grants.

On April 16, CPS then sent a letter to the Grants that only said physical abuse was ruled out. The grants were relieved. They felt they had been cleared.

On April 18, CPS came back and requested that they take Zoey for an exam at a clinic the state chose. That clinic's report concluded that Zoey had no injuries at that time but that her mother's own photos of the bruise did appear to match that of an object like a hand. But the clinic made no determination about who was responsible for the abuse.

On May 2, DPFS sent a letter to the daycare siting "insufficient evidence" to "substantiate a finding of physical abuse.”

Daycare did have cameras. When I spoke with the daycare manager and owner, she said they only kept the tapes for a period of time,” said Ashley McDowell, attorney for the Grant family. “I think the backup lasted 10 days so the tapes were gone.”  

Weeks after the clinic's exam and 78 days after CPS first began their investigation, the Grants received a call. It came at 4:50 p.m. Friday on Memorial Day weekend.

“She said, ‘No, I don't think you understand. We have your kids.’ The alarm went off,” said Jason Grant, the kids’ father.

CPS had taken their children from their new daycare while the Grants were both at work. An affidavit from CPS said the parents and daycare's timelines about the injury were "contradictory.”

Daycare staff stated they were the ones that first addressed the bruising.

“I didn't know if I could walk to my car. I was weak in my knees,” Lyndsey recalled.

The Grants hired an attorney, but a judge would not hear their motion for an emergency hearing.

“The judge basically dismissed us and said, ‘We’ll see you at the 14-day hearing,’” McDowell said.

The Grants were able to visit their children two times at a CPS office.  Each time, they had to say goodbye to children who did not understand why their parents had to leave them.

“Second time, he had a meltdown. He actually got the door open,” Jason said. “I had to pick him up and put him back out there.”

“You're handing your children back to people you don't trust,” Lyndsey said.

The same affidavit says CPS’s case to remove the children consisted of: "no one is able to provide an explanation as to how the injuries occurred, and medical examinations revealed that the injuries were inflicted and Zoey could not do them to herself. Mr. And Mrs. Grant’s explanations regarding the injuries are inconsistent and there were no other caregivers responsible for the care of the child, other than the daycare."

FOX 4 took the case to former judge Angie Bain who began her career as a CPS caseworker and knows the process from every angle. Bain is now a family law attorney and is not involved in the Grants' case.

“They made the decision to remove these kids, frankly, without many basis,” she said. “I've reviewed all the paperwork provided to me and I think all the paperwork that probably exists. It would appear to me that CPS really dropped the ball somewhere toward the end of the investigation period.”

A judge signed off on CPS’s request to seize the Grants’ children. Bain says the case is disturbing.

“We do terrific harm when we remove a child from their parents, even if it is temporary. It is really damaging to the kids. Of course, it is damaging to the parents,” Bain said. “So that decision has to be made with great thought and great study. We need to protect kids and need to err on the side of caution.”

The Grants contacted every lawmaker they could to help get their children back. State Senator Bryan Hughes from Mineola in East Texas answered. He said in a statement that he met with CPS administrators and is very concerned about how the case was handled.

The Grants were reunited with their children after 11 days. It was three days sooner than their scheduled court hearing, but they say the damage was already done.

“She was fine, but Wyatt was in disarray,” Jason said. “It was stress. He was missing patches of hair.”

For the first week, the toddler had trouble sleeping.

Judge Bain hopes lessons will be learned in this case, and not only at CPS. She thinks the DA's office and the judge, in this case, may have approved the removal of the children too quickly.

"I think this is an example and reminder that everyone should slow down and take the time that is needed to make the appropriate decisions,” Bain said.

The Grants say they are sharing their story for one reason.

“We're speaking out because someone has got to hold this organization accountable,” Lyndsey said. “The ball was definitely dropped. There is no way we are the only family this was done to.”

Six weeks after the Grants received their children back, CPS sent a letter that confirmed its finding that abuse occurred. However, they said their investigation was unable to determine who was responsible for the abuse.

Their findings are consistent with DFPS, which investigated the daycare and also determined that there was insufficient evidence to determine abuse.

CPS declined an on-camera interview about the situation, saying they can't talk about it because of state law.

The judge is not answering even general questions about the 14-day hearing process. There has also not been a response from the Dallas County DA’s office.


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