Previous Page

Definitions of Terms

CPS October 2021

The definitions below serve as a glossary for this handbook.

See also Other Definitions in the CPS Handbook.

Blatant Disregard

CPS Definition October 2021

The real and significant harm to the child as a result of the person’s act(s) or omission(s) that meet the following criteria:

  • Would have been obvious to a reasonable person in the same situation; and
  • The reasonable person would have known to take precautionary measures to protect the child from the impending harm.

Ex Parte

CPS Definition October 2020

An ex parte protective order is an order the court enters before holding a hearing where the parents are present and before the citation of the parents.  

Exigent circumstances

CPS Definition October 2020

Exigent circumstances means that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the situation meets the following criteria:

  • There is reasonable cause to believe that the child is in imminent danger of physical or sexual harm if the child remains in the home.
  • The situation requires immediate action. 

Fictive Kin

CPS Definition June 2021

Someone who is not related to a child under DFPS conservatorship, but who has, or who once had, a prior longstanding relationship with the child or the child’s sibling group. Teachers, coaches, family friends, godparents, and long-time neighbors are examples of people who may be fictive kin.

Health Care Practitioner

CPS Definition October 2021

A person licensed, certified or otherwise authorized to administer health care services in the ordinary course of business or professional practice. The term includes a physician, medical student, resident physician, child abuse fellow, advanced practice nurse, nurse, or physician assistant.

Texas Family Code §261.30175

Immediate Danger to Child’s Physical Health or Safety

CPS Definition October 2021

A person’s act(s) or omission(s) placed the child in a situation that has resulted in or would have resulted in harm to the child.

Imminent danger

CPS Definition October 2020

Imminent danger means there is an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of the child, or sexual abuse is about to occur to the child.


CPS Definition September 2019

A principal, also called a principal source, is a person closely connected with the case. This term includes the following:

  •  A child who is a victim or alleged victim of abuse or neglect by a parent or caregiver.

  •  All other children who live in the child’s home.

  •  All parents and caregivers who are part of the household, including those whom the court has appointed as sole or joint managing conservators and live with the child.

  •  Everyone responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the children in the family or household, even if the person is not a parent or caregiver, including others whom the court has appointed as managing or possessory conservators.

  •  Each alleged or designated perpetrator of child abuse or neglect.

  •  Each victim who is also a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect.

  •  Noncustodial parents, if DFPS knows or determines their location and their parental rights have not been terminated. This applies whether or not they visit the child.

  •  All people age 14 and older who live with the child as the result of a parental child safety placement.

The Person List page in IMPACT must include all principals in the case.

Each person in the case is either a principal or a collateral.

School Personnel and Volunteers

CPS Definition October 2021

People providing services or caring for children at a public or private school under the jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) who have access to children in a school setting, or people in a private school setting who have responsibility for the care, custody, or control of children in a school setting. This definition includes school employees, contractors, volunteers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, or custodians

Texas Administrative Code §707.605


CPS Definition October 2020

A search is:

  • The act of entering and inspecting a home or another place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • The act of visually inspecting or examining a child.


CPS Definition October 2020

A seizure is an act that would make a reasonable person feel that he or she, or another person (such as a family member), is not free to leave, including when conducting an interview of a child.


CPS Definition August 2019

A staffing is an internal meeting attended by DFPS staff, family services contractors (FSC), single source continuum contract (SSCC) staff, or any combination of these people, with the purpose of discussing the status of a case or a child care operation. It may also include Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) employees or others not employed by DFPS, as appropriate.

Other Definitions in the CPS Handbook

1411 Types of Cases and Stages of Service

1410 Definition of Case and Stage

1610 Definitions Related to Permanency Care Assistance

1912 Definitions Related to Substance Abuse

2113.1 Definitions of Abuse

2113.2 Definitions of Neglect

2114 Statutory Definition of Person Responsible for Child's Care, Custody, or Welfare

2115 Terms Used in Primary Statutory Definitions

2116 Other Definitions

5313.1 Definition of Unapproved Facility (for placement)

8110 Definitions (Purchased Child Protective Services)

8251 Definitions (Preparing for Judicial Determination)

8521.1 Definitions (Home Study Services)

8241 Definitions (Evaluation, Treatment, and Substance Abuse Services)

8526.1 Definitions (County Contracts)

Appendix 2472.1-B: Definitions of Roles

Previous Page