Welfare Checks in Texas

welfare check

Everyone wants to live safe, independent lives. However, as time passes, things change. Spouses die, and grown children move away, leaving loved ones alone. Add problems with physical or even mental health, and they may withdraw and become isolated. In these instances, friends, family, and neighbors may ask for a welfare check to be sure their loved one is safe.

In a welfare check, police will go to a person's home and try to contact them. Although welfare checks are typically associated with the elderly, they are also used in other situations, such as,

  • when neighbors notice suspicious activity in a nearby home;
  • when there is domestic violence taking place; or
  • someone with known mental issues begins leaving disturbing messages on friends' phones or social media, then do not respond when someone tries to contact them.

Some people hesitate to request welfare checks because they believe it's not their place. However, anyone can request them. Often it is family members who live out of town or even out of state who can't contact their loved one, but it can also be members of a church or social group. Even neighbors who believe something is wrong and knock on a person's door but get no response are allowed to request a welfare check.

When you initiate a welfare check, call 911 or the police non-emergency number, depending on how urgent you feel the need is. Give the operator your full name and phone number and as many details about your concerns as possible, such as:

  • Sudden extended isolation – You might notice that the person has stopped checking the mail every day at ten o'clock or going for a morning walk.
  • Signs of neglect – The person may be unusually unkempt, their once neat home is extremely untidy, and you see no signs of food in the kitchen.
  • Signs of abuse – You might notice an increasing number of unexplainable bruises and injuries.
  • Signs of worsening mental illness – The person may have shown signs of extreme depression and hopelessness.
  • Suspicious activity – You may see someone moving around a neighbor's house when you know they are away.
  • Domestic violence – You may see one person striking another physically or with an object and/or hear threats. Be as specific as possible in this instance. True domestic violence may end with other organizations being called in, and you might even have to speak for someone too frightened to speak for themselves at that moment.

When the police arrive, they will knock on the door or ring the doorbell and identify themselves. If there's no answer, they may walk around the house, checking for anything suspicious, such as broken windows or open doors. They may then knock on the door and identify themselves again. In the case of a welfare check, the police do not need a court order to legally enter a home. If no one responds to the officer's call, they may be unable to or unconscious and waiting for approval to enter could make matters worse. This gives the officer what is known as “probable cause,” or the ability to use their own judgement when it comes to entering a place without consent. Even if the person does answer, they may be held hostage and forced to tell them to leave. The information you provide will help them make their decision.

After the welfare check is concluded, the officer will either:

  • decide if it was a case of simple miscommunication and that the person is alright but has willingly chosen not to respond;
  • call for medical assistance if the person was sick or injured. They will then contact you for further information;
  • if the person was deceased, they will contact you for more information. If there are signs of foul play, they will begin a criminal investigation.

If you notice anything suspicious about a neighbor, friend, or relative, don't hesitate to request a welfare check. You may feel like you are interfering in their lives or that they will be angry, but that one call could also save their lives.

Related Posts
  • Summer Activities for Co-Parents Read More
  • The Children's Bill of Rights Read More
  • What is Parental Alienation? Read More