Recent News


12/04/17   Special Masters in Federal Class Action Suit on Behalf of Foster Children Have Filed an Implementation Plan

On December 4, 2017, the Special Masters in M.D. v. Abbott, the federal class action suit on behalf of Texas foster children, filed an Implementation Plan for the purpose of reforming the Texas foster care system. The stated goal of the plan is "to provide children in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) of Texas with the minimum standards of personal security and safe living conditions so that they are free from unreasonable risk of harm, both physical and emotional." The Plan details numerous changes to be made. To view a Dallas Morning News article which summarizes highlights of the Plan, click here. To view the actual Implementation Plan, click here.


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12/04/17 Special Masters File Implementation Plan
09/21/17 MCLE Webcasts on Trial Skills Rescheduled
09/20/17 Important Trauma Training - Deadline 9/25
09/05/17 Resources to Help Displaced Children
09/01/17 Receive or Provide Hurricane Help
08/28/17 Supreme Ct. Emergency Order re CPS Cases
08/24/17 MCLE Webcasts on Trial Skills - Postponed
08/01/17 Petition for Child Protection Law Section
07/21/17 Legislative Update & Webcast on July 24
06/01/17 Attorney Training Scholarships- Due June 5
04/14/17 Key Hearing on 2 CPS Reform Bills on 4/17
04/14/17 Call for Nominations - Deadline May 1
04/06/17 Key Hearing on AAL Appointment - April 10
03/23/17 Key Hearing on 2 CPS Reform Bills on 3/27
03/17/17 Key Hearing on 3 CPS Reform Bills on 3/20
03/08/17 Contact House Human Services Committee
03/07/17 HB 6 & Privatization of Case Management
03/01/17 Texas Senate Passes CPS Reform Bill SB 11
03/01/17 House Passes HB 4 & 5 to Reform CPS
02/14/17 Board Certification on Child Welfare Law
02/03/17 Child Protection Day Rally at Capitol-2/7
02/03/17 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 2/5
01/31/17 Key Hearing on Bill to Change DFPS - 2/2
01/30/17 See House CPS Workgroup Press Conference
01/09/17 Interim Order in Federal Class Action
12/10/16 New Federal Education Law - ESSA
11/04/16 See Special Masters' Recommendations
10/27/16 See Hank Whitman's Emergency Plan
10/12/16 Hearing - CPS Plan to Improve Child Safety
09/27/16 NCJFCJ Implementation Sites - Due 9/30
09/22/16 Key Federal Legislation Pending Now
09/12/16 Congressional Briefing on Right to Counsel
07/08/16 Hearing-House Human Services Cmte 7/12
07/07/16 Latest Appeal Denied in Class Action
06/27/16 Judicial Travel Scholarships - HHS Summit
06/21/16 New Deputy Asst. Commissioner for CPS
05/09/16 Child Welfare Law Specialization - Comment
04/27/16 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due May 2
04/20/16 Celebration of Karyn Purvis on Sat. 4/23
04/15/16 Hear Hon. Scott McCown on CPS Crisis
04/12/16 Loss of Karyn Purvis, Ph.D. on April 12
04/11/16 New Leaders for DFPS & CPS Appointed
03/21/16 Special Masters Appointed in Federal Case
03/10/16 Call for Nominations - Deadline April 1
03/04/16 DFPS Commissioner Specia Resigns Eff. 5/31
02/26/16 Give Input on CPS Caseworker Skills by 3/5
01/26/16 Update on Federal Case on Foster Care
01/04/16 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 1/8
12/17/15 Decision in Foster Care Class Action
11/02/15 Budget Takes from Crime Vicitms Fund
10/28/15 Over-Medication of Foster Children
10/25/15 Report on Misuse of Antipsychotic Drugs
09/09/15 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 9/22
08/11/15 Children's Commission's Legislative Update
07/15/15 Update on Changes to Family Code
06/01/15 Attorney Scholarships- Due 6/15 & 6/22
05/22/15 See Family Code Changes Effective April 2
04/22/15 Key Hearings in House Committees on 4/22
04/20/15 See Legislative Update as of April 20
04/20/15 Key Hearings April 20 on HB 1014 & SB 414
03/31/15 Pending Legislation on Child Protection
03/30/15 Call for Nominations - Deadline April 14
03/05/15 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 3/10
11/19/14 Federal Student Aid for Foster Youth
11/12/14 Public Hearing on HHSC & DFPS Nov. 13
10/10/14 See CPS Case Process Brief & Flowcharts
09/22/14 Help on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
09/12/14 NACC Membership Discount Extended-10/31
09/01/14 New Rules For Screening Foster Parents
08/01/14 Foster Care Redesign Contract Terminated
06/17/14 Key Hearings on DFPS 6/24 & 6/25
06/06/14 Supreme Court Rules on Unfound Ground
06/03/14 Statewide Child Welfare Law Conference
05/30/14 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 6/27
05/15/14 House Select Committee on Child Protection
04/22/14 Key Hearing on Juvenile Justice - 4/22
04/14/14 Key Hearing on Foster Care Redesign - 4/15
03/05/14 April 9 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
02/18/14 New Paper Takes Aim at ICPC Flaws
02/12/14 Key Senate Hearing on CPS - Thurs., 2/20
02/03/14 DOJ Asked to Investigate ICWA Violations
01/21/14 USSC to Interpret Child Porn Restitution
01/17/14 New CPS Asst. Commissioner Appointed
01/17/14 New Transitional Housing for Young Adults
10/22/13 See Legislative Update on Family Code
10/08/13 TLC Now Offers Online CLE Programs
10/04/13 New Resources - Education Advocacy
10/03/13 See Paper Analyzing In re E.C.R.
09/06/13 New Resources - Trauma-Informed Practice
09/05/13 See Compelling Video on ICWA & the Courts
08/23/13 ICE Now Focusing on Parental Interests
08/23/13 See Legislative Update on Child Abuse
08/22/13 Give National Input on Attorney Pay Rates
07/30/13 FBI Thwarts Child Prostitution Scheme
06/26/13 USSC Allows Non-Indian Adoption - ICWA
06/17/13 TX SCt on O Grounds & Removal for "Risk"
06/17/13 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due 7/5
05/28/13 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due 6/14
05/20/13 Statewide Child Welfare Law Conference
04/22/13 Key Legislative Hearings on April 22 & 23
04/16/13 Key Hearings & New Legislative Update
04/03/13 Child-Related Bills with Recent Activity
03/29/13 Child Protection Day at Capitol - April 5
03/29/13 See Updated Legislative Summary
03/20/13 April 8 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
03/12/13 Scholarships for ABA Training-Due April 12
03/11/13 Hearing on Protective Orders - Mar. 12
02/28/13 Study on Mental Health of Detained Youth
02/18/13 Chart of Bills Affecting CPS Cases
02/14/13 Hearing on Child Protection Issues Feb. 19
02/11/13 Key Hearing on DFPS Budget - Feb. 14
02/01/13 Pending Legislation on Child Protection
01/30/13 GAO Report on Use of Title IV-B Funds
01/09/13 New Comm'n on Child Abuse Deaths
01/02/13 Adoption Tax Credit Made Permanent
01/01/13 Congress Passes Bill to Amend FERPA
12/31/12 GAO Report on Children's Mental Health
12/01/12 Judge Specia New Commissioner of DFPS
10/12/12 Deportation Insufficient for Termination
09/13/12 Key Hearing on Foster Care Redesign
08/13/12 LSSS Loses Bid to Privatize Foster Care
08/07/12 ABA Passes Resolution Regarding FASD
07/09/12 TX SCt Rules on Citation by Publication
06/19/12 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 6/28
05/24/12 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due 6/6
05/21/12 Children's Justice Act Grants - Due 6/ 29
05/03/12 Seminal Report -Education of Foster Youth
03/23/12 5th Cir. Decertifies Class re Foster Care
03/15/12 Report - Foster Care Licensing Standards
03/06/12 Report on Effect of CPS Budget on Services
02/03/12 TLC Replicates Online Center for Alabama
01/19/12 TX Settles Risperdal Suit for $158M
01/09/12 April 13 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
12/15/11 Bench Book on Child-Friendly Courtrooms
10/17/11 BBC Report on US Child Abuse Deaths
10/01/11 New Law on Foster Youth Identity Theft
09/29/11 NCJFCJ Judicial Training Scholarships
09/28/11 See Legislative Summary Regarding CPS
09/19/11 Study on Link Between Recession & Abuse
08/17/11 See Texas Child Well-Being Statistics
08/07/11 Possible Court Protest on Friday, Aug. 12
07/13/11 See Legislative Update on Child Abuse
06/20/11 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 6/24
06/20/11 USSC Rules Re Child Support Obligor
06/16/11 USSC Holds Age Is a Factor for Miranda
05/05/11 Foster Care Redesign- Comment by 6/1
05/05/11 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 5/20
04/11/11 See Legislative Update re Child Protection
03/31/11 Scholarships for ABA Training-Due April 8
03/29/11 Class Action Filed re TX Foster Children
03/15/11 April 1 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
02/25/11 Pending Legislation on Child Protection
12/14/10 Nat'l Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths
12/09/10 Free ABA Training, Dec. 15 at 11:00 am
12/08/10 ABA Seeks Input on Youth in Court
11/19/10 TLC Receives Award for Innovation
10/11/10 TLC Selected as Award Finalist
09/29/10 Faller Discusses Parental Alienation Issue
09/21/10 TX Ranks 50th in Child Abuse Prevention
09/20/10 New Report on Deaths From Child Abuse
09/14/10 Abused, Undocumented Children
08/11/10 Paper on Constitutional Rights of Children
08/11/10 R. Darin Darby Receives State Bar Award
08/10/10 ABA Policies on Child Abuse Proceedings
07/27/10 Jeffs' Convictions Reversed & Remanded
07/22/10 Child Abuse Cmte. Celebrates 25 Years
07/01/10 Travis County Model Court Newsletter
06/30/10 Scholarships for Child Abuse Workshop
05/01/10 DFPS to Redesign Foster Care in Texas
04/30/10 Shaken Baby Injuries Rise
04/15/10 See Letters by Hon, John Specia (Ret.)
04/13/10 Model Court's Seminar on Family Finding
04/09/10 Managing Attorney Position Open in Austin
03/24/10 April 1 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
03/18/10 NACC Reports on Nebraska GAL System
03/17/10 Third Circuit Issues First Sexting Opinion
03/02/10 Annual Report from Austin Model Court
02/26/10 Childress to Answer Judges' Questions
02/25/10 NACC Scholarships Available on March 1
02/18/10 New Tools for Judges in JD Cases
02/12/10 CCCP Releases 2009-10 Databook
12/16/09 See GAO Report on Seclusion & Restraint
11/10/09 "Sexploited" Teens Testify to House Cmte.
10/29/09 Challenge to TX Public-Indecency Law
10/28/09 Scholarships -Juv. Drug Court Training
10/26/09 FLDS Criminal Trial Begins in Eldorado
10/21/09 TX Leads Nation in Child Abuse Deaths
09/29/09 New Email Network for Drug Court Judges
09/22/09 Pro Bono Attorneys Available to Help You
08/11/09 See Charles Childress' Legislative Update
08/03/09 Richard Lavallo Receives State Bar Award
08/01/09 TLC's Director Receives National Award
07/16/09 See Update on Legislation Impacting CPS
07/01/09 See Legislative Update on Child Abuse
06/29/09 Paper on Gates Case Implications
06/25/09 USSC Finds AZ Strip Search Illegal
06/19/09 Gov. Perry Vetoes SB 1440
04/01/09 Charles Childress Joins TLC's Team
04/01/09 Raise Awareness About Child Abuse
03/10/09 Read House Testimony on CPS
03/02/09 Understanding Fostering Connections
02/28/09 Pending Legislation on Child Abuse
02/17/09 Call for Nominations for State Bar Award
02/12/09 Federal Court Decides Autism Case
02/04/09 CPPP Analyzes CPS Caseworker Turnover
01/06/09 See 2009 Statistics on Texas Children
12/22/08 See DFPS' Report on Eldorado FLDS Case
12/17/08 Representing Immigrant Children
12/12/08 Shop Online, Save Money, & Help TLC!
12/10/08 TLC Launches Website for California
11/17/08 Report on Medical Plan for Foster Children
11/03/08 Report on Impact of Federal Law on TX
10/13/08 Sex Offenders Must Register Email
10/08/08 Child Pornography Prosecution Expanded
10/08/08 Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
10/07/08 New Federal Child Welfare Law
09/22/08 TDFPS Kinship Care Program Evaluated
09/10/08 Association of Child Protection Judges
08/22/08 TDFPS Issues Advisory After Gates
08/18/08 Hon. S. McCown re 4th Amendment
08/11/08 Charles Childress Receives Award
08/01/08 FLDS Children's Attorney Reimbursement
07/28/08 Fourth Amendment & CPS Investigations
06/25/08 Death Penalty for Child Rape Rejected
06/25/08 USSC Upholds Confrontation Right
06/02/08 Judge Orders Return of FLDS Children
05/29/08 Supreme Court Denies Writ in FLDS Case
05/22/08 Court of Appeals Rules in FLDS Case
05/19/08 USSC Rules on Child Pornography
05/16/08 Mentors Available for FLDS Attorneys
05/01/08 Amicus Brief Filed in FLDS Case
04/14/08 TLC Is Assisting in FLDS Case
04/14/08 FLDS Case Needs Pro Bono Mentors
03/17/08 CJE: Family Violence & Child Abuse Credit
03/17/08 May 9 CLE on Child Molesters
02/02/08 See Report on Educating Foster Children
12/20/07 TLC's Director on Commission's Council
12/05/07 CJA Grant Funds Are Available
11/30/07 Supreme Court Awards Grant to TLC
11/20/07 Supreme Court Creates New Commission
11/12/07 ABA Center Staff Attorney Job Posting
11/01/07 FASD Funding for Courts and Others
10/08/07 See Report on Federal Funds for CPS
09/25/07 Supreme Court Holds Public Hearing
09/11/07 Supreme Court Sets Public Hearing
08/24/07 See Sampson's Legislative Update
08/13/07 Hon. Gil Jones Serves as Moderator
08/09/07 Hurley Honored by State Bar Committee
07/17/07 See TLC's Legislative Update
06/19/07 SB 758 Repeals CPS Privatization
05/31/07 Exciting Communication Tool for Judges!
05/31/07 TLC Begins Pro Bono Network
04/04/07 CA Is First State to Use TLC Model
04/03/07 CPPP Issues Paper on Privatization
03/22/07 SB 758 Committee Substitute Filed
03/15/07 Dr. Kellogg Available for Questions
01/22/07 CPPP Issues Child Protection Papers
12/10/06 Website Helps Youth Transition
12/06/06 Bill Filed to Deprivatize Certain Services
11/30/06 Nat'l Methamphetamine Awareness Day
11/14/06 Sen. Nelson Considers CPS Privatization
11/09/06 Class Action Against FL Agency
10/25/06 Dr. Bruce Perry to Speak in Dallas
10/14/06 Child Welfare Law Specialists Certified
08/10/06 Statement of Points Must Be Specific
08/03/06 Frivolous Hearing Held Constitutional
07/14/06 Uniform Act Regarding Children Published
05/16/06 Standing Challenged by Motion to Dismiss
03/29/06 Unborn Child Drug Convictions Reversed
03/27/06 C. Childress Joins Colleague Connection!
02/28/06 AG Says 'Meet' w/ Child Means in Person
02/09/06 Houston Court Upholds Embryo Contract
01/16/06 Link to CPS & Licensing Handbooks Here
12/28/05 AG Says New Law Is Unconstitutional
11/14/05 Evidence Expert to Take Site Users' Calls
10/11/05 ABA Substance Abuse CLE to Be at SMU
07/22/05 Can't Find It Here? Request a Resource!
07/22/05 See Sampson/Tindall's Legislative Update
06/27/05 USSC Rules on Protective Orders
06/15/05 Colleague Connection Has GROWN!
06/01/05 TLC Helps Other States Create Websites
05/31/05 Senate Bill 6 Makes Sweeping Changes
05/15/05 Seek/Share Information on Experts
05/07/05 TLC's Coming Attractions
02/17/05 Questions? Contact TLC's Help Desk
VIEW ALL OTHER NEWS ITEMS(If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here.)
02/25/11   See Summary of Pending Legislation Affecting Child Protection

Sandra Hachem, Senior Assistant County Attorney for Harris County, prepares summaries of pending legislation relating to child protection for the State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (the "Committee"). These summaries include comments where there are items of possible concern or other issues of note. TLC thanks Ms. Hachem for allowing us to share these summaries with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. Please note that the comments do not reflect the official position of the Committee or of TLC. To view the summaries of key bills filed through February 15, 2011, click here.

12/14/10   National Coalition Calls Attention to Strategies to End Child Abuse Deaths

On December 14, 2010, the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths held a news conference to bring attention to the lack of national media coverage of child abuse deaths. Deaths of children from abuse and neglect outnumber deaths that receive much more national coverage, such as deaths from the H1N1 virus, Toyota automobile malfunctions, food-borne illnesses, military incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and coal mining. The coalition outlined seven initiatives to end child abuse deaths, including: developing a governmental strategy aimed at strengthening families and preventing maltreatment, additional spending to lower caseloads and increase training of caseworkers, requiring states to adopt national standards for protecting children, revising confidentiality laws, starting a public education campaign on reporting abuse, and creating a protocol for coordinating legal proceedings between child protection and law enforcement agencies. The coalition consists of the National Association of Social Workers, National Center for Child Death Review, National Children's Alliance, Every Child Matters Education Fund, and National District Attorneys Association. To view the Coalition's recommendations, click here.

12/09/10   ABA Offers Free Web-Based Training for Parents' Attorneys Handling CPS Appeals

On December 15, 2010, at 11 a.m. Central Time, the American Bar Association will host a free web-based training for attorneys who represent parents appealing child welfare cases. The training will provide tips for appellate attorneys and will cover how to file an appeal and discuss common occurrences that may arise during an appeal, including constitutional issues and incorrect rulings on pre-trial motions. Click here to view the announcement of the training, which includes information on how to register.

12/08/10   ABA Center on Children and the Law's Bar-Youth Empowerment Project Is Seeking Input on Attendance of Children and Youth at Court Hearings

The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law's Bar-Youth Empowerment Project, directed by Andrea Khoury, would like to evaluate the frequency with which children and youth attend court hearings across the country and is asking that judges and attorneys answer questions about the practice in their jurisdictions. To participate in the survey, click here. The Center on Children and the Law started the Bar-Youth Empowerment Project to improve outcomes for youth currently in foster care, as well as young people who have aged out of care, by promoting youth participation in court cases that affect them and offering access to legal counseling and representation to youth in need of specialized legal assistance. For more information about the project, click here.

11/19/10   TLC's Online Center Is Honored with the "Award for Excellence in Social Innovation"

Texas Loves Children, Inc., the nonprofit organization that created and operates the Texas Lawyers for Children Online Legal Resource and Communication Center, was honored with the "Award for Excellence in Social Innovation" for TLC's Online Center by the Dallas Center for Nonprofit Management, after selection by an independent panel of community leaders. This prestigious award is given to the organization that best provides "a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient and sustainable... and demonstrates significant positive change around a specific social issue." The award ceremony was held during the "Night of Light" gala on November 19, 2010, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, with 700 people in attendance. To see a photo of TLC's Director, Barbara Elias-Perciful accepting the award from Ms. Gillian Breidenbach, click here.

10/11/10   TLC Has Been Selected as One of Three Finalists for the Award for Excellence in Social Innovation

We are excited to let you know that TLC has been selected as one of three finalists for the Award for Excellence in Social Innovation to be given by the Dallas Center for Nonprofit Management. The nomination process is extremely competitive, so we are thrilled to be recognized as one of the top three Dallas nonprofits in the award category for organizations that provide "a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient and sustainable... and demonstrates significant positive change around a specific social issue." The nomination is for TLC's Online Legal Resource and Communication Center. The award ceremony will be held on November 19 at the Hilton Anatole with Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow as the Master of Ceremonies.

09/29/10   Kathleen Coulborn Faller, Ph.D., Summarizes APSAC's Concerns about Possible Inclusion of Parental Alienation in Upcoming DSM-V

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), a leading national organization supporting professionals who serve children and families affected by child maltreatment and violence, has concerns about a proposal to include parental alienation syndrome or disorder in the Amercian Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), to be published in 2013. Nineteen leading researchers, teachers, and clinicians with extensive experience in the area of family dissolution and child response to family break-up have signed a letter expressing concern as well. Kathleen Coulborn Faller, Ph.D., summarizes APSAC's concerns in a paper outlining weaknesses of the proposed diagnostic criteria. Click here to view Dr. Faller's summary.

09/21/10   The Center for Public Policy Priorities Notes that Texas Ranks Last in Child Abuse Prevention Coverage and Issues a Policy Paper on How to Improve Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

In a recent policy paper, the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) calls for prevention of child abuse and neglect to be a greater priority in Texas. CPPP notes that, compared to other states, Texas ranks 50th in the rate of child abuse and neglect prevention coverage. In Texas, about 5 of every 1,000 children receive prevention services, while the national average is almost nine times higher, at about 44 of every 1,000 children. The prevention services which are provided by Child Protective Services are administered by the Prevention and Intervention (PEI) division. PEI's budget is only about 3 percent of the overall budget of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). In response to the legislature's request for a 10 percent budget reduction, DFPS has proposed an 84 percent reduction in the current PEI budget. CPPP urges that PEI's already small budget not be cut in the upcoming legislative session and makes specific recommendations on how PEI can prioritize where its services are provided to have maximum impact. Click here to view the paper.

09/20/10   Every Child Matters Education Fund Releases We Can Do Better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America

On September 20, 2010, Every Child Matters Education Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the adoption of legislation that makes children, youth, and families a national priority, released a report on deaths from child abuse and neglect. This report, We Can Do Better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America, provides statistics on deaths from child abuse and neglect and suggests legislation to prevent abuse and lower the number of children killed. Every Child Matters is a member of the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, which includes the National Center for Child Death Review, National Children's Alliance, the National District Attorneys Association, and the National Association of Social Workers. The coalition is bringing national attention to this issue and advocating a national strategy to end these preventable deaths. The first edition of the report was followed by a national summit, which generated recommendations and formation of the coalition. The coalition briefed Congressional staffers on the issue, and the General Accounting Office began a study of deaths in the child welfare system. The coalition also generated a petition requesting that Congress conduct hearings on child abuse deaths. Click here to view the report.

09/14/10   The Center for Public Policy Priorities Has Issued a New Report on Undocumented, Abused and Neglected Children

On September 14, 2010, the Center for Public Policy Priorities issued a report that examines the problem of undocumented children who suffer abuse and neglect in this country. Who are these children, and why is it unworkable to send them back to their country of origin? The paper offers suggestions for system improvements to allow these children to obtain legal residency and for aligning immigration and child welfare laws to protect this population. Click here to view the report.

08/11/10   Paper Examines Various Constitutional Rights of Children

In a paper presented at the Advanced Family Law Course in August, TLC's Director, Barbara Elias-Perciful examines various constitutional rights of children that can impact child protection cases. Among others, the rights discussed include the right to effective assistance of counsel, the right to sibling access, the right to protection and proper care when in state custody, and the right to maintain family relationships. Click here to view the paper.

08/11/10   Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect Honors R. Darin Darby with Fairy Davenport Rutland Award

The State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (the "Child Abuse Committee") honored R. Darin Darby as the recipient of its annual Fairy Davenport Rutland Award for Distinguished Service to Children and Families. The award is named after Ms. Rutland in recognition of her exceptional leadership as a founding member and chair of the Committee for over 20 years and her continuing dedication and many contributions to the field of child welfare. The current Chair of the Child Abuse Committee, Barbara Elias-Perciful, presented the award to Mr. Darby at the Advanced Family Law Course in August. Mr. Darby is a Felony Chief Prosecutor in the Crimes Against Children Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office, where he prosecutes sex offenders and others who injure children. He is devoted to protecting children and advocating for those children who have been victimized by physical and sexual abuse. Click here to view the 4 letters in support of Mr. Darby's nomination. Click here to see a picture of the award presentation.

08/10/10   ABA Affirms Child's Right to Counsel at All Stages of Child Protection Proceedings and Adopts Policies for Court Improvement

At its annual meeting in August, the American Bar Association adopted several policies concerning children and parents in the justice system. Most notable is a policy calling child custody a "basic human need" in access to justice. In its new "Model Access Act," the ABA makes clear that there should be a right to legal representation of children in any proceedings initiated by government "for the purposes of child protective intervention." The ABA also clarifies that in child abuse and neglect related proceedings, the child's legal representation should extend "as long as jurisdiction continues." The ABA policies also call for full, prompt, and expansive implementation of the "older youth provisions" of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. Finally, the ABA approved the first comprehensive set of national administrative standards for courts hearing child abuse and neglect civil proceedings. These Judicial Excellence Standards were developed by a multidisciplinary committee and were previously endorsed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Click here to view the ABA's announcement about the policies.

07/27/10   Utah Supreme Court Reverses Warren Jeffs' Convictions for Rape as an Accomplice and Remands for New Trial

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was convicted in Utah of 2 counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the compelled marriage of 14-year-old Elissa Wall to her 19-year-old cousin and the subsequent sexual intercourse between them. He was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of 5 years to life. Finding that the trial court's jury instructions on sexual consent were erroneous, the court reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, saying, "We regret the effect our opinion today may have on the victim of the underlying crime, to whom we do not wish to cause additional pain. However, we must ensure that the laws are applied evenly and appropriately, in this case as in every case, in order to protect the constitutional principles on which our legal system is based. We must guarantee justice, not just for this defendant, but for all who may be accused of a crime and subjected to the State's power to deprive them of life, liberty, or property hereafter." Click here to read the court's opinion.

07/22/10   You Are Invited to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the State Bar of Texas Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect at a Reception Featuring Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill (Ret.) as Keynote Speaker

The State Bar of Texas Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect invites you to join in celebrating its 25th Anniversary at a reception featuring Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill (Ret.) as the keynote speaker. Justice O'Neill is Chair Emeritus of the Texas Supreme Court Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. The festivities will be part of the annual Advanced Family Law Course to be held in San Antonio. The reception will immediately follow the Committee's full-day workshop and will be held from 5:00-6:30 pm in the Terrace Room of the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel, 801 Bowie, on Wednesday, August 11, 2010. Click here to view the invitation.

07/01/10   Travis County Model Court for Children and Families Issues First Newsletter

The Travis County Model Court for Children and Families has issued its first newsletter. This installment focuses on the successful initiative conducted in March 2010 called "Explore UT," where 40 foster youth toured the UT campus and engaged in a number of events designed to introduce them to the many ways that attending college can impact their futures. The newsletter also discusses the Family Finding and Youth Connectedness Training the court hosted in April 2010, as well as other initiatives the court has underway. TLC thanks Hon. Darlene Byrne for graciously sharing information about her model court on an ongoing basis for the benefit of others around the state who may wish to undertake similar initiatives. Click here to view the newsletter.

06/30/10   Children's Commission Offers Registration Scholarships for Child Abuse and Neglect Workshop — Deadline July 21

The Texas Supreme Court Children's Commission is offering a limited number of attorney scholarships to pay for registration for the one-day Child Abuse and Neglect Workshop at the State Bar's Advanced Family Law Conference on August 11, 2010, in San Antonio. Travel and lodging are not included in the scholarship. The workshop is being sponsored by the State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is 5:00 pm on July 21. To view the requirements to be eligible and to access the application form, click here.

05/01/10   DFPS Launches Major Foster Care Redesign Project

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) launched a foster care redesign project in January 2010. Objectives include determining the location and types of services needed, how to contract for quality services, and how to pay for the services. Guiding principles include placing children in their home communities and minimizing moves that disrupt children's personal connections and educational progress. DFPS contracted with Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago to compile data on outcomes, process of care, service quality, and system capacity. The PDF Group, LLC, will provide project management, including collaboration with external stakeholders. DFPS will make recommendations to the 2011 Texas Legislature regarding structuring foster care contracts and appropriations to promote desired outcomes for children, implications of system changes, and a way to balance demand and supply for foster care services. For more information, click here.

04/30/10   New Study Shows Number of Deaths and Injuries from Shaken Baby Syndrome Increased in Recession

A story on dated April 30, 2010, reported on a review of 511 abusive head trauma cases at four U.S. children's hospitals. In the months after December 2007, at the beginning of the recession, the number of cases rose by 55 percent. According to the leader of the study, Dr. Rachel P. Berger, a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center brain injury specialist, a "perfect storm" of increased stress, increased poverty, and cuts in social services are to blame. Click here to view the article.

04/15/10   Hon. John Specia (Ret.) Is Producing Letters for Judges Hearing CPS Cases

Hon. John Specia (Ret.), who is serving as Jurist in Residence with the Texas Office of Court Administration, is producing a series of letters giving current and compelling information for judges hearing CPS cases. In order to reach as many judges as possible with this information and in order to make the information available to attorneys as well, Judge Specia has graciously agreed to allow TLC to post these letters here. The first letter in this series provides information on health services for children in foster care through the STAR Health Program and information on psychotropic medication. Click here to view it. The second letter concerns opportunities for judges and attorneys to be provided in 2010 by the Texas Supreme Court Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. Click here to view it. The third letter discusses the Permanency Care Assistance Program (PCA), which is how Texas plans to implement a very important aspect of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 and includes an update regarding verification under the new PCA program. Click here to view it. These letters can also be found by topic or title in the section on Articles/Papers.

04/13/10   Hon. Darlene Byrne, Travis County Model Court Lead Judge, Hosts Training on Finding Families, with Speaker Kevin Campbell, Youth Permanency Expert

On April 13, 2010, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families sponsored the Family Search and Connectedness Training at the Austin Children's Center. Hon. Darlene Byrne, Model Court Lead Judge, hosted the seminar. The speaker was Kevin Campbell, Director of the Seneca Center for Family Finding and Lifelong Connections and internationally known youth permanency expert. To read highlights from the seminar, click here. For more information about Campbell's training programs, click here.

04/09/10   Travis County Seeks Managing Attorney for Office of Parental Representation

Travis County is seeking a Managing Attorney for the Office of Parental Representation. The office provides representation of parents in civil matters related to child abuse and neglect. Job dutuies of the Managing Attorney include overseeing personnel, case handling, resources, and operations of the office. Interested attorneys should apply immediately through Travis County, as interviewing of candidates has already begun. To view the job posting, click here.

03/24/10   The State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect Seeks Nominations for Its Annual Fairy Davenport Rutland Award for Distinguished Service to Children and Families

The State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect is seeking nominations for its annual Fairy Davenport Rutland Award for Distinguished Service to Children and Families. The award is named after Ms. Rutland in recognition of her exceptional leadership as a founding member and chair of the Committee for over 20 years and her continuing dedication and many ongoing contributions to the field of child welfare. The award honors an attorney who has made a substantial contribution to the field of advocacy for abused and neglected children. The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2010. Click here to view the nomination form.

03/18/10   National Association of Counsel for Children Studies GAL System in Nebraska

The National Association of Counsel for Children recently completed a report for the Nebraska Legislature, titled "Evaluation of the Guardian Ad Litem System in Nebraska." The NACC studied the state's system of child representation in abuse and neglect and delinquency cases. The report found that the guardian ad litem system in Nebraska is failing the state's children because appointees are not accountable. While children are statutorily entitled to have an attorney appointed as a guardian ad litem in every case, the report noted that the state does not have a uniform system of representation nor a uniform set of practice standards. The report also stated that guardians frequently do not inform the court of their clients' views of the case and do not receive adequate training. It also said that appointees are often a rubber stamp for the state's department of human services instead of zealous advocates for their child clients. The NACC's recommendations included establishing a statewide entity to oversee GALs, instituting mandatory practice standards, monitoring of guardians ad litem, caseload caps, and a mentoring program for new guardians ad litem. To download the report, click here.

03/17/10   Third Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Prosecution for "Sexting" While Civil Rights Trial Is Pending

On March 17, 2010, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district court's injunction that barred a Pennsylvania district attorney from prosecuting a teenager for "sexting." The district attorney had threatened to prosecute the child for felony child pornography unless she attended a class and wrote an essay. The child's mother filed suit on her behalf, alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment violations. The court of appeals decided that the mother was likely to prevail on her claims, as the activity in which her daughter engaged was not illegal; therefore, she was entitled to an injunction against prosecution until the case was resolved. The opinion details the lessons to be taught in the class designed by the district attorney and social services agencies, noting that the lessons taught invaded the parental right to direct the moral upbringing of children. The court found that the essay required to be written under threat of prosecution was a violation of the child's right of free expression. Click here to view the court's opinion.

03/02/10   Hon. Darlene Byrne Graciously Shares the Annual Report from her Model Court in Austin

Hon Darlene Byrne is graciously sharing information about her Model Court in Austin so that TLC can make it available to others who may be interested in starting such a court. The annual report on her court includes the goals for last year, action steps taken to reach the goals, barriers faced, and lessons learned. It also includes the goals for 2010. TLC thanks Judge Byrne for allowing us to share her work with others statewide. Click here

02/26/10   Charles Childress to Answer Judges' Questions on Legal Issues

Family law expert Charles Childress, who is TLC's volunteer consulting attorney and a commentator for Sampson & Tindall's Texas Family Code Ann., will answer judges' questions on legal issues as available. To submit a question, judges may simply send an email to Mr. Childress' response will be sent to Hon. Gil Jones to transmit to the Colleague Connection -- Judicial email network. Judges who are not yet registered for this email network may do so by signing in on this website's home page. Then, from "Communication Tools" on the blue menu bar above, click on "Colleague Connection Email Networks" and follow the registration instructions to "Join List" for colleagueconnectionjudicial, which is the first email network listed on the page. (TLC also has new email networks for Drug Court Judges and for Juvenile Law Judges, and judges can register for all 3 networks.) Participation in all judicial email networks is strictly limited to active Texas judges and those sitting by assignment. For registration questions, please contact TLC's Help Desk at 800-993-5TLC (5852). Click here to view Mr. Childress' resume.

02/25/10   Scholarships Are Available for Attorneys to Attend the 33rd Annual NACC Conference

Starting on March 1, 2010, attorneys can apply for scholarships to attend the 33rd Annual Conference of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). The National Juvenile and Family Law Conference will be conducted in Austin from October 20-23, 2010. Sponsored by the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families (Children's Commission) and presented by the NACC, this multi-disciplinary conference is for attorneys who represent children, parents, and DFPS in child protective services (CPS) cases. The Children's Commission supports efforts to improve the quality of legal representation in CPS cases. To meet this goal, the Children's Commission is offering registration scholarships to qualifying Texas attorneys to attend this conference -- a great opportunity to receive CLE in this important area of law! Click here for details on how to apply.

02/18/10   TLC Launches New Communication Tools for Judges Handling Juvenile Delinquency Cases

TLC is pleased to announce the launch of a new email network, "Colleague Connection--Juvenile Law Judges," as well as a new Discussion Board and Document Vault, for judges handling juvenile delinquency cases. Participation in all three of these secure, private communication tools is strictly limited to active Texas judges. Judges can use the email network to seek colleagues' expertise on questions of interest and to discuss best practices. The Discussion Board provides a place for ongoing statewide dialogue. The Document Vault allows judges to share documents with each other. TLC thanks Hon. Gil Jones for serving as the moderator for these tools. To enroll in the email network or to access the other tools, judges who are already registered for the TLC website's services can sign in and go to "Communication Tools" on the blue menu bar above. Be sure to enroll today so you don't miss out on the messages! You are always welcome to call TLC's Help Desk at 800-993-5TLC (5852) with any questions.

02/12/10   CCCP Releases Its 2009-2010 Databook on Texas Child Well-Being and Announces Partnership with the Census Bureau

The Center for Public Policy Priorities released its latest publication, The State of Texas Children: Texas KIDS COUNT Annual Data Book 2009-2010. The databook contains a county-by-county online data snapshot of Texas children's well-being. It also shows how reductions in state spending for child well-being have kept Texas among the states with the highest child poverty rates. Click here to access the databook. Also, CCCP is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to increase participation in the census by hard-to-reach households, especially those with young children. The CCCP census page explains why it is difficult to count young children and how other organizations and individuals can help get an accurate count. This page also has articles on why it is important that Texas get an accurate count of residents. To listen to an archived webinar on the importance of the census and how you or your organization can help, click here.

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