Recent News


04/14/17   House Human Services Committee Is Conducting a Hearing on 2 Key CPS Reform Bills on April 17

The Texas House Human Services Committee is conducting a hearing on 2 key CPS Reform bills, among others, starting at 9:00 am on Monday, April 17, 2017. HB 205 requires that before a court may order a parent to participate in services or permit the child to receive services provided by the Department, the court MUST conduct a trial, and the Dept. must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the parent abused or neglected the child or is likely to do so in the immediate or foreseeable future. The bill also requires the court to appoint an attorney for the parent without reference to a finding of indigency. SB 11 (previously discussed) includes provisions that transfer ALL case management services to a private contractor in areas where Foster Care Redesign (being renamed "Community Based Foster Care") is being implemented. As you know, TLC is against privatizing case management services, but if it must happen, TLC believes the roll-out plan in HB 6 is preferable to the one in SB 11. HB 6 requires that before transferring case management services, the Department must have first successfully transferred foster care services to the private contractor. To view the notice listing all bills to be heard on Monday, click here. For the text of HB 205, click here, and for SB 11, click here.


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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
02/03/17 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
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03/29/13   Child Protection Day Rally Is at Noon, Friday, April 5 on South Steps of Capitol

Over 20 child protection organizations are working together to organize a Rally for "Child Protection Day" at noon on Friday, April 5, on the South Steps of the Capitol to ask the public and legislators to keep child protection a top priority. In order to have a strong showing of support for child protection, the organizers are hoping to have 1,000 people on the South Steps. They are asking participants to wear royal blue, the child abuse prevention color, to the Rally. For further details about the Rally, click here.

03/29/13   Texas CASA Has Updated Its Chart of Bills to Show Recent Legislative Activity

Texas CASA, through the efforts of intern Lara Bubalo, has updated its chart of bills affecting children and families in CPS cases to show recent legislative activity regarding the bills included. Andrea Sparks, Director of Public Affairs for Texas CASA, has provided this update to TLC to be shared with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. TLC thanks Ms. Sparks, Ms. Bubalo, and Texas CASA for providing this information. Please note that comments included in the chart regarding priority issues for various organizations do not reflect the position of TLC. To view the update, click here.

03/20/13   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 8, 2013. Click here to view the nomination form.

03/12/13   Children's Commission Is Providing Scholarships for Attorneys to Attend ABA Training — Deadline 5:00 pm on April 12

The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is providing scholarships of the registration fee and 3 nights' hotel expenses for Texas attorneys to attend either of the following two highly acclaimed national training conferences sponsored by the American Bar Association and relating to representation of children and parents in child protection cases: the Third National Parent's Attorney Conference on July 10 & 11 in Washington, DC, and the Fifteenth National Conference on Children and the Law on July 12 & 13, also in DC. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is 5:00 pm on Friday, April 12. To be complete, an application must include a letter of recommendation from the attorney's presiding judge. To view information about the application process and to access the application form, click here.

03/11/13   Key Senate Hearing Regarding Protective Orders Will Be Conducted on Tuesday, March 12

SB130 has been scheduled to be heard in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 1:30 pm or upon adjournment, in Room 2E.20 (Betty King Cmte. Rm.). This bill clarifies that a prosecuting attorney who represents a party in obtaining a protective order is not precluded from representing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. To see the hearing notice, click here. To watch the hearing live, click here.

02/28/13   OJJDP Publishes the Results of a Study on the Mental Health Needs of Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

The Northwestern Juvenile Project (NJP) is a longitudinal study that investigated the mental health needs and long-term outcomes of youth detained in the juvenile justice system. NJP studied a randomly selected sample of 1,829 youth who were arrested and detained between 1995 and 1998. While many studies examine the connection between risk factors and the onset of delinquency, far fewer studies follow youth after they are arrested and detained. The NJP study found that the mental health needs of youth detained in the juvenile justice system are far greater than those in the general population and that the mental health needs of these youth are largely untreated. The study found that among detainees with major psychiatric disorders and functional impairment, only 5% had been treated in the detention center before release. To view the bulletin, click here.

02/18/13   See Chart of Bills Affecting Children and Families in CPS Cases

Texas CASA, through the efforts of intern Lara Bubalo, has created a chart of bills affecting children and families in CPS cases. Andrea Sparks, Director of Public Affairs for Texas CASA, has provided this chart to TLC to be shared with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. TLC thanks Ms. Sparks, Ms. Bubalo, and Texas CASA for providing this information. Please note that comments included in the chart regarding priority issues for various organizations do not reflect the position of TLC. To view the chart, click here.

02/14/13   Key Senate Hearing on Child Protection Issues Will Be Conducted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Chamber, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear several bills involving important child protection issues. Some of the bills and brief summaries are listed below. SB 425 - strengthens the Family Code's requirements that CPS consult with attorneys ad litem, guardians ad litem, and CASA's in making placement decisions. A committee substitute to SB 425 may be filed adding the provision of HB 1185, which eliminates the requirement that attorneys ad litem and guardians ad litem destroy records relating to children upon termination of the appointment. This would allow attorneys and CASA's to retain files for use in the event a child comes back into care. SB 426 - expands Home Visiting programs across the State so that more families can access such services. (Home visiting has been shown to reduce the rate of child abuse and neglect and to improve the health, educational, social-emotional, cognitive, and other outcomes for children.) SB 429 - says that prior to CPS case dismissal, judges must consider what other orders are needed to best protect the child. Such orders could include child support and visitation, among others. To see the hearing notice, click here. To watch the hearing live, click here.

02/11/13   Key Legislative Hearing on DFPS Budget Will Be Conducted on Thursday, February 14, 2013

On Thursday, February 14, 2013, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II (Health and Human Services) will hear budget recommendations regarding the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. To see the hearing notice, click here. To watch the hearing live, click here.

02/01/13   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 affecting child protection, click here.

01/30/13   GAO Finds That States Still Struggle to Meet Child Welfare Service Needs Despite Use of Flexible Federal Funds

The Government Accounting Office has issued a report on its study of how selected states use the flexible funding offered under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act. The GAO looked at specific uses of the funds, what alternative federal funds states use, and what services child welfare agencies have difficulty securing for children. The report notes that child welfare agencies face a variety of challenges that make it difficult for them to secure services such as parenting classes and substance abuse treatment. To read the report, click here.

01/09/13   New Federal Law Creates National Commission to Study and Develop Strategies to End Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths

On January 9, 2013, President Obama signed H.R. 6655, "An Act to Protect our Kids," into law. The Act creates a new national commission to develop a comprehensive strategy for reducing child deaths due to abuse and neglect. The 12-person multidisciplinary commission will be appointed by the President and Congress.

01/02/13   Adoptive Parents with Tax Liability Will Be Eligible for Tax Credits

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made the adoption tax credit permanent. It, however, did not make the adoption credit refundable, so it will only benefit those adoptive families who have a federal income tax liability. The North American Council on Adoptable Children recommends that those who adopted a child in 2012 submit a Form 8839 with their 2012 taxes even if they do not have a tax liability. Although they will not receive an adoption credit refund with their 2012 taxes, the credit can be carried forward up to five additional years. Families might benefit later if either their tax situation changes or the credit is made refundable in the future, and then they won't have to amend their 2012 taxes. For more information, click here.

01/01/13   Congress Passes Bill to Amend FERPA in Order to Improve Educational Outcomes of Youth in Foster Care

The Uninterrupted Scholars Act (S. 3472), awaiting the President's signature, amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, P.L. 93-380) to ensure child welfare agencies can access school records of students in foster care. Access to educational records will help students recoup lost credits, speed their timely transfer to new schools, and will give social workers and administrators a more complete picture of academic success to guide decisions about the child's well-being. At the same time, the bill preserves educational privacy rights of students and parents as FERPA intends.

12/31/12   GAO Issues Report — "Children's Mental Health: Concerns Remain about Appropriate Services for Children in Medicaid and Foster Care"

The Government Accounting Office undertook a study to address concerns that children with mental health conditions do not always receive appropriate treatment. The report notes that HHS's Administration for Children and Families (ACF) reported that 18 percent of foster children were taking psychotropic medications at the time they were surveyed (utilization varied widely by the child's living arrangement). ACF also reported that 30 percent of foster children who may have needed mental health services did not receive them in the previous 12 months. To read the report click here.

12/01/12   Hon. John J. Specia, Jr. (Ret.) Is Commissioner of DFPS

Hon. John J. Specia, Jr. (Ret.) is the new Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Judge Specia was a founding member of the Texas Supreme Court Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families. He also served as a Jurist in Residence for the Commission. To view further information about Judge Specia's background, click here.

10/12/12   Texas Supreme Court Reverses and Remands Termination Based on Deportation

On October 12, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court reversed a termination of parental rights, which was based in part on the deportation of the parent, and remanded it to the trial court. In this case, In re E.N.C., No. 11-0713, 2012 Tex. LEXIS 866 (Tex. Oct. 12, 2012), the Court said that deportation itself is not sufficient to prove endangering conduct. The father had been convicted, prior to the children's birth, of sexual conduct with a minor in Wisconsin. He left while on probation, went to Texas, married, and had children. When he applied for a green card, the probation violation was spotted, and he was deported. The Court said the Department had offered insufficient evidence of the unlawful act (i.e., it could have been two minors having sex; not known if the act would have been unlawful in Texas; etc.), and mere deportation is not sufficient. The father had had contact with the children and provided support. The Court said the Department should have looked into whether the children could live with him in Mexico, and no service plan had been offered. The Court also found the best interest evidence to be insufficient. To view the Court's opinion, click here.

09/13/12   Texas House Human Services Committee to Hold Key Hearing on Foster Care Redesign on Monday, September 17

On September 17, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., the Texas House of Representatives' Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing (with invited and public testimony) on the implementation of foster care redesign. This hearing will be particularly important in light of DFPS' recent announcement that contract negotiations for foster care redesign in DFPS Region 11 (Corpus Christi & the Valley) have been halted due to the suspension of placement of foster children with Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSSS), which was the entity under consideration for the contract to privatize foster care in Region 11. The hearing will be conducted in Room E2.026 of the Capitol Extension. To view the hearing on the House of Representatives' website, click here.

08/13/12   DFPS Suspends Foster Care Placements with Lutheran Social Services of the South and Declines to Enter a Contract to Privatize Foster Care

On Aug. 13, 2012, the Austin American-Statesman reported that the Department of Family and Protective Services suspended new placements of foster children with Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSSS) due to dozens of safety violations, including child abuse and neglect, at foster homes supervised by three LSSS offices -- Garland, Richardson, and Laredo. In addition, LSSS lost its bid to be one of two organizations chosen to participate in the new program to privatize foster care services. To view the article, click here. To view the letter sent from DFPS to LSSS, citing dozens of violations, click here. For an overview of the foster care redesign project that includes privatization, click here.

08/07/12   The American Bar Association Has Passed a Resolution Urging Legal Professionals to Respond Effectively to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

On August 7, 2012, the American Bar Association passed a resolution urging attorneys and judges, bar associations, and law school clinical programs "to help identify and respond effectively to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in children and adults, through training to enhance awareness of FASD and its impact on individuals in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and adult criminal justice systems and the value of collaboration with medical, mental health, and disability experts." The resolution further urges "the passage of laws, and adoption of policies at all levels of government, that acknowledge and treat the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and better assist individuals with FASD." To view the resolution, click here.

07/09/12   Texas Supreme Court Holds that Parent Invalidly Served by Publication Cannot Be Restricted to Six-Month Bill of Review Deadline

On July 6, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court held that a parent whose rights have been terminated cannot be restricted to a six-month deadline to attack the judgment if citation by publication was constitutionally inadequate to provide notice to the parent. (Mother had filed a petition for bill of review within two years of the date of judgment.) In In re E.R., No. 11-0282, 2012 Tex. LEXIS 582 (Tex. July 6, 2012), the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had served a mother by publication, having told the trial court of the many unsuccessful steps taken to locate her. In fact, however, the Department's caseworker had been in touch with the mother, and the mother had met with the caseworker and had visited her children at the Department's office during the time the caseworker had said she was performing a search for the mother. The caseworker had a telephone number and address for the mother but told the court that the mother had said she was moving. The caseworker also had the maternal grandmother's address and telephone number but did not use either to locate the mother for service. The Court said that the validity of citation by publication is measured by the quality of the diligent search, not the quantity of actions performed. The court of appeals' judgment affirming termination was reversed and remanded to the trial court to determine if the mother had unreasonably delayed seeking relief after learning of the judgment. To read the opinion, click here.

06/19/12   Children's Commission Is Providing Attorney Registration Scholarships for NACC's 35th National Conference - Deadline June 28

The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is generously providing a limited number of scholarships for Texas attorneys to attend the 35th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference sponsored by the National Association of Counsel for Children, which will be held from Aug. 13 - 16, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is the close of business on Thursday, June 28. The scholarship covers registration only and does not include expenses for travel or lodging. To view the requirements to be eligible to apply and to access the application form, click here.

05/24/12   Children's Commission Is Providing Attorney Registration Scholarships for Child Abuse and Neglect Workshop at Advanced Family Law Conference - Deadline June 6

The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is providing a limited number of scholarships for Texas attorneys to attend the one-day Child Abuse and Neglect Workshop at the State Bar's Advanced Family Law Conference on Aug. 8, 2012, in Houston, or for the video replays in S. Padre Island on Oct. 19 and in Dallas on Oct. 26. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is Wednesday, June 6. The scholarship covers registration for the one-day workshop only and does not include expenses for travel or lodging. To access the application form, click here. To view the conference brochure, click here.

05/21/12   Children's Justice Act Project Offers Grants — Deadline June 29, 2012

The Children's Justice Act Project is seeking applications for grants to fund the following types of programs to help abused children: mulitdisciplinary team coordination and response, access to quality victim advocacy and mental health services; multidisciplinary response to child maltreatment victims with disabilities; multidisciplinary response to child maltreatment-related fatalities, recognition and response by the education system to suspected maltreatment, and access to quality medical assessment for child maltreatment victims. The deadline for submitting an application is Friday, June 29th. To view the application form, click here.

05/03/12   Children's Commission Issues Seminal Report on Transforming Education Outcomes for Children & Youth in Foster Care

The Education Committee of the Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families has issued a seminal report -- The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children & Youth in Foster Care. The report is the collaborative effort of over 100 individuals from across Texas, who worked over 18 months to draft this compilation of extensive and very innovative recommendations for jurisdictions to use as a framework for reform. Under the leadership of Chair Hon. Patricia Macias (El Paso) and Vice-Chair Hon. Cheryl Shannon (Dallas), the Education Committee has recommended strategies concerning judicial practices; data and information sharing; multidisciplinary training; school readiness; school stability and transitions; school experience, supports, and advocacy; and post-secondary education. The report includes suggested statutory changes, practical guidance for judicial leadership, and specific ideas for expanded duties of children's attorneys and guardians ad litem -- all with the goal of improving education outcomes for children and youth in foster care. The Education Committee's far-reaching recommendations impact three systems -- the courts, the child welfare system, and the education system -- and set Texas apart as the first state to create such an expansive blueprint for education reform. To view the report, click here.

03/23/12   The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Has Decertified the Class of Foster Children/Youth in Texas Class Action

On March 23, 2012, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decertified the class represented by nine foster children/youth who filed a class action suit on behalf of all children in the permanent managing conservatorship (PMC) of the State of Texas to redress alleged deficiencies in administration of the State's PMC. The Fifth Circuit concluded that the district court's certification order "failed to perform the 'rigorous analysis' that is required in order to find that the proposed class" satisfies the commonality requirement of Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Click here to view the Fifth Circuit's opinion.

03/15/12   ABA Center on Children and the Law and Generations United Summarize State Foster Care Licensing Standards and Make Recommendations

In March 2012, Generations United and the ABA Center on Children and the Law issued a report, entitled "Improving Foster Care Licensing Standards around the United States: Using Research Findings to Effect Change," summarizing all 50 states' foster care licensing standards and recommending changes to make standards and their application more uniform. The project was supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report looks at state statutes and regulations with regard to standards such as eligibility (age, citizenship, education, income, etc.), physical and mental health, living environment, transportation, training requirements, home studies, and background checks, as well as different standards for relatives. Recommendations include development of model core standards for all states. To view the report, click here.

03/06/12   Children's Commission Issues Report on Round Table Discussion of FY 2012-2013 Child Protective Services Budget and Its Effect on Services to Children and Families

On March 6, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families (Children's Commission) issued a report concerning a Round Table discussion the Children's Commission co-hosted on November 14, 2011, in collaboration with Casey Family Programs and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), regarding the FY 2012-2013 Child Protective Services budget and its effect on services to children and families. The Center for Public Policy Priorities facilitated the discussion among multiple stakeholders, including members of the judiciary, DFPS executive leadership, legislative staff, the Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities, parent advocates, parents, and relative caregivers. Click here to view the report concerning the Round Table discussion.

02/03/12   Texas Lawyers for Children Has Replicated Its Online Legal Resource and Communication Center for Alabama

TLC is pleased to announce that it has replicated its Online Legal Resource and Communication Center for Alabama. The Alabama Online Center is called "Child Defend" and is the showpiece of the new Juvenile and Family Justice Center at the University of North Alabama in Florence. The project is being operated in collaboration with Alabama's Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. Click here to view an article from the press conference announcing Alabama's new Online Center. TLC will also soon be replicating its Online Center for Florida. In December 2008, TLC replicated its Online Center for California in collaboration with California's Center for Children, Families and the Courts, which is part of California's Administrative Office of the Courts.

01/19/12   Johnson & Johnson to Pay $158 Million to Settle Texas Risperdal Medicaid Fraud Case

In the middle of trial, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $158 million to settle Texas' claims that the drug manufacturer had fraudulently marketed the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal by promoting it for uses not approved by the FDA, including use for children with psychiatric disorders. Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., who works with abused and neglected children, testified, as an expert for the State, that young people "are more vulnerable" to the side effects of anti-psychotic drugs, including weight gain, drowsiness, and sometimes severe withdrawal symptoms. Another expert testified that Johnson & Johnson hid three studies that showed that Risperdal causes diabetes in some patients. One study showed that Risperdal causes "medically serious weight gain" that leads patients to develop diabetes. To view an article about the settlement, click here.

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