Recent News


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.


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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.)
09/05/17   TLC Has Added Resources to Assist with Helping Displaced Foster Children

In order to assist you as you work to help foster children who have been displaced due to Hurricane Harvey, TLC has added some new resources to the Online Center dealing with helping children cope with the trauma of a hurricane and also dealing with the legal rights of displaced children regarding education. As you may know, the Online Center already includes over 85 other articles on various topics related to the impact of trauma on children. These can be located in the section on Resources under the topic of "Trauma" and its numerous subtopics. For ideas on helping children after a hurricane that you can use yourself and give to foster parents or other caregivers, click here. For tips on helping children cope with a traumatic event, click here. For information on helping children deal with loss and frightening news, click here. For information written for youth on the legal rights of displaced children concerning education, click here. For the "Disaster Edition of the Homeless Education Advocacy Manual," click here.

09/01/17   TLC's Pro Bono Network Now Includes Options to Receive or Provide Hurricane Help

At TLC, our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. TLC's Online Center can be used to connect those of you who would like to help the Houston area judges, attorneys, and the children in their cases with your colleagues needing help. The Pro Bono network now includes options for you to provide Hurricane Help by volunteering to visit a foster child who has been relocated to another area (you may need to be appointed as co-counsel to the child's ad litem), assisting with a case, providing housing or office space, or providing electronic equipment or clothing. To volunteer to provide Hurricane Help click on "Pro Bono" on the red menu bar at the top and select "Volunteer for Pro Bono Network". Complete the volunteer form and select the applicable "Hurricane Help" areas of assistance. You can also select other general areas to provide pro bono help. Under "Levels of Involvement" be sure to select "Hurricane Help". If you choose to assist in other areas in addition to Hurricane Help, you can also select other "Levels of Involvement". Please note - your name and information will not be visible to the public, only to other judges and attorneys who are registered for TLC's Online Center. To receive Hurricane Help click here. Scroll down to the list of areas of assistance, and click on the type of "Hurricane Help" you are seeking to see a list of available volunteers. Thank you to all of you who generously decide to help your colleagues and the children in their cases. For those trying to find help for the children in your cases and to recover from the havoc wreaked in your lives, we hope TLC's Online Center serves as a way to spread the TLC of your colleagues throughout the Houston area.

08/28/17   Texas Supreme Court Issues Emergency Order Affecting Child Protection Cases

On August 28, 2017, the Texas Supreme Court issued an Emergency Order Affecting Child Protection Cases. The Order suspends the deadlines of Section 263.401 of the Texas Family Code "if the court finds that disasterous conditions from Hurricane Harvey precluded compliance." To view the Order, click here.

08/24/17   Supreme Court Children's Commission Providing Two Webcasts on Trial Skills on August 29th

THIS EVENT IS POSTPONED. On August 29, 2017, in partnership with the Texas State Bar, the Supreme Court Children's Commission is presenting two live webcasts on basic and advanced trial skills in CPS cases, for a total of 6 hours of MCLE credit, including .75 hours of ethics. The morning course is called "Preparing Your CPS Case for Trial: Position Yourself to Win," and the afternoon course is "Basic and Advanced Trial Skills in CPS Litigation: Persuade and Prevail". Discounts and partial scholarships are available. To learn about the discounts and scholarships and to register for the webcasts, click here.

08/01/17   Help Start a Child Protection Law Section of State Bar

A Development Committee, chaired by Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann, is working toward starting a Child Protection Law Section of the State Bar. The State Bar has a Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, but there is no section serving this important area of the law. Those working toward this goal believe that forming a State Bar section is an important step in advancing this area of practice. We are extremely grateful to Justice Lehrmann for taking time to lead this important effort. To begin the process, we must receive a minimum of 200 signatures on a petition to be submitted to the Bar. Signing the petition indicates that you are in favor of starting this section and that you are willing to join the section and pay the dues of $20. If you would like to help start this section, please sign the petition and fax it to 915-771-0271. Many thanks to El Paso attorney Mark Briggs for being willing to receive the faxed petitions. If you have any trouble with the faxing process, Mark's office phone is 915-779-0039. To access the petition, click here.

07/21/17   See Legislative Update by Supreme Court Children's Commission & Webcast on CPS Legislative Changes on July 24

The Texas Supreme Court Children's Commission has done a very thorough legislative update of statutory changes affecting child protection cases. We appreciate the Commission's generosity in sharing this update so we can make it available to judges and attorneys using TLC's Online Center. To view the Legislative Update from the 85th legislative session, click here. Also, the Children's Commission is conducting a Webcast with CLE credit from 1:30-3:00 pm on Monday, July 24, 2017, regarding key legislative changes. Scholarships and discounts are available for this Webcast. To learn about the discounts and scholarships and to register for the Webcast, click here.

06/01/17   Supreme Court Children's Commission Is Providing Scholarships for Attorneys for the Child Abuse Track at the Advanced Family Law Conference - Deadline June 5

The Texas Supreme Court Children's Commission is offering registration scholarships to attorneys for the Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Track at the annual State Bar of Texas' Advanced Family Law Conference. This track covers current topics of interest to Texas attorneys who practice on the CPS docket. The Advanced Family Law CLE 1-Day CAN track will be held live in San Antonio, Texas, on August 9, 2017, with upcoming video replays in Houston on September 22, 2017; Dallas on September 29; and South Padre on October 13. The deadline to apply is 5:00 pm Monday, June 5, 2017. To access the application, click here.

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.

04/14/17   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 May 1, 2017. The award recipient will be announced at the Advanced Family Law Conference in August. To view the nomination form, click here.

04/06/17   House Human Services Committee Is Conducting a Hearing Regarding Continuation of the AAL Appointment on April 10

The House Human Services Committee is conducting a hearing in Room E2.030 at 8:00 am on Monday, April 10, 2017, on HB 3109. This bill continues the appointment of an attorney ad litem for a child for as long as the child is in the managing conservatorship of the Department. TLC believes that it is critical that these foster children have representation in order not to fall through the cracks. This bill implements the finding in Judge Jack's Jan. 9, 2017 Interim Order (posted in the Recent News section on Jan. 9) that children in the PMC of the State have a constitutional right to an attorney. To view the hearing notice, click here. To view the committee substitute for HB 3109, click here.

03/23/17   House Human Services Committee Is Conducting a Hearing on 2 CPS Reform Bills on March 27

The Texas House Human Services Committee is conducting a key hearing on 2 CPS Reform bills starting at 8:30 am on Monday, March 27, 2017. HB 1542 addresses the definition of "least restrictive environment", and HB 2335 addresses trauma training for caseworkers and certain caregivers. HB 1542 defines "least restrictive environment" as, among other things, the one "closest in proximity to the child's home." It also says that for Basic and Moderate level children, the least restrictive environment is either a foster home or cottage home and puts cottage homes on par with foster homes. As written, the bill could be read to require that a child be placed in a cottage home rather than with a relative or rather than in a foster home because the cottage home is closer to the child's original home. HB 2335 requires that caseworkers and certain caregivers receive training in trauma-based care. TLC believes that no matter what we fix in the CPS system, if we don't require those who have direct contact with or make decisions on behalf of abused or neglected children to have training regarding the impact of trauma on children, then we will continue to send these vulnerable children into the downward spiral we see so often, which is caused by: erroneously labeling and treating a child's trauma-driven behavior as "willful disobedience" rather than a condition needing healing, which can make the child's behavior worse; misdiagnosing trauma symptoms as mental disorders and resorting to multiple psychotropic drugs, which can make the child's behavior worse or reduce the child to a zombie and also cause harmful side effects; as the child's behavior worsens because trauma-focused treatment is not being provided, the child is repeatedly kicked from foster home to foster home, further traumatizing the child and leading to a downward spiral of more psychotropic drugs, relationship loss, and placement instability, all making the child's behavior and condition worse, including delinquent conduct and crossover into the juvenile justice system, where the child is treated as a criminal rather than a child needing healing; and the child's behavior and condition continue to get worse, harming the child's chance for healthy relationships and a productive life. To view the hearing notice, click here. To view HB 1542, click here, and for HB 2335, click here.

03/17/17   House Human Services Committee Is Conducting a Hearing on 3 CPS Reform Bills on March 20, 2017

The Texas House Human Services Committee is conducting a hearing on 3 CPS reform bills on March 20, 2017, at 8:30 am. The hearing concerns the bills listed below. If you want to express your views on these issues, email or call the 9 members of the committee. HB 7 makes several changes concerning child protection suits filed by DFPS. HB 39 makes several changes concerning the functions of DFPS. HB 1549 is an omnibus bill of numerous reforms. To view the hearing notice, click here. To view HB 7, click here, and for HB 39, click here, and for HB 1549, click here. To view an analysis of HB 1549 graciously provided by TexProtects, click here. To watch the video of the hearing, click here.

03/08/17   Contact the Texas House Human Services Committee to Have Input on CPS Reform

The House Human Services Committee is currently considering HB 6, which is the primary CPS reform bill in the House. The bill is currently undergoing amendments and could be voted out of the Committee any day without another public hearing. If you would like to provide input on this bill, call and/or email the members of the Committee. For a list of Committee members and contact information, please click here.

03/07/17   HB 6 May Transfer All Case Management Services to Private Contractor As Did SB 11

The Texas House Human Services Committee is considering HB 6, the primary CPS reform bill in the House. The bill's author, Rep. Frank, is currently making changes to the bill. At the Feb. 20 hearing, Rep. Frank stated that he intends to add the privatization scheme that would transfer all case management services to a private contractor, as has been done in SB 11. To see Part 1 of the hearing on HB 6, click here. For Part 2, click here. For the text of HB 6, click here. To view the Dallas Morning News editorial warning against privatization, click here. To view the op-ed by Hon. Scott McCown, click here. To view an article from the Texas Observer quoting Hon. Scott McCown and TLC's Director, click here. For TLC's written testimony against privatization, click here.

03/01/17   Texas Senate Passes SB 11 to Reform CPS and Privatize Case Management Services

The Texas Senate passed SB 11 to reform Child Protective Services. The bill transfers all case management services to a private contractor in areas where Foster Care Redesign (being renamed "Community Based Foster Care") is being implemented. This arrangement will eliminate all CPS conservatorship caseworkers in those areas (with an aggressive roll-out of Foster Care Redesign across the state). All decision-making and court involvement will be done by the private contractor rather than CPS. CPS will no longer have direct contact with the child or family. All services for the child and family will be decided and monitored by the private contractor. CPS will no longer have direct knowledge of the child's condition or circumstances. Oversight of the contractor will be through performance based measures in the contract, based on information provided to CPS by the contractor rather than by direct involvement or knowledge of CPS. The private contractor will be the one appearing at court hearings and making final recommendations to the court. Many have voiced concerns about this approach to CPS reform. To see a video of the Senate hearing on SB 11, click here. For the text of SB 11, click here. To view a Dallas Morning News article about the bill, click here.

03/01/17   Texas House Passes HB 4 and HB 5 to Reform CPS

The Texas House of Representatives passed two bills to reform CPS, HB 4 and HB 5. HB 4 increases payments to kinship caregivers. HB 5 makes DFPS a stand alone agency which reports directly to the Governor rather than to the Health and Human Services Commission. For the text of HB 4, click here. To view a Dallas Morning News article about the new funding for kinship placements, click here. For the text of HB 5, click here.

02/14/17   Texas Supreme Court Approves Board Certification in Child Welfare Law

On February 14, 2017, the Texas Supreme Court approved a board specialization in the area of Child Welfare Law through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS). TLC and the State Bar Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect were early proponents of having a board certification in this area of law, and we are extremely grateful to the Supreme Court Children's Commission for filing the petition to create this specialization and carrying the torch throughout the process to see this come to fruition!! For those interested in becoming board certified in Child Welfare Law, TBLS will begin taking applications for the certification exam in February 2018, and the first Child Welfare Law Certification exam will be administered in October 2018. To review the steps involved in becoming board certified, click here. To view the standards for board certification in Child Welfare Law, click here.

02/03/17   Join Child Advocates for the Child Protection Day Rally at the Capitol on Tues., Feb. 7

Child protection advocates from across the State are gathering in Austin at 1:45 Tues., Feb. 7, for a 2:00 pm Child Protection Day Rally on the south steps of the Capitol. If you plan to attend, please wear blue as a sign of your support for child protection. For more details on the rally and other activities throughout the day, including a reception, please click here.

02/03/17   Children's Commission Is Providing Free Trial Skills Training for Attorneys in CPS Cases - Application Deadline, Midnight, Sunday, February 5

The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is offering a free, hands-on Trial Skills Training for less experienced attorneys handling Child Protective Services cases in Texas who want to improve their litigation skills. A fictional CPS case and live witnesses are partnered with top-notch instructors to coach attendees through all stages of trial. For purposes of the training, "less experienced" means that prior to applying, applicants who take court appointments will have completed an average of 2 to 3 final termination trials as first chair, and applicants who represent DFPS will have completed 3 to 7 final termination trials as first chair. The course is being conducted in San Marcos on May 8-10, 2017. Space is limited to 21 attorneys who represent children, parents, or DFPS on the CPS docket. Registration is free. The Children's Commission will contact each applicant's appointing judge to confirm suitability for the training. Attorneys will be notified about acceptance into the training by Feb 28, 2017. The deadline to apply is midnight, Sunday, February 5, 2017. For more information and to submit an application, click here.

01/31/17   Key Hearing on Senate Bill 11 Is Scheduled for Thursday, February 2

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee is conducting a key hearing on Senate Bill 11 in Room E1.028 on Thursday, Feb. 2. The bill includes some significant changes to how DFPS will operate, including directing that in all areas where Foster Care Redesign has been implemented, all case management services will be performed by the private single source contractor rather than by DFPS. This means that CPS will no longer have direct contact with the child or family. All services for the child and family will be decided and monitored by the private contractor. CPS will no longer have direct knowledge of the child's condition or circumstances. Oversight of the contractor will be through performance based measures in the contract, presumably based on information provided to CPS by the contractor rather than by direct involvement or knowledge of CPS. This is a sweeping change in who will have information about the child and family and how that information will be provided to CPS. To view the hearing notice, click here. To view Senate Bill 11, click here. To view the bill analysis, click here.

01/30/17   House Workgroup on CPS Holds Press Conference

On Monday, January 30, the House Workgroup on CPS held a press conference to discuss its plans for reforms. The plans include transferring case management services from CPS. To view a video of the press conference, click here.

01/09/17   Hon. Janis Graham Jack Enters Interim Order in Federal Class Action Regarding Texas Foster Children

On January 9, 2017, despite the State's objections, Hon. Janis Graham Jack entered an interim order covering numerous issues in the federal class action suit concerning Texas foster children. Judge Jack explained that she was not yet able to enter a final order, saying that "all required information is not yet available nor have measures to correct previous constitutional deficiencies found by the Court been implemented....Further studies and consultations between the Special Masters, the Court, and the State are necessary before a final order can be entered." To view the Court's Order, click here. To view the State's objections to the Special Masters' recommendations, click here.

12/10/16   Changes in Federal Law on Education Effective December 10 Affect Foster Children

On December 10, 2016, several changes in federal law that affect foster children go into effect as a result of provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that was signed into law on December 10, 2015. First, the McKinney-Vento Act will remove "children waiting for foster care placement" from the definition of homelessness. Educational stability for children in foster care will now be covered under Title I of ESSA. Notably, ESSA will strengthen the requirements of state and local education agencies to collaborate with child welfare agencies to promote school stability for youth in foster care. Local education agencies and child welfare agencies must work together to ensure that children are able to remain at their "school of origin", as long as it is deemed to be in the child's best interest, and the agencies must collaborate to ensure transportation to the child's school of origin is available. To view ESSA in its entirety, please click here (for issues related to educational stability for children in foster care, see 1112(c)(5), pp. 58-59). To read the ABA Letter, dated May 25, 2016, that addresses needs for clarification and further guidance, click here. To read "Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care", dated June 22, 2016, issued jointly by the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services, click here . To view a Dear Colleague Letter, issued jointly by the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services, dated June 23, 2016, click here. To view guidance by the School Superintendents Association, in partnership with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, about LEA responsibility under ESSA, dated August 2016, click here . To view TEA's Administrative Letter, dated November 18, 2016, click here.

11/04/16   Special Masters in Federal Class Action Have Filed Their Recommendations

On Nov. 4, 2016, the Special Masters in the federal class action suit concerning Texas foster children submitted their recommendations to Hon. Janis Graham Jack. To view the recommendations, click here.

10/27/16   DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman Submits Emergency Plan to Senate Finance Committee

The Texas Senate Finance Committee conducted a hearing on Oct. 26 regarding Child Protective Services. The Committee was quite alarmed and distressed at the fact that over 2,000 Texas children who have been reported as abused or neglected have not yet been seen by CPS investigators, including hundreds at the Priority 1 level. Committee Chair, Sen. Jane Nelson, demanded that DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman produce a plan to address this emergency, as well as the emergencies with caseworker turnover and other issues, by Thursday, and he did so. The plan includes using Dept. of Public Safety troopers to assist with CPS investigations, adding additional staff, raising salaries, and ideas for increasing the number of appropiate placements. To view Commissioner Whitman's emergency plan, click here. To view various news articles with differing perspectives on the hearing, click here for the Texas Standard, here for the Texas Tribune, here for the Dallas Morning News, and here for KVUE Houston.

10/12/16   Senate Finance Committee to Conduct Hearing on Oct. 26 on CPS' Plan to Improve Child Safety

The Senate Finance Committee will conduct a hearing at 1:00 pm on Oct. 26 concerning CPS' plan to ensure timely contact with children at immediate risk of abuse or neglect and other proposals to improve child safety. The hearing will be held in Room E1.036. To view the hearing notice, click here.

09/27/16   Applications Are Due Friday, September 30, To Be an NCJFCJ Implementation Site

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is inviting child abuse and neglect courts to apply to become one of four new Implementation Sites within the NCJFCJ's Implementation Sites Project, which is a 3-project to provide child abuse and neglect courts with technical assistance and support. There is no direct funding provided to the Implementation Sites, but they will receive targeted training, technical assistance, and support, including on-site visits, a trauma assessment, and All-Sites meetings. Implementation sites are expected to implement meaningful change, evaluate progress, and share challenges and successes with other courts across the country. For futher details and to access the application, click here.

09/22/16   The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 Is Pending Before Congress

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 is currently pending before Congress. This Act would make sweeping changes to the child welfare system, including allowing states to use federal funds for evidence-based prevention services to keep children out of foster care. "Prevention services" would include mental health services, substance abuse services, and in-home parent training and home visiting services. The Act would also reduce "inappropriate" group home ending federal reimbursement if states "inappropriately" use non-family placements. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is supporting this bill, as is the Children's Defense Fund. To view a summary of the bill by the Chair of the U.S House Ways and Means Committee, click here. To view the NCJFCJ's position statement, click here. To view a position statement by the Children's Defense Fund, click here. To view a position statement be several organizations on the requirement of clinical and nursing staff at residential treatment centers, click here. To view the full text of the bill, click here. To view a letter the Children's Defense Fund has asked organizations to sign to support the bill, click here.

09/12/16   Child Advocacy Organizations Brief Congress on Children's Right to Counsel

On September 12, 2016, the American Bar Association, Children's Advocacy Institute, First Focus, and the National Association of Counsel for Children are briefing Congress on children's right to counsel from 12:30-2:00 pm Central time. Panelists will speak about issues including, among others, child protection cases, immigration courts, and juvenile justice cases. The briefing is sponsored by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA). To watch the briefing, click here. To see a list of panelists and topics, click here.

07/08/16   Texas House Human Services Committee Will Conduct a Hearing on Several Issues Concerning Foster Children on July 12, 2016

The Texas House Human Services Committee will conduct a hearing beginning at 9:00 am on July 12, 2016, in Room E2.030 to hear invited and public testimony on the interim charge to: "Examine the Department of Family and Protective Services' policies and procedures, including prevention measures and resources, dedicated to eliminating child abuse and fatalities within the foster care system; explore ideas and strategies to increase the number of foster families and improve the delivery of services to children with high needs; review adoption policies, including disruptions, and make recommendations for possible improvements. Also, monitor and assess the continuation of foster care redesign." To view the hearing notice, click here. To watch the live broadcast of the House Committee hearing, click here.

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