Recent News


08/06/20   Texas Supreme Court Extends Pandemic Emergency Orders on Termination Trial Dismissal Dates and Jury Trials

On Aug. 6, 2020, the Supreme Court of Texas issued its twenty-second order regarding conduct of state court proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic. It allows courts to continue to extend dismissal dates in parental rights termination cases and renews previous orders allowing remote proceedings and other accommodations for court participants. It also forbids jury trials before Oct. 1, 2020, with an exception for a limited number to be convened pursuant to a study being conducted. The previous order concerning no change to visitation and adherence to relevant school schedules was also renewed, despite schools not being open. The order also allows attorney disciplinary action matters to be held remotely. To read the order, click here. You can also find the order from the Texas Lawyers for Children home page ( by going to Resources, Browse by Topic and choosing Coronavirus or Remote Hearings, then Articles & Papers.


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08/06/20 TX Supreme Court extends pandemic order
08/01/20 ABA resolutions target harms to children
07/22/20 Children's Bureau Issues Guidance on Funds
06/29/20 NAWL Virtual Conference on July 15 & 16
06/16/20 Monitors Issue Report in Class Action
04/24/20 Free Stress Management Webinar Offered
04/08/20 Find Coronavirus Legal Resources
04/07/20 Carrington Coleman Explains Fed Loans
03/31/20 Webinar on Child Welfare in Pandemic - 4/2
02/21/20 Call for Nominations - Deadline Mar. 4
02/12/20 Scholarships to Adv. Child Protection Law
01/30/20 Adv. Child Protection Law Course - 3/26-27
01/10/20 Free Webinar on Family First Act - 1/14/20
12/15/19 KS Newspaper Finds Disturbing Outcomes
12/13/19 Journalists Investigate CAPTA Compliance
08/28/19 Education Ideas for Foster Children
05/15/19 Atty Training Scholarship Deadline-5/17
05/13/19 15 hours of FREE Trauma CLE & CJE
03/13/19 Early Bird Deadline for Adv. Course - 3/14
02/07/19 Adv. Child Protection Law Course- 3/28-29
01/07/19 Federal Funding for Attorneys in CPS Cases
10/18/18 5th Circuit Rules in M.D. v. Abbott
09/27/18 Paper - Constitutional Rights of Children
08/06/18 Key Hearing-Children's Mental Health
06/20/18 Child Protection Law CLE Video Replays
05/29/18 Children's Rights Summit - Houston
05/16/18 Key Hearing-Children's Mental Health- 5/17
05/04/18 Judicial Conference Scholarships- Due 6/6
05/04/18 Attorney Conference Scholarships- Due 6/6
04/27/18 Child Welfare Law Specialization - May 7
04/09/18 Update on Federal Class Action Appeal
03/22/18 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 4/11
03/20/18 Legal Representation Survey - Judges
03/13/18 Legal Representation Survey - Attorneys
02/15/18 Oral Argument in Federal Class Action Suit
02/01/18 Justice Lehrmann's Statement—New Section
01/31/18 Judge Orders Hank Whitman to Appear
01/31/18 Child Protection Law Section CLE 4/19-20
01/19/18 Final Order Entered in Class Action
12/15/17 TLC Files Amicus Brief in Class Action
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.)
02/01/13   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.

01/09/12   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 13, 2012. Click here to view the nomination form.

12/15/11   Bench Book on Judicial Considerations for Creating Child-Friendly Courtrooms Is Now Available

Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, in collaboration with the Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families, the Children's Justice Act Project, and the Texas Center for the Judiciary, has developed a Bench Book focusing on judicial considerations for creating child-friendly courtrooms. Recognizing that the judicial process and courtroom design present difficulties for child witnesses, this Bench Book discusses ways to facilitate child testimony and decrease the psychological trauma associated with court involvement for children. The Bench Book includes relevant case law and practical recommendations for judges and attorneys. The considerations provided are valuable ways to move towards child-friendly courtrooms that recognize the specific physical, developmental, and emotional needs of children while preserving the integrity of the judicial process. Click here to view the Bench Book.

10/17/11   BBC Releases Its Investigative Report on U.S. Child Abuse Deaths — "America's Child Abuse Shame"

On October 17, 2011, the BBC released worldwide the results of its months-long investigation of child maltreatment fatalities in the U.S. The report, "America's Child Death Shame," discusses the problem of child deaths in America by focusing on Texas, which has the highest rate of child deaths from abuse in the country. The report includes comments from several Texas professionals, including Audrey Deckinga, Asst. Commissioner for CPS, Madeline McClure, Executive Director of TexProtects ( Texas Association for Protection of Children), and Matthew Cox, M.D., Medical Director of the REACH Clinic at Children's Medical Center. The Every Child Matters Education Fund, one of the organizations participating in the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, noted that despite up to 2,500 child deaths a year in America, national media in the U.S. have never reported on the issue in as comprehensive a manner as the BBC has now done. The National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths hopes that the BBC's report will prompt a federal inquiry and a national strategy for combating the problem. To watch segments of the BBC report online, click here and then click on each of the various segments of the report to view all of them. To view the recommendations of the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, see TLC's Recent News item dated December 14, 2010. To learn more about the work of the Every Child Matters Education Fund, click here.

10/01/11   Federal Legislation Requires Free Credit Reports for Foster Youth Aging Out of Care

On Sept. 30, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act. It contains a provision from the proposed Foster Youth Financial Security Act that requires states to provide free credit reports to youth age 16 or older until they are discharged from foster care. The administration is preparing regulations for implementation of the requirement. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) is the sponsor of the Foster Youth Financial Security Act, which has not passed Congress in its entirety. Click here to view a news article about the new legislation.

09/29/11   NCJFCJ Is Providing Several Scholarships for a Judicial Training Program

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) is providing several scholarships for its judicial training program, "2011 Managing Challenging Family Law Cases," which is being co-sponsored by NCJFCJ and the National Judicial College. The conference is being held from October 24-27, 2011, in Reno, Nevada. The scholarship covers the $985 tuition fee, and the participant is responsible for the $245 conference fee and all travel expenses. To learn more about the training program and the scholarships, click here.

09/28/11   CPPP Issues Legislative Summary Regarding Child Protective Services

The Center for Public Policy Priorities has issued a summary of new legislation affecting Child Protective Services. The summary notes that the 2005 and 2007 Legislatures overhauled the CPS system, including additional funding for caseworkers and services. It also notes that the 2009 Legislature continued reform efforts by increasing funding to keep more kids safe in their own homes or with relatives. CPPP concludes, however, that to a certain degree, due primarily to severe budget cuts, the 2011 Legislature lost the momentum of past reform efforts. The summary points out that although CPS fared better than most state agencies as to budget cuts, the 2011 Legislature slashed prevention and did not fund caseload growth. On the other hand, the summary explains that the 2011 Legislature did continue efforts to improve the structure of the CPS system through legislation to improve the parental child safety placement process, legal representation in CPS cases, parental involvement in service plans, and services for children in foster care. To view the summary, click here

09/19/11   Study Reveals Possible Link Between Recession & Abusive Head Trauma

Results of a study published in the journal Pediatrics showed an increase in abusive head trauma cases between 2004 and 2009. The study examined 422 diagnoses of children under 5 in 74 counties. The number of cases rose from 9 per 100,000 children before the recession to almost 15 per 100,000 during the recession. The article is entitled "Abusive Head Trauma During a Time of Increased Unemployment: A Multicenter Analysis." To view the article, click here.

08/17/11   See Texas Child Well-Being Statistics in Annual Kids Count Data Book

The Center for Public Policy Priorities has issued a press release regarding Texas's ranking in a national study of child well-being. The 2011 National Kids Count Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found that Texas ranks 35th among the states in key indicators of child health and well-being. Of all children living in poverty in the country, one in nine lives in Texas. To view the CPPP press release, click here. To view the Texas Fact Sheet, click here. To view the Data Book, click here.

08/07/11   NCJFCJ Has Issued a News Alert Regarding a Nationwide Protest Directed at Family Courts, GAL'S, and Child Protective Services Workers

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has issued a news alert saying that it has learned of a nationwide protest that is planned for this Friday, August 12, by an organization called "govabuse," which is reportedly going to direct its protest against Child Protective Services workers, family court judges, and guardians ad litem. At this time, the protest is planned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside courthouses in at least 42 states around the nation. The group's website identifies 12 Texas counties where protests are planned. To visit the group's website to see the list of Texas protest sites, click here. Current NCJFCJ President, Hon. Patricia Martin, was recently quoted in a Southern Poverty Law Center blog about the protest. Although the protest is billed as nonviolent, TLC wanted you to be aware of the possibility that this may be happening in your county. To learn more and to view the comments of Judge Martin, click here.

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