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
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02/28/09   State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect Shares Its Summaries of Pending Legislation

The Subcommittee on Legislation of the State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (the "Committee") prepares summaries of pending legislation relating to child abuse and neglect. These summaries include comments where there are items of possible concern. TLC thanks the Committee for allowing us to share these summaries with our users. Please note that the comments do not reflect the official position of the Committee or of TLC. To view the summaries of key bills filed through February 28, 2009, click here.

02/17/09   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 contributions to the field of child welfare. The award honors an attorney who has made a substantial contribution to the field of advocacy for abused and neglected children. The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2009. Click here to view the nomination form.

02/12/09   U.S. Court of Federal Claims Decides Autism Case

On February 12, 2009, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims determined, in three cases, that thimerosal-containing vaccinations do not contribute to immune dysfunction and that the MMR vaccine does not contribute to either autism or gastrointestinal dysfunction. To read the opinions, please click here.

02/04/09   CPPP Issues Paper on Caseworker Turnover within CPS

Children need stability and consistency in their lives, especially those in the child welfare system. Thus, the Center for Public Policy Priorities has issued a paper analyzing the high turnover rate within Texas' Child Protective Services, citing contributing factors such as the hiring process, recruiting issues, supervisor effectiveness, and failure to engage workers at the outset. The paper makes recommendations about how turnover can be reduced, such as a hiring process which includes supervisors, establising pay parity among the units, and reducing caseloads to a manageable level. Click here to read the paper.

01/06/09   Texas Children Trail Nation's Youth

According to a recent report by Texans Care for Children, Texas has yet to increase its national ranking on several child welfare issues. Texas children lag behind others in the country in the areas of health, economic security, and safety. Texas ranked last among states in health insurance coverage for teens, teen pregnancy prevention, and adults who complete high school. Infant mortality rates have increased, and Texas is ranked 45 of 50 states in deaths due to child abuse and neglect. More children are repeating earlier grades. On a positive note, Texas increased its ranking for child support collection and childhood vaccinations. Click here to read the press release. Click here to read the full report.

12/22/08   DFPS Releases Report on the Eldorado Investigation and Defends Its Actions

On December 22, 2008, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services released a report on its investigation of the FLDS compound in Eldorado. Sixty-two percent of the families investigated had a confirmed finding of abuse or neglect, with 124 perpetrators. The report documents DFPS's actions in the case, the need for the investigation, the services offered, the results, and the costs of the investigation. To read the full report, please click here.

12/17/08   Human Rights Initiative Offers Assistance with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Cases

Many undocumented abused and neglected children qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which will assist them in becoming a US citizen. Melissa Weaver, the Women and Children's Program Attorney at the Human Rights Initiative (HRI), is available to help attorneys whose clients may qualify for SIJS. Melissa is a participant in Colleague Connection -- Attorneys, and attorneys can send questions to Melissa through that email network. Judges can refer parties to HRI for assistance. Click here for more information about SIJS and the Human Rights Initiative. HRI's manuals on representing immigrant children can be found in the manuals section of the TLC website and under the topic "Immigrant Children."

12/12/08   Your Online Shopping Directs Retailers' Donations to TLC!

As the holidays approach, you may be looking for convenient, secure ways to do your holiday shopping. Here is a new way to shop online at over 600 major retailers, with special discounts, while these retailers generously donate a portion of the proceeds of your purchase to TLC! Participants include Southwest Airlines, Budget, Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Target, WalMart, Sears, AT&T, CompUSA, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Kodak, Macy's, 1-800-Pet-Meds, Netflix, etc. Best of all, this service is available year-round, giving you an opportunity to support our work with children on an ongoing basis, at no cost to you. Also, please tell your friends about this opportunity. Click here to learn more. (Once you select a retailer, you are taken to that retailer's online store to complete your transaction---with all of the product selection, safety, and security you expect from these major retailers.) We greatly appreciate your support and all you are doing to serve Texas' children.

12/10/08   TLC Has Launched the Website It Created and Is Hosting for the State of California

TLC is pleased to announce that we have created and are hosting a website modeled after the TLC site for the Administrative Office of the Courts of California and its Center for Families, Children and the Courts. This is the first organization to enlist TLC's assistance in designing and hosting a similar site to benefit their child advocacy community. This marks a momentous leap in realizing our vision of a network of sites across the nation, together furthering the common goal of helping children through the sharing of information and best practices. If you are interested in creating a site for the child advocacy community in your state based on the TLC site, please contact us at 800-993-5TLC (5852) or email

11/17/08   Center for Public Policy Priorities Reports on Initial Implementation of Managed Medical Care Program for Foster Children

On November 17, 2008, the Center for Public Policy Priorities issued a report on the first six months of STAR Health, a Medicaid managed care program for foster children, implemented by the Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Family and Protective Services. The report reviews health care needs of foster children and the various managed care models. It then examines STAR Health and makes recommendations for improvements. CPPP recommends changing the name of the program to prevent confusion with a similarly-named health program, evaluating the Health Passport program, changing elements of the provider requirements for court testimony, and better use of performance measures in evaluating managed care projects. CPPP notes that remaining questions to be addressed include loss of medical benefits as foster children leave the system, adequacy of availability of behavioral health services, and better access to medical services through regular Medicaid than through STAR Health. To see the report, click here.

11/03/08   Center for Public Policy Priorities Considers Impact of New Federal Child Welfare Law on Texas

On November 3, 2008, the Center for Public Policy Priorities issued a summary and analysis of the impact on Texas of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, the new federal law which overhauls various child welfare programs. Click here to view CPPP's policy paper, entitled "New Federal Foster Care Legislation: What It Could Mean for Texas."

10/13/08   New Federal Law Strengthens Requirements That Sex Offenders Register Their Email Addresses

On October 13, 2008, President Bush signed the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008 (KIDS Act of 2008). The law requires the U.S. Attorney General to maintain, in the National Sex Offender Registry, all Internet identifiers for sex offenders. Identifiers include email addresses and other methods of Internet identification. Identifiers will not be publicly disclosed; however, social networking sites will have secure access to compare information in the registry with their users and are subject to penalties for misuse of the information. The AG must also notify sex offenders of the new requirements for providing their Internet identification.

10/08/08   New Federal Law Expands Prosecution of Child Pornography

On October 8, 2008, President Bush signed the Effective Prosecution of Child Pornography Act of 2007. This bill expands federal jurisdiction for certain crimes by including activities that use interstate commerce, such as sexual exploitation of children, selling or buying of children, and child pornography crimes. The act also declares possession of some child pornography to be a predicate crime for money laundering and expands the definition of "possess" with respect to child pornography to include accessing child pornography by computer with the intent to view.

10/08/08   Congress Increases Grants for Runaway and Homeless Youth Facilities and Enacts Requirements for Emergency Preparedness

On October 8, 2008, President Bush signed the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act of 2008, which amends provisions for federal grants to programs offering services to runaway youth. It increases minimum grant allotments and requires that youth shelters and transitional living programs have adequate emergency preparedness and management plans. The act also revises requirements for transitional living programs and increases the maximum allowable length of stay. Some youth projects receive priority funding in the bill. Statistics on runaway and homeless youth must be reported periodically to Congress.

10/07/08   New Federal Law Overhauls Child Welfare System

On October 7, 2008, President Bush signed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, which addresses educational stability for foster children, including requiring states to ensure that foster children remain in their original school unless not in the child's best interest; possible waiver of non-safety related licensing standards for relatives; foster care payments after age 18; transition for children aging out of foster care; training for agencies, relatives and court personnel; oversight of health care services; sibling placement; tribal programs; and special needs adoptions. State, local or tribal child welfare agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, may receive matching grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with the goal of assisting children in foster care to reconnect with family members.

09/22/08   TDFPS Releases Report on Program to Increase Kinship Care Placements

On September 22, 2008, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' Accountability Division of Child Protective Services issued a report evaluating its kinship care initiative. Following federal legislation requiring states to give preference to foster children's placements with relatives, Texas began pilot programs in several counties to increase the number of children in kinship care. In 2005, the Texas Legislature enacted the Family Focus Initiative of Child Protective Services, which increased financial support and services to relatives who accepted placements. This evaluation shows a substantial increase in the number of relative placements and increased positive outcomes for such children. The report notes two possible explanations for these findings: (1) that relative placements bestow positive benefits compared to foster care or (2) that the children who go into relative placements are younger and have fewer special needs. The report states that further study is needed to determine the impact of these factors and to determine the effect of increased financial assistance to the caregivers. Click here to view the report.

09/10/08   New Association for Child Protection Judges Forms

A group of Texas judges has recently formed a new association, the Texas Association of Child Protection Judges. Judges Robin Sage and Carole Clark were elected as co-presidents for this first year. This group is designed to offer judges who hear CPS cases support, information, and a connection with other judges. Membership is open to any judge or associate judge who handles child abuse and neglect cases. The members of this association will be using several of TLC's new secure, private communication tools to discuss key topics in handling CPS cases.Click here to view Judge Sage's invitation to join this important new association.

08/22/08   TDFPS Issues Advisory to All CPS Personnel on Removal, Transporation, and Home Entry in Response to Gates Decision

On August 22, 2008, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Carey Cockerell and Assistant Commissioner for Child Protective Services Joyce James, through General Counsel Gerry Williams, issued an "Urgent Legal Advisory for Investigations" to all CPS personnel. The Advisory is in response to the decision handed down July 28 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Gates v. TDPRS, et al. To read the Fifth Circuit's decision, click here. The Advisory sets out new practices for emergency removals of children, transportation of children from school, and for entering and remaining in a home. The new practices reflect changes made in response to the Fifth Circuit's definition of "exigent circumstances," which TDFPS considers as having a higher threshold than that currently utilized by CPS. The advisory lists factors to weigh when removal, transportation, or home entry are considered; questions investigators should ask themselves before taking action; and case examples to illustrate the new practices. The Advisory directs all personnel to put the new standards and practices into effect immediately until the agency issues revised policies and procedures. Click here to read the Advisory.

08/18/08   Hon. Scott McCown (Ret.) Will Discuss the Fifth Circuit's Recent Opinion on the Fourth Amendment's Application to CPS Investigations at the Upcoming CPS Judicial Conference

Hon. Scott McCown (Ret.) will discuss the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' recent opinion in Gates v. TDPRS, No. 06-20763, concerning the Fourth Amendment's application to CPS investigations, and the opinion's possible ramifications at the upcoming CPS Judicial Conference. The conference is open to judges only and will be conducted August 25-27, 2008, at the Sheraton Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas. It is sponsored by the Texas Center for the Judiciary and funded by a grant from the Texas Supreme Court's Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. For registration information, call the Texas Center for the Judiciary at 512-482-8986.

08/11/08   State Bar Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect Names Charles Childress as Winner of Its Annual Fairy Davenport Rutland Award for Distinguished Service to Children and Families

The State Bar Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect honored Charles Childress as the recipient of its annual Fairy Davenport Rutland Award for Distinguished Service to Children and Families. The award is named after Ms. Rutland in recognition of her exceptional leadership as a founding member and chair of the Committee for over 20 years and her continuing dedication and many contributions to the field of child welfare. The award was presented to Professor Childress at the Advanced Family Law Course. Professor Childress has made significant and numerous contributions to the field of child advocacy, having served as Co-Director of the Children's Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, Senior Attorney at the Department of Family and Protective Services, and Chief Staff Attorney for the Fourth Court of Appeals, to name a few. He was instrumental in the passage of landmark legislation that limits children's time in foster care and was named outstanding legislative liaison for the 2001 legislative session by the DFPS Office of General Counsel. Click here to view the letter nominating Professor Childress for this prestigious award.

08/01/08   Texas Access to Justice Foundation Is Administering Reimbursements to Pro Bono Children's Attorneys in FLDS Case

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) is administering donated funds, mostly from the Texas Bar Foundation, to distribute a nominal amount of reimbursement to attorneys providing pro bono representation of children in the FLDS case. This small pool of funds will be used to help defer some of the travel and litigation expenses that will not otherwise be reimbursed by the county, a law firm, or a client, and is available to attorneys whose representation has resulted in a financial hardship. The amount of reimbursement will depend on the number of requests submitted. The deadline for submitting requests is August 29, 2008. Click here to download the request form.

07/28/08   Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Delineates How Fourth Amendment Applies to Department's Entry into Home and Removal of Children from Home and from School

On July 28, 2008, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision affirming a district court's granting of summary judgment to governmental defendants in Gates v. TDPRS, No. 06-20763. In a lengthy opinion, the Court examined the constitutionality of the Department's entry into and removal of children from a home and from school without a court order. Concluding that the law concerning how the Fourth Amendment standards would be applied in a CPS investigation was not clearly established at the time of the entry and removal, the Court then delineated the parameters and stated in its final summary that the law is now clearly established. The Court examined at length the issues of consent, exigent circumstances, and the "special needs" doctrine, and concluded that since the law concerning the "special needs" doctrine was not clearly established at the time, the government actors could have reasonably believed that it did apply and were, therefore, entitled to qualified immunity. Other issues addressed included due process rights, supervisory liability, governmental liability under 1983 and Texas Constitution issues. Click here to read the opinion.

06/25/08   U.S. Supreme Court Rules Death Penalty for Child Rape Is Not Proportional Punishment

On June 25, 2008, the U. S. Supreme Court issued an opinion holding that convicted child rapists cannot be sentenced to death. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Court said that "the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child." The case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, invalidated a Louisiana law. Texas has a similar law, but it applies only to repeat offenders and when victims are younger than 14. Texas legislators fortuitously included a provision that persons convicted under the law would receive a sentence of life without parole in the event the Court rejected the death penalty. In its ruling, the Court left open the issue of use of the death penalty for crimes against the state (as opposed to crimes against individuals), such as "treason, espionage, terrorism, and drug kingpin activity."

06/25/08   US Supreme Court Holds Deceased Domestic Violence Victim's Statement Inadmissible

On June 25, 2008, the United States Supreme Court reversed the California Supreme Court's ruling in Giles v. California, 2008 U.S. LEXIS 5264 (2008), and held that a criminal defendant did not forfeit his Sixth Amendment right to confront a witness because he murdered the victim-witness. Giles was convicted of first degree murder of his girlfriend, and evidence against him included the girlfriend's statement to police three weeks earlier that he had choked her and had threatened to slash her with a knife. Giles pled self defense. The Court rejected the state's argument that a defendant forfeits his right to object to admission of evidence on confrontation grounds when he commits a wrongful act that renders a witness unavailable. The state had to show, but did not, that Giles intended to prevent the victim from testifying when he murdered her.

06/02/08   Judge Walther Orders Return of Children but Puts Safeguards in Place

On June 2, 2008, Hon. Barbara Walther, Judge of the 51st District Court of Schleicher County, signed an order pursuant to order of the Texas Supreme Court and the Third Court of Appeals. Judge Walther's order vacated her prior designation of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as temporary sole managing conservator of the children removed from the YFZ Ranch, home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Judge Walther's order also required that the children be returned to parents, managing conservators, or legal guardians (collectively "caretakers"). Each person receiving possession of a child is to provide a fingerprint and have a photo taken. Caretakers must take parenting classes and are ordered not to remove the children from Texas. The Department's investigation is to continue, with the Department's having access to the residence of each child for unannounced home visits. To read the entire order, click here.

05/29/08   Texas Supreme Court Says Removal of FLDS Children Was Unwarranted

On May 29, 2008, the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of mandamus in Cause No. 08-0391, styled In Re Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The department had requested relief from a Third Court of Appeals order granting a conditional writ of mandamus pursuant to a petition filed by thirty-eight mothers of children the department had removed from the Yearning for Zion ranch. The Supreme Court refused to disturb the opinion of the Court of Appeals and concluded that the removal was not warranted. The opinion applies to approximately 120 of the 468 children removed from the ranch, but, in practical terms, may apply to many of them. To read the opinion, click here. Justices O'Neill, Johnson, and Willett concurred in part and dissented in part. To read the dissenting opinion, click here.

05/22/08   Austin Court of Appeals Orders District Court to Vacate Order in FLDS Case

A three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeals has ordered the district court in the FLDS case "to vacate its temporary orders granting sole managing conservatorship of the children of the [38 women who sought a writ of mandamus] to the Department." Click here to view the Memorandum Opinion.

05/19/08   US Supreme Court Says Law Criminalizing Offers to Transfer Child Pornography Is Constitutional, Even When Transfer Involves Children or Photos That Do Not Exist

On May 19, 2008, in U.S. v. Williams, 2008 U.S. Lexis 4314 (2008), the United States Supreme Court ruled that a federal law outlawing pandering of child pornography is constitutional. The case involved a defendant's offer and solicitation of child pornography, including the offer of pictures of a child that did not exist. The Court held that such offers and requests are excluded from First Amendment protection and that the statute's requirement that the defendant act "in a manner that reflects the belief" that the subject of the transfer would be child pornography is not overly broad.

05/16/08   Pro Bono Mentors Are Available to Help the Eldorado Children's Attorneys

Numerous experienced ad litem attorneys, as well as trial attorneys and attorneys from the Appellate Section of the Texas State Bar are now available to help the children's attorneys in the Eldorado FLDS case. To find a pro bono mentor, Eldorado children's attorneys can click on "Resources" on the blue menu bar above to visit the special Eldorado FLDS Compound Case Resources section, or click on "Pro Bono" and then on "Find a Pro Bono Attorney." Experienced ad litems for children, trial attorneys, and appellate attorneys are invited to continue to volunteer to assist the attorneys who are generously donating their time to represent these children---many of whom have limited experience or even no prior experience in serving as an ad litem for a child in a CPS case. It would be very helpful to these volunteers to have access to mentors who are experienced ad litems and trial and appellate attorneys as they work through the complex issues they will face. To volunteer to be a mentor, go to "Pro Bono" on the blue menu bar above and complete the form. Under "Areas of Assistance" check the box for "Eldorado Children" and all other areas that apply, and under "Types of Assistance" you can check "Mentor Another Attorney."

05/01/08   Liberty Legal Institute Filed an Amicus Brief in the FLDS Case

The Liberty Legal Institute ("LLI"), a legal advocacy group for religious freedom and parental rights, filed an amicus brief concerning the FLDS case in the Third District Court of Appeals. LLI argued that although parental rights are afforded the protection of strict scrutiny, they can be overcome by evidence of a finding of sexual exploitation or a threat to health and safety. LLI further argued that substantive analysis of the church autonomy doctrine is unnecessary upon a finding of sexual exploitation or a threat to health or safety. To view the brief, click here.

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