In partnership with the State Bar of Texas, the Children's Commission regularly produces and makes available live, archived, and accredited online MCLE courses to provide education and training for attorneys who take court-appointed cases or who represent the DFPS on CPS dockets around the state.

The State Bar’s TexasBar CLE offers these CPS-related webcasts and webinars at a reduced rate to court-appointed attorneys representing children and / or parents, or by TexasBar CLE scholarship to attorneys representing the State of Texas who need financial assistance to access this online training. Details of these viewer discounts and scholarships are available for qualifying attorneys upon registration with TexasBar CLE. Additionally, there are several MCLE trainings which are available free of charge.

For more information on current offerings, please visit the sections below.

ABA Teleconference Series: Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Adulthood

Beginning in September 2016, the American Bar Association Children’s Rights Litigation Section hosted a series of free teleconference programs focused on the issue of youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood. The ABA convened experts from across the country to discuss the various issues in a five-part series, “Assuring a Successful Transition.” Each session provides an in-depth discussion between experts aimed at providing an overview of youth transitioning from care, the role of lawyers and the courts, legal issues facing transitioning youth, transition planning for special populations, and permanency and connections for transitioning youth.

The Children’s Commission has been able to secure Texas MCLE credit for the five-part teleconference series, a total of 7.5 hours of free MCLE credit, which is available on-demand and can be accessed below. 

Handouts from each of the replays is available by request, however, are state specific. Please email children@txcourts.gov requesting the specific session and handouts you wish to receive. 

To claim MCLE credit, please email children@txcourts.gov at the conclusion of the replay.


Part I. Assuring a Successful Transition: An Overview of the Issue

This program begins the series with panelists providing an overview of the issue including defining transitioning youth and discussion of federal law governing the transitioning youth population. Panelists also discuss how different states have approached extended foster care, the number of youth in care after the age of 18, and general issues surrounding the legal representation of this unique population.


Part II. Assuring a Successful Transition: What is the Role of Lawyers and the Courts for Transitioning Youth?

The second program in this series focuses on the legal representation of youth, pre- and post-aging out of care, by examining the role of the attorney, and whether that role changes once the youth turns 18. The panel also discusses the role of the court and the role of the lawyer in transition planning.


Part III. Assuring a Successful Transition: What Legal Issues Do Transitioning Youth Face?

The third program in this series focuses on the legal issues facing youth as they prepare to transition from care and how lawyers can help ensure effective transition plans. The panel also discusses overlapping issues such as criminal justice, education, housing, reproductive health, and more. Finally, the issue of training and support needed for lawyers (including pro bono) representing transitioning youth is discussed.


Part IV. Assuring a Successful Transition: Transition Planning for Special Populations

The fourth program in this series focuses on transition planning for special populations including LGBTQ youth, pregnant and parenting youth, and youth with a disability.


Part V. Assuring a Successful Transition: Permanency and Connections for Transitioning Youth

The fifth and final program in this series explores youth transitioning from foster care to permanency, and resources available for transitioning youth. Panelists discuss various means of permanency for older youth including adoptions, guardianships, reunification with family, connections to caring adults, and more. Panelists discuss the impact of peer mentors as an effective strategy for ensuring that permanency is prioritized for older youth and that they are actively involved in all aspects of defining and achieving permanency.

Following the Trauma-Informed Care survey and report issued last year by Texas CASA, the Children’s Commission, in partnership with Texas CASA and the Shield Ayers Foundation, created a one-hour training to help introduce trauma-informed care to Attorneys ad Litem, Guardians ad Litem and CASA volunteers. The presentation includes strategies for advocating for children in courtrooms, schools, and placements to meet each child’s unique needs. There is also discussion about how trauma influences a child’s ability to communicate about the case and how to appropriately respond to a child's trauma-related behaviors. This training was recorded in front of a live audience at the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse on September 27, 2016, and was presented by Elizabeth Watkins, JD, Regional Attorney for the Department of Family and Protective Services. 

One-hour of MCLE credit is available for this on-demand video presentation which can be accessed below. To claim MCLE credit, please email children@txcourts.gov for more information. 

PowerPoint Presentation: Trauma-Informed Advocacy

CPS-related  CLE is available in the Online Classroom of Texas Bar CLE.  In partnership with the State Bar, the Children’s Commission periodically makes several online courses available to court-appointed attorneys and state and DFPS attorneys in the CPS Practice Area of the Texas Bar CLE Online Classroom. The Texas Bar CLE’s Online Classroom of CPS-related webinars is available at a reduced rate to court-appointed attorneys representing children and / or parents. For attorneys representing the State of Texas, TexasBar CLE provides scholarships based on financial need. Please see below for more information on how to receive a reduced rate. 

To link directly to a list of all MCLE courses offered through Texas Bar CLE that pertain to legal representation of all parties on the CPS docket and related issues in CPS cases, please click below to access the Texas Bar CLE Online Classroom and select "CPS": 

TexasBar CLE Website

The following are some of the webinars that may be currently offered by Texas Bar CLE in their online classroom of CPS-related CLEs.

  • Advocating for Youth Aging Out of the Texas Foster Care System
  • Child Abuse & Neglect Workshop from 2017 Advanced Family Law Conference (coming soon)
  • Representing a Teen Parent in a CPS Case
  • Representing Children in CPS Cases 
  • Representing Texas Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases 
  • Resources and Procedures for Representing Crossover Youth with Disabilities
  • Special Education Advocacy for Kids in the Foster Care System
  • Trial Skills in the CPS Case
  • Moving from Ordinary to Extraordinary Representation in CPS Cases 
  • Child Protection Legislative Update - 85th Legislative Session
  • Thinking Ahead: Dealing with Appeals Issues in CPS Cases
  • Effective Representation of Children and Aged Out Foster Youth: Beyond the Basics
  • Tips and Traps from Appointment Through Trial: Effective Representation of a Parent in a CPS Case;
  • Special Issues in CPS Parent Representation

Additional webinars are added to the CPS online library periodically, while others may rotate off this list as they become outdated.

Cost:

Although the courses in the CPS online library of Texas Bar CLE list registration fees, reduced fees are available for lawyers who agree to take court appointments in CPS Cases. These attorneys can apply for a reduced fee by selecting an option when registering for the webinar that gives a discount at checkout.

For attorneys representing the state or the DFPS, there are scholarships available through the Children’s Commission and through the Bar for attorneys who represent the State of Texas and need financial assistance to access this online training. This scholarship is designed for the applicant to pay whatever amount she or he can afford for a webcast. To apply, please complete and submit the form found below: 

TexasBar MCLE Scholarship Form

To register for any CLE course, one must be a registered user of the State Bar's website. Anyone can become a registered user for free by creating an account (login ID and password) without having to be a member of the State Bar of Texas. Select one of the deduction options which applies to you at the CLE checkout. 

These webinars listed in the CPS practice area of the online classroom of Texas Bar CLE may be considered in some jurisdictions to meet the statutory three-hour education requirements in Texas Family Code Sections 107.004 and 107.0131 for attorneys to qualify for court appointments on child protection dockets or to qualify to remain on a court-appointed list.

Please email children@txcourts.gov if you should have any questions. 

MCLE Online Classes on Trial Skills

The Children's Commission is proud to announce the addition of two online classes on basic and advanced trial skills in CPS cases to the State Bar of Texas' TexasBar CLE Online Classroom. Each class provides three hours of MCLE and includes ethics hours for a total of six hours, .75 hours of ethics.

Preparing Your CPS Case for Trial: Position Yourself to Win

This session will cover the following topics: case strategy and preparation, including discussion of successful themes and theories; how to build a CPS Trial Notebook; and identifying, designating, preparing and presenting your witnesses. Also discussed will be how to handle evidentiary matters, including tips and traps for the CPS practitioner on laying the foundation for various exhibits and on making and responding to common objections. Additionally, there will be a judicially-led advocate panel on preparing for Voir Dire in CPS Cases.

MCLE No.: 928009428 for 3.0 hours of MCLE, with .50 hours of ethics credit. 

Register

Basic and Advanced Trial Skills in CPS Litigation: Persuade and Prevail

This session will cover the following topics: basic information and advanced tips regarding trial advocacy in the CPS Case, including crafting your opening statement; conducting successful direct and cross examinations, impeachment, and closing argument. Additionally, presentations on how to qualify and disqualify experts and using high-level cross-examination to your advantage with opposing counsel’s exhibits will round out this MCLE with advanced practical skills for all practitioners on the CPS docket.

MCLE No.: 928009427 for 3.0 hours of MCLE, with .25 hours of ethics credit.

Register

Important Information Regarding Registration

If you would like to register for either or both of the above webcasts, please note that each program will have a different CLE number, so viewers will need to register and pay separately for each webcast.

Scholarship Opportunities and Discounts

Viewer discounts are available for qualifying attorneys upon registration. The full cost of each CLE is $180.

Please note that the following discounts are available upon registration:

  • Judges’ staff attorneys can register for free.
  • Court-appointed attorneys currently taking cases on the CPS docket can receive a $155 discount per webcast from TexasBarCLE, bringing the cost to $25.
  • Discounts are not available through TexasBarCLE to prosecutors who represent the State or DFPS. However, any prosecutor who cannot afford to pay or whose employer cannot pay the full cost of the webcast may apply for one of two scholarships:
    1. A scholarship through the Children’s Commission, where the applicant pays for the full cost of the webcast to TexasBarCLE and then is reimbursed a total of $155, bringing the cost per webcast to $25. To apply, please complete and return the application as instructed on the form below.
      Please note that this scholarship is available only for the above webinars and not for other webinars listed in the Online Classroom: 

TST Scholarship Form

    1. A scholarship through the State Bar of Texas where the applicant agrees to pay whatever amount she or he can afford for a webcast. To apply, please complete the form found below: 
      TexasBarCLE MCLE Scholarship Form

Please note that both of the above scholarships are available until a year after their broadcast date.

Both of these webcasts will be presented by members of the Children’s Commission’s Trial Skills Training Faculty and will be moderated by Justice Michael Massengale, First Court of Appeals and Chair of the Children’s Commission’s Training Committee.

The complete list of webcast presenters is as follows: Rob Galvin, Attorney, Travis County; Michele Surratt, Special Litigation Attorney for DFPS; Manuel Charles Rodriguez, Jr., Attorney, Bexar County; Jackie Sparks Martin, Regional Attorney for DFPS, Region 3; Elizabeth Watkins, Regional Attorney for DFPS, Smith County; Jack Sigman, Attorney, Travis County; Tracy Harting, Attorney, Travis County; Hon. Gary Coley, Judge of the 74th District Court, McLennan County; David Halpern, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, Texas A & M; R. Charles Griffin, Assistant County Attorney, Harris County; Doug Lowe, former District Attorney of Anderson County; Hon. Melissa DeGerolami, Judge of the Child Protection Court of South Texas; and Clint Harbour, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General.