The Children's Commission publishes a Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book (Bench Book) which outlines the state and federal statutory requirements for judges handling child protection cases, and includes topical sections and checklists. The Bench Book also includes special issues which judges may encounter in overseeing child protection cases, as well as statutory and case law citations which are maintained by and connected to an online service called LawBox.
The Bench Book is updated annually and was recently revised to include updates to all topical chapters. New sections on best interest, burden of proof required throughout the stages of a CPS case, contempt, and the importance of youth voice in court have been added. Additionally, there is a new bench card on addressing disproportionality.
The online version of the Bench Book is available below. The Bench Book can be accessed by mobile phone users from this link as well. If accessing via mobile phone, downloading the LawBox App first to access the Bench Book is suggested for easier viewing of its content. 
If you are a Texas judge responsible for hearing CPS cases and you are interested in receiving a hard copy of the 2018 Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, please contact the Children's Commission with your request at children@txcourts.gov.
While the Bench Book was originally designed for and is primarily used by judges, many attorneys and other child welfare stakeholders also find it to be informative and helpful. Although the Commission is not able to provide hard copies to everyone, a PDF of the Bench Book is available for download, and the digital app version is interactive. 

Bench Book

The Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available in the following:

  1. Open the LawBox app.
  2. Select "The Texas Children's Commission".
  3. Enter "children" for both username and password.

Having trouble? Additional instructions are available at LawBox.


Bench Cards

In 2015, the Children's Commission introduced Bench Cards, which are abbreviated reference cards on specific hearing types and subject matter for quick reference. An extended long version of the Bench Cards complete with Family Code citations is also available. 

Reference cards and topics include the following: 

  • Adversary Hearing 
  • Status Hearing 
  • Permanency Hearing Before Final Order (Updated 2018)
  • Final Hearing 
  • Permanency Hearing After Final Order (Updated 2018)
  • Education 
  • ICWA 
  • Medical and Mental Health Care 
  • Human Trafficking 
  • Disproportionality: 
    • Bench Card to Reduce or Eliminate Disproportionality
    • NCJFCJ Courts Catalyzing Change (CCC)
  • American Bar Association Judicial Bench Cards for Engaging Youth in the Courtroom:
    • Bench Cards for Engaging Young Children (ages 0-12 Months)
    • Toddlers (1-3 years) and Preschoolers (3-5 years)
    • School-Age Children (5-11 years)
    • Adolescents (12-15 years)
    • Older Adolescents (16+ years)

To download the Bench Cards, please visit the Bench Book / Bench Cards portion of the Reports and Resources page.