The Children's Commission has developed a number of judicial education and training efforts including webcasts (produced by the Commission and produced in partnership with TexasBarCLE) and annual conferences.
Below is a description of current judicial webcast and conference offerings produced by the Children's Commission:
On March 8, 2022, the Children’s Commission presented a 75-minute webcast entitled “Child Welfare Case Primer: Statutory Hearings and Current Issues.” The Honorable Rob Hofmann, Judge of the 452nd District Court and Children’s Commission’s Senior Jurist in Residence, provided a summary of the nuts and bolts of a child welfare case from investigations through various final outcomes. The presentation included a review of statutory requirements, including recent legislative changes, and current issues including dual status youth and placement. Best practices and practical tips for achieving positive permanency for children and engaging families and youth in the court process were also provided.
The recorded webcast was approved for 1.25 hours of MCLE and 1.25 hours of Family Violence training credit. The video replay and accompanying PowerPoint presentation are now available below.
- PowerPoint: Child Welfare Case Primer: Statutory Hearings and Current Issues
- Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book and Bench Cards
MCLE Information for Self-Reporting
Attorneys and judges seeking MCLE and/or Family Violence credit hours may contact CCTraining@txcourts.gov after viewing the session recording.
The Judicial Trauma Institute was presented live on April 22-23, 2021, via webcast. The content was designed by Commission staff in partnership with the Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care (SCTIC) Training Workgroup and hosted by the Texas Center for the Judiciary. The goal of the conference was for judicial teams to gain information and discover practical tools and resources about how to become a trauma-informed and trauma-responsive court in CPS cases. Judicial teams were composed by judges who invited the following members from their jurisdictions: a court coordinator; a prosecutor; an attorney who takes appointments for parents and for children in CPS cases; a senior-level Caseworker or Supervisor at DFPS; and a CASA Executive Director or Program Director. Due to the virtual format, additional child welfare stakeholders and single registrant judges also attended.
Video replays and conference materials can be accessed on the Judicial Trauma Institute webpage.
This first of its kind virtual Texas Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Summit provides the judicial and legal communities, caseworkers, and other child welfare stakeholders with an in-depth training on the history of ICWA, critical legal components of ICWA, related case law updates, and the important impact of ICWA for Tribal communities.
Presented live on January 22, 2021, the Summit was hosted by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, in partnership with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission. Video replays and conference materials can be accessed on the Texas ICWA Summit webpage.
On June 5, 2020, the Children's Commission hosted a one-hour webcast, “Benefits of Utilizing Technology in Child Welfare Cases,” designed for judges who preside over the CPS docket.
Moderated by Hon. Rob Hofmann, Judge of 452nd District Court and Senior Jurist in Residence for the Children’s Commission, the panel discussion includes five judges who share their experiences with virtual child welfare hearings and related silver linings. Topics include how to manage dockets and find an interpreter; greater child and parent engagement; the advantages of virtual mediation; an increase in attorney participation and preparation; and the benefits of increased frequency of family time (also known as visitation). Viewers will also learn about how all of these technological benefits can be used to advance permanency for children in care.
Panelists are Hon. Melissa DeGerolami, Associate Judge of the Child Protection Court of South Central Texas; Hon. Delia Gonzales, Associate Judge of the Child Protection and Permanency Court in Dallas County; Hon. Thomas Stuckey, Associate Judge of the Centex Child Protection Court South; Hon. Angela Graves-Harrington, District Judge of the 246th Family Court in Harris County; and Hon. Carlos Villalon Jr., Associate Judge for the Child Protection Court of the Rio Grande Valley West.
Recorded Webcast: Judicial Webcast on Benefits of Utilizing Technology in Child Welfare Cases. Please note that MCLE is not offered for this webinar.
Each year, the Children's Commission coordinates and hosts the Child Welfare Judges Conference (CWJC) through the Commission's grant with the Texas Center for the Judiciary (TCJ). TCJ specializes in judicial education and training opportunities for active, retired, and former Texas appellate, district and county court at law judges, as well as associate judges and court personnel.
The 14th Annual Child Welfare Judges Conference was held virtually in partnership with TCJ on October 25-27, 2021. This year, there was a pre-conference event on the opening day of the conference, followed by a full program. The conference offered 15.75 hours of Continuing Judicial Education credits, 1 ethics hour, and 15.75 hours of Family Violence credits. One hundred thirty-two judges from across the state participated. The curriculum was based in part on specific judicial requests for further education in the 2020 CWJC post-event survey and was planned with the assistance of the Children’s Commission’s CWJC Curriculum Committee.
The pre-conference training, entitled “Essentials of Child Welfare Cases,” focused on legal nuts and bolts as well as the importance of being trauma-informed, viewing families through an equity lens, including youth and family voice, making individualized reasonable efforts determinations, and being data-informed The full curriculum included a Keynote on “A Parent’s Perspective,” an Office of Court Administration update entitled “How Texas Courts are holding Hearings in Light of COVID-19,” a Legislative Update covering prevention to extended foster care, and panels on the following topics: Addressing Kinship Placement Issues; Learning from Older Youth; and Recognizing Judicial Leadership and Innovation.” The portion of the judicial training known as “The Day with the Department” included the following presentations: DFPS Leadership and General Counsel Presentation; Family First and Prevention Services Act; Community Based Care Update; Identifying Key Supports at DFPS; a Statewide Data Presentation; and Regional Breakouts with DFPS Regional Directors, Regional Systems Improvement Specialists, and Single Source Continuum Contractors in community-based care areas.
Video recordings of the conference sessions are now available on TCJ’s website. Judges who were unable to attend the live conference can access the archived curriculum by registering at no charge for the Child Welfare Judges Conference on TCJ’s website, and judges who attended can review the content until October 24, 2022. Please note that users will need to sign in to TCJ's website in order to access the archived conference.
Also, please save the date for next year’s Child Welfare Judges Conference. TCJ will host the 15th annual CWJC in person on October 24-26, 2022.
In addition to the annual Child Welfare Judges Conference, the Children's Commission sponsors a half-day CPS-related CJE track at the annual Family Justice Conference hosted by the Texas Center for the Judiciary in January of each year. This year's Family Justice Conference was held on January 13-14, 2022, at the Sheraton Georgetown, with the half-day track on CPS-related judicial education scheduled on the afternoon of January 13, 2022. This year, the three presentations and speakers were:
- Trauma Informed Court (Hon. Rosie Alvarado, Judge of the 438th Civil District Court);
- CPS for the Non-CPS Judge (Hon. Rob Hoffman, Judge of the 452nd District Court, Senior Jurist in Residence, Children’s Commission); and
- Child Welfare Legislative Update (Jamie Bernstein, Executive Director, Children’s Commission).
Child Protection Courts, also known as CPCs, were created to specialize in managing child abuse and neglect dockets. Like the child support court associate judges, these associate judges are appointed by their regional presiding judges and are OCA employees. CPC judges hear child welfare cases exclusively. The goal for CPC dockets is to help children and families achieve safety, permanency, and well-being in a timely manner. The Children’s Commission provides funding for the Child Protection Court Management System (CPCMS), as well as training and other support for CPC judges and court coordinators to conduct hearings and manage cases. There are currently 30 CPCs and these courts hear child welfare cases in 147 Texas counties.
On July 28-29, 2021, and in partnership with the Office of Court Administration (OCA), the Commission hosted a virtual conference designed for the Child Protection Court judges and their court coordinators. This biennial training is tailored to address the needs of these specialty courts. Training topics included Innovative Practices in Child Protection Courts; CPCMS updates, Data Collection, and Analysis; a Community Based Care update; a Case Law update; a legislative update; breakouts on Accessing STAR Health Services, Obtaining IDs for Children and Youth, and Human Trafficking; an OCA update on the “State of State Courts” and a moderated panel of Presiding Judges. The training closed with concurrent breakout sessions for CPC judges (moderated by Children’s Commission Senior Jurist in Residence Judge Rob Hofmann) and for their court coordinators (moderated by OCA Specialty and Children's Courts Program Manager, Anissa Johnson) wherein each group discussed topics presented at the conference as well as current and emerging challenges, successes, and areas of interest.
The next Child Protection Court Convening will be held in the summer of 2023.