Materials published on the Children’s Commission website are helpful reports and resources for judges and attorneys handling child protective services cases and are intended for reference use only. This information not legal advice and does not represent the official opinion of the Supreme Court Children’s Commission. The inclusion of external links is not an endorsement by the Children’s Commission of the content associated with the resource. The Children’s Commission reserves the right to decline requests for the addition of external resources.

Bench Cards 

Bench Cards are abbreviated reference cards on specific hearing types and subject matter for quick reference. Extended versions with Family Code citations are also available.

Bench Card Checklists without Citations:

Bench Card Checklists with Citations:

Bench Book Special Topic Chapters:

For more information about our work in Dual Status, please visit the Dual Status Task Force page.

For more information about our work in Foster Care & Education, please visit the Systems Improvement page, section Foster Care & Education.

Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book Chapter: Education

Resource Letter for Judges and Attorneys Handling Child Protective Services Cases:

The Texas Blueprint:

Texas Foster Care & Education Collaborative Reports:

Additional Foster Care & Education Resources

Contacts:
Links:

Homelessness creates serious adverse conditions for children and youth, including medical and mental health, lack of school stability, physical safety, food insecurity, risk of exploitation and trafficking, and substance abuse. 

Texas Appleseed, in partnership with Weatherford International and Baker & McKenzie LLP, created the Homeless Youth Handbook. This handbook provides homeless youth with Texas-specific information about their rights, responsibilities, and available resources related to every major aspect of their lives, including education, employment, health, housing, parenting, and other major topics.

The Children’s Commission conducted an observation and data collection study, called the Hearing Quality Observation Project, involving 164 child welfare hearings held across Texas. The primary purpose of the project was to establish a baseline about the quality of court hearings occurring in child welfare cases in Texas, including hearing factors such as timeliness and length, depth of issues discussed, party and judicial compliance with the Texas Family Code, parental due process, party engagement, children’s appearance in court, attorney preparedness, and attorney and parent satisfaction with legal representation.

The 2015 National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Judicial Workload Study includes findings from the study, a glossary that defines each hearing and case event, as well as a category type for each hearing type and case event. 

For more information about current projects, please visit the Legal Practice & Process, section Parent Resources Workgroup.

The Parent Resource Workgroup supports efforts to assist parents in understanding the Texas Child Welfare system, their role and responsibilities when involved in a Child Protective Services case, and the roles and responsibilities of others. As a result, the Parent Resource Guide and Family Helpline was created.


The Parent Resource Guide

The Parent Resource Guide is a handbook designed to help parents understand the Texas child welfare system, their role and responsibilities when involved in a Child Protective Services case, and the roles and responsibilities of others.

The Parent Resource Guide is accessible in print and online in English and Spanish. Additionally, the guide is available for mobile users via the LawBox app.

For print (PDF):
Online (Desktop):

A searchable and mobile-friendly version is also available on LawBox and can be accessed below:


The Family Helpline

On January 31, 2017, the Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) launched The Family Helpline to assist parents with CPS legal issues. The Family Helpline is staffed by experienced attorneys who refer to pertinent portions of the Children’s Commission’s Parent Resource Guide while offering callers live support in a one-on-one exchange. TLSC employs attorneys with CPS case experience who can offer callers legal information and education, but not offer legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship with the caller.

The CPS process is explained to callers in concrete, easy to understand, and compassionate language. Parents will be given referrals to local resources that benefit children, families, and the community at large.

The Family Helpline is available Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can be reached at (844) 888-6565.

For more information on the Family Helpline, visit TexasLawHelp.org

Beyond the Bench: Law, Justice, and Communities

Texas' two highest courts, the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, spearheaded the Beyond the Bench: Law, Justice, and Communities Summit on December 14, 2016, in Dallas, Texas. The Summit brought together Texas judges, law-enforcement officers, and national, state, and community leaders with the objective of strengthening trust and confidence in our justice system.

The Beyond the Bench Toolkit was created to offer assistance in planning similar convenings and to inspire continued conversation about this important issue. 


Child Welfare Judges Conference: 

2019

2018

2017

2016


2018 Foster Care & Education Summit

In July 2018, Texas hosted its’ second Foster Care and Education Summit. The 2018 Summit provided an opportunity to look at past accomplishments, assess current challenges, and build momentum going forward. Teams attended from every region in Texas and included advocates, attorneys, child welfare and education professionals, foster care alumni, and judges. Key themes included using data to drive decisions, engaging youth in decisions that impact their lives, approaching students with a trauma-informed lens, and creating a college-going culture for children and youth in foster care.

Materials:

Round Table discussions are designed to address key, urgent issues affecting the Texas child welfare system through a half-day program that is facilitated by a subject-matter legal expert. The topics vary year to year and the number of Round Tables hosted each year also varies according to the interest of stakeholders and issues demanding attention. The Children’s Commission’s role usually consists of forming a small workgroup to discuss the overall purpose, creating an invitation and distribution list, securing a venue, handling all invitations, RSVPs, and travel reimbursements, and producing a written report or paper within about 4 to 6 months following the event.


     

Child Protection Mediation in Texas

Family Visitation Round Table Report

Notice and Engagement Round Table

Parental Child Safety Placements or PCSP

Psychotropic Medication Round Table

Tribal State Collaborative Round Table Report

Youth Presence in Court Proceedings Roundtable Report

For more information about our work in child protection courts, please visit the Systems Improvement page, section Specialty Courts.

For more information about our work in Trauma-Informed Care, please visit the Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care page. 


Additional Resources:

  • Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Children and Youth in Foster Care: 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. Other topics include how trauma influences a child’s ability to communicate about the case and how to appropriately respond to a child’s trauma-related behaviors.

The Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) oversees and manages a collaborative video conferencing project between the courts presiding over child abuse and neglect cases, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)/Child Protection Services (CPS), and residential placement facilities contracted by DFPS providing services to the children involved in these cases. 

For more information on how to participate, please visit the Video Conferencing webpage provided by OCA. 

Video Conferencing Tips and Best Practices

Children's Commission YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNKMSsTBhDYi7dmdEc0UshQ/playlists?view_as=subscriber

Topics

  • About the Children's Commission: This 12-minute video describes the mission and goals of the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families.
  • Texas Legislative Sessions:
    • 86th Legislative Session Update on CPS-Related Matters
    • 85th Legislative Session: Changes to the Legal System 
  • Foster Care & Education:
  • Changes to Educational Services for Texas Foster Youth
  • THECB Tuition and Fee Waiver: The tuition and fee waiver in the Texas Education Code offers eligible young adults the opportunity to attend any Texas public institution of higher education without the payment of tuition and fees. The video clarifies the eligibility criteria for the state tuition and fee waiver and explains how the waiver can be utilized in Texas.
  • Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Children and Youth in Foster Care: 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. Other topics include how trauma influences a child’s ability to communicate about the case and how to appropriately respond to a child’s trauma-related behaviors.
  • Beyond the Bench: Law, Justice, and Communities Summit: Texas' two highest courts, the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, spearheaded the Beyond the Bench: Law, Justice, and Communities Summit on December 14, 2016, in Dallas, Texas. The Summit brought together Texas judges, law-enforcement officers, and national, state, and community leaders with the objective of strengthening trust and confidence in our justice system. The Beyond the Bench Toolkit was created to offer assistance in planning similar convenings and to inspire continued conversation about this important issue. 
  • Speak UP! Foster Youth in Court

For more information, please visit the Systems Improvement page, section Youth Voice & Normalcy

Recent Reports: 

Texas Bar Journal October coverIn November 2018, the Texas Bar Journal offered the Children’s Commission the opportunity to submit content for its October 2019 journal which was dedicated to children and juveniles. The Children’s Commission co-authored a Texas Bar Journal article with the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Foster Youth Justice Project entitled “Representing Youth and Young Adults,” which focused on the transition to adulthood for youth who are under the care and conservatorship of the state of Texas, which can involve significant challenges to experiencing normalcy, attaining independence, and developing skills for a successful adulthood. The article acknowledged that lawyers play a critical role in representing teenagers in foster care by ensuring the complex framework of laws that cover health care, education, runaway issues, and transition planning are addressed in addition to advocating for safety, permanency, and well-being. Additionally, the article discussed how lawyers can help teenage clients navigate the critical decision about whether to remain in foster care beyond their 18th birthday to access additional resources and support, including a Supervised Independent Living program. The article also underscored the importance of youth participation in the decisions that impact their lives. 


Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Foster Care Ombudsman:

For children and youth in foster care, complaints can be submitted to the Foster Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is available to assist children and youth who report maltreatment in foster care and has the authority to conduct an investigation into individual complaints. Foster youth may contact the Ombudsman at any of the following:

Monday - Friday 
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 


Guides and Handbooks: 

Websites for Youth in Foster Care: 
CIP Reports & Orders
Additional Resources

Materials published on the Children’s Commission website are helpful reports and resources for judges and attorneys handling child protective services cases and are intended for reference use only. They are not legal advice, and may not represent the official opinion of the Supreme Court Children’s Commission. The inclusion of external links are not endorsements by the Children’s Commission of the content of the websites, or of their policies, services or opinions of the organization or individual. The Children’s Commission reserves the right to decline requests for the addition of external resources.


National Resources

Media


2019

Supreme Court Children’s Commission to Release Report on Building a Trauma-Informed Child Welfare System: A Blueprint

Media Advisory

Press Release

Texas Bar Journal: October Edition, Children / Juveniles

Texas Bar Journal Cover

2017

Children's Commission Celebrates 10 Years: Timeline Overview

CC 10 Year Timeline