Resources & Reports
Materials published on the Children’s Commission website 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.
Attorney Practitioner Manual:
The Texas Practice Guide for Child Protective Services Attorneys, DFPS
The online version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available by clicking on the link below.
If you are a Texas judge responsible for hearing CPS cases and interested in receiving a hard copy of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, please contact the Children's Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book
The mobile version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available via the LawBox app.
- Open the LawBox app
- Select "The Texas Children's Commission"
- Enter "children" for both user name and password
Budget Round Table: The 2012-2013 CPS Budget and Its Effect on Services to Families
Child Fatalities - Protect Our Kids Commission:
The Protect Our Kids (POK) Commission is a 12-person commission chaired by Judge Robin Sage. Established by Senate Bill 66 during the 83rd Legislative Session, the POK Commission is charged with identifying promising practices and strategies to address and reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect, and recommending a comprehensive statewide strategy for reducing those fatalities. For more information, please link here.
Protect Our Kids Commission Report, December 1, 2015
Child Safety: Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys – Published by the American Bar Association and ACTION for Child Protection, Inc. – Developed by the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services and the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
Child Welfare Certification: The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) offers a certification for attorneys who represent children, parents and agencies in child abuse, neglect and dependency cases that is modeled after physician board certification. (Click here to see more information on Child Welfare Law Certification).
Family Visitation in Child Protective Services Cases: Family Visitation Round Table
A round table discussion between multidisciplinary stakeholders on family visitation in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases was held to help advise DFPS and its stakeholders on moving from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to family visitation to one that serves the individualized needs of children and families. The discussion focused on the importance of visits between parents and the children who have been removed from their care; the motivation and punishment aspects of visitation; the frequency, supervision, and location of visits; and the development of a plan that both embodies the elements that guide families and advocates toward an outcome that serves the child’s best interest and recognizes the parents’ rights to information, access, and possession.
Reference Documents and Forms
Important Information for Parents about Visitation
No Contact Visitation Plan
Parent/Supportive Adult Visitation Record and Observation Form
Stages of Supervision
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child and Family Visitation Best Practice Guide
Visitation Plan, Child Protective Services- Permanency and Conservatorship
Foster Care and Education
For more information about our work on this issue, please link here.
Released in 2012, the Texas Blueprint includes over 125 recommendations to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in the Texas foster care system. The Texas Blueprint was the result of an 18-month collaborative effort that included over 100 stakeholders representing the child welfare, court, and education systems.
In 2012, the Supreme Court of Texas created a Task Force to prioritize and begin implementing the recommendations in the Texas Blueprint over a two year time period. The Task Force Final Report includes updates on the status of the Blueprint recommendations, collaborative accomplishments, and suggestions for continued implementation.
Hearing Observation Project: Hearing Observation Project Report
Homeless Youth Handbook (Online)
To request a hard copy of the Homeless Youth Handbook
Texas Homeless Education Office
In 2014, 113,063 students were identified as homeless by Texas public schools. 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. Older youth in foster care are particularly vulnerable to homelessness because they may run away. Additionally, youth are often homeless within a very short time after aging out of foster care. Research has shown that about a third of foster care alumni experience at least one night of homelessness by age 26.
Texas Appleseed, in partnership with Weatherford International and Baker & McKenzie LLP, recently released 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 participates on the Statewide Human Trafficking (HT) Prevention Task Force and works with the child welfare community on child welfare related issues such as identification, services, training, data collection, and collaboration.
Presentation: Human Trafficking and Child Welfare by Justice Eva Guzman, State Bar of Texas Advanced Family Law Conference, August 2015
Presentation: Human Trafficking & How Texas Treats Victims of Sexual Exploitation by Ann Johnson, Dr. Olivia McGill, and the Hon. Angela Ellis, Child Welfare Judges Conference 2015
Presentation: Spotlight on Sexual Exploitation: Why Kids in Care are at Risk, How NCMEC can help Protect and Recover Them, and How We Can All Prevent Victimization, Presentation by Andrea Sparks
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): Assessment of ICPC in Texas, 2008 Report
Judicial Workload in Texas:
Weighted Caseload Study: Texas Child Protective Services Workload Assessment Final Report
The Legal Representation Workgroup exists to explore various aspects of legal representation in Texas including due process, financial impact on the state and counties, policy and legislation that supports the representation system, outreach, education, training, standards of representation, timely and meaningful court hearings, and high quality legal advocacy.
Resource Paper Regarding State Appropriation for Legal Representation for Children in Child Protective Services Cases
The Children’s Commission serves as the critical connection between Child Protective Services and the judiciary. No child enters or leaves foster care without a court order. For the 30,000 children in the care of the state, a judge will:
- decide where the child will live, with whom, and for how long;
- decide whether the child will be allowed to see siblings and other family members, how often, and under what circumstances;
- decide whether a child's relationship with his or her parents will be terminated forever.
The Bench Book will be updated following the close of the 85th session.
Summary provided to the Texas Senate, 85th Legislative Session
Using Mediation Effectively in Child Protection Cases, Presentation at CWJC by Cynthia Bryant and Cynthia Osborne, University of Texas
Notice and Engagement
Parental Child Safety Placements or PCSP
When DFPS initiates an investigation of a parent and makes a determination that the child may not be safe with the parent, the Department may allow the parent to place the child temporarily with a family member, a Parental Child Safety Placement, or PCSP, to help ensure the child’s safety while the agency completes the investigation.
The Children’s Commission convened over 60 child welfare partners for a Round Table to discuss recent improvements to the PCSP process, challenges the Department and others have yet to address, and what additional practice, policy or legislative changes might be in order to more specifically address the appropriate use of PCSPs, the options available to DFPS when it must close its case and exit the PCSP arrangement, and the services and supports available to families during and after a PCSP.
Parent Resource Guide: 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.
Parent Resource Guide PDF (For print)
A searchable and mobile-friendly version is also available on LawBox and can be accessed below:
Discussion of barriers to permanency in Harris County child-protection cases: Children in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Round Table on Permanency Executive Summary
Judges' Strategies for Getting Kids to Permanency, PowerPoint Presentation, CWJC 2015
Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report, 2010
Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report (Update), 2013
Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report (Update), 2016
Texas HHSC "Use of Psychotropic Medications for Children in Texas Foster Care" Outcomes Report, Fiscal Years 2002-2014
Texas DFPS Webpage: Psychotropic Medications- A Guide to Medical Services at CPS
Residential Treatment Center Manual:
Texas DFPS Transformation:
Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Report with Commission Decisions on DFPS
DFPS Report to the Sunset Advisory Commission: Child Protective Services Transformation
Video: Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Children and Youth in Foster Care
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.
One-hour of MCLE credit is available for this on-demand presentation which can be accessed below:
PowerPoint Presentation: Trauma-Informed Advocacy
To claim MCLE credit, please email email@example.com for more information.
Tribal State Collaborative: Tribal/State Collaborative Round Table Report 2014
- Aging Out: A Guide For Those "Aging Out" of Foster Care In Texas, Fifth Ed.