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Reports & Resources By Topic

The Children’s Commission maintains this resource webpage to share child welfare-related information. To get notified of new resources, subscribe below to receive the Resource Letter.

Materials published on the Children’s Commission website are helpful reports and resources for judges and attorneys handling child welfare 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.

Tool Kits for Attorneys
Reports & Resources by Topic

Bench Book

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

 


Bench Cards

Bench Cards are abbreviated reference cards on specific hearing types and relevant topical matters for quick reference. Many Bench Cards are available in two formats: as one-page checklists without citations (short) which are intended for easy use at hearings and as extended versions with Texas Family Code citations.

Statutory Bench Cards:

 

Topical Bench Cards:

For more information about our work in disproportionality, please visit the  Disproportionality webpage.

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 Tool Kit was created to offer assistance in planning similar convenings and to inspire continued conversation about this important issue.

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

For more information, please visit Foster Care & Education webpage.

The Texas Blueprint:


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 they 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:

Texas Foster Care & Education Collaborative Reports:


Additional Foster Care & Education Resources

Contacts:

Links:

 

In 2014, 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, a glossary that defines each hearing and case event, as well as a category type for each hearing type and case event. 

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.

For more information about the Children's Commission's work on ICWA, please visit the Tribal/State webpage.

Children's Commission Resource Links:

External Resource Links:

 

For more information about our work in legal representation, please visit the Legal Practice & Process webpage.

Recent publications:

 

 

 

 

 

Tool Kit for Attorneys Representing the Department of Family and Protective Services in Child Welfare Cases

Developed by the Children’s Commission DFPS Representation Subcommittee, the 2022 Tool Kit for Attorneys Representing the Department of Family and Protective Services in Child Welfare Cases contains legislative changes and best practice suggestions to update the original 2018 publication of the tool kit. The tool kit includes changes made in the 87th Texas Legislative Session and new sections on service of citation and notice, interventions, alternatives to removal, court ordered services/motions to participate, reinstatement of parental rights, the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), and common abbreviations and acronyms. The tool kit also contains essential legal basics and topical chapters on concurrent and special issues related to child welfare cases including reasonable efforts, placement, visitation, and supporting older youth in foster care.

 


 

Pamphlet: Fathers' Rights in CPS Cases: What You Need to Know 

 The Children’s Commission Legal Representation Committee has completed a resource pamphlet highlighting fathers’ rights when involved in a CPS case. Modeled after the Commission’s What Does a Parent’s Attorney Do? pamphlet, Fathers' Rights in CPS Cases: What You Need To Know uses accessible language to inform fathers of their basic rights in child welfare legal proceedings and explains the different legal statuses for fathers. The pamphlet is available for PDF download on the Children’s Commission website. To request pamphlets for your jurisdiction, please contact the Children’s Commission at children@txcourts.gov.

 


Incarcerated Parents Poster sample

Rights of Incarcerated Parents in CPS Cases

The Children’s Commission Legal Representation Committee developed a poster as a resource highlighting the rights of incarcerated parents in a CPS case. This resource identifies basic rights in child welfare legal proceedings and explains how parents can participate in the case and in their child’s life, subject to the rules of the institution where they are incarcerated. The poster is available for PDF download below:

 Rights of Incarcerated Parents 


New Video Series: Youth Voice Videos Explaining the Attorney-Client Relationship

“Your Lawyer Works for You” is a two-part video series designed for youth to explain the attorney-client relationship. The videos are a collaboration between the Children’s Commission and the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) and features young adults formerly in foster care discussing their experiences with their attorneys, articulating basics about the attorney-client relationship, and helping youth understand how to resolve problems with their attorneys. The videos are available on the Children’s Commission's YouTube Youth Voice Playlist and the TNOYS YouTube Channel.

 


2022 Tool Kit for Attorneys Representing Parents and Children in Child Welfare Cases

Developed by the Children’s Commission Legal Representation Committee, the 2022 Tool Kit for Attorneys Representing Parents and Children in Child Welfare Cases reflects changes made by the 87th Texas Legislative Session and includes new chapters on children without placement, court-ordered services/motions to participate, medical abuse and neglect, and the reinstatement of parental rights. The tool kit covers essential legal basics at a glance, including pleadings, motions, evidentiary issues, hearing checklists, and related federal law issues. The tool kit also contains topical chapters on concurrent and special issues related to child welfare cases including child well-being, normalcy, dual status, incarceration, and trauma-informed advocacy.

The 2022 Tool Kit for Attorneys Representing Parents and Children in Child Welfare Cases is available in the following:

 


Coloring Book: Sam and the Search for Spots - How Your Lawyer Can Help You

The Children’s Commission Legal Representation Committee created a coloring book designed to help children ages 6-12 understand the role of an attorney ad litem for a child and the attorney-client relationship in a child welfare case. The coloring book was developed by a workgroup which included law professors, board-certified child welfare law experts, and youth with lived experience in foster care and is designed to help children and caregivers discuss what makes an attorney ad litem for the child different from other people in the child’s case and how the attorney can help the child during the case through counseling and advocacy.

This publication is available in two formats at the links below: to print on a personal device, and for commercial print.

in English:

in Spanish:

For assistance or inquiries about this publication, please contact Jessica Arguijo at children@txcourts.gov.

Brochures Explaining the Attorney’s Role for Parents and for Children in a Child Welfare Case

These brochures explain the responsibilities of an attorney for a parent or child towards their client and how to resolve issues between the attorney and the client. The brochures are intended to be shared with parents and foster parents in child welfare cases and may be helpful for judges to have available in the courtroom and/or a courthouse library or information center.       


Publications:

 


Judicial Guide:

Standards of Practice:

For more information, please visit the Mediation webpage. 

For more information about current projects, please visit the Parent Resources Workgroup webpage.

The Parent Resource Guide

The Parent Resource Guide is a handbook designed to help parents understand the Texas child welfare system, their roles and responsibilities when involved in a Child Protective Services case, and the roles and responsibilities of others. The guide is current up to the 86th Legislative Session.

The 2020 Parent Resource Guide is available below in English and Spanish: 

 

The following brochures explain the responsibilities of an attorney for a parent or child towards their client and how to resolve issues between the attorney and the client. The brochures are intended to be shared with parents and foster parents in child welfare cases and may be helpful for judges to have available in the courtroom and/or a courthouse library or information center.       


The Family Helpline

In 2017, the Children’s Commission partnered with Access to Justice and the Children’s Justice Act to fund the Texas Legal Services Corporation to establish the Family Helpline for Strong Families and Safe Children (“Family Helpline”), which provides easily available, statewide access for parents, family members, and community members to basic information, education, and resources addressing issues facing parents and caregivers as they relate to child welfare law including: 

  • Child Protective Investigations;
  • The provision of Family-Based Safety Services;
  • Safety Plan and Parental Child Safety Placements;
  • Chapter 34 non-parent agreements;
  • Termination of parental rights;
  • Custody, access, and visitation;
  • Service plans;
  • The court’s role in conducting hearings and oversight;
  • The right to legal counsel;
  • Non-offending parents, minor parents, and incarcerated parents;
  • Survivors of family violence;
  • Intergenerational issues;
  • Reinstatement of parental rights; and 
  • Other variations of these situations.

The Family Helpline is staffed by experienced attorneys who offer callers live support in a one-on-one exchange. TLSC employs attorneys with child welfare case experience who can offer callers legal information and education and refer to resources such as the Children’s Commission’s Parent Resource Guide, but not offer legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship with the caller.

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

 

 

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 six months following the event.


Special Reports

Senate Bill 1575 (87th Regular Session) Report to the Legislature


Round Table Discussions

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

 

 

 

The Children’s Commission partners with or supports individual court efforts seeking to adopt specialized practices or programs. For more information about our work in child protection courts, please visit the  Specialty Courts webpage.

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

  • TraumaInformedTexas.com includes resources created in whole or in part by members of the Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care (SCTIC) as well as resources from other state and national organizations.
  • Building a Trauma-Informed Child Welfare System: A Blueprint

 

  • February 8th, 2019 Commission Meeting PowerPoint Presentation
  • Judicial Trauma Institute Videos and Materials - 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. Video replays and conference materials can be accessed on the Judicial Trauma Institute webpage.

Additional Resources:

 

The Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) utilizes Zoom technology to support video conferencing for participating courts. For more information, please visit the Zoom Information and YouTube Support webpage provided by OCA. 

For more information about the Children's Commission's work in youth voice and normalcy, please visit the Youth Voice & Normalcy webpage.

Your Lawyer Works for You! What You Need to Know 

The Children’s Commission is pleased to announce a two-part video series designed for youth to explain the attorney-client relationship. “Your Lawyer Works for You.” The videos are a collaboration between the Children’s Commission and the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) and feature young adults formerly in foster care discussing their experiences with their attorneys, articulating basics about the attorney-client relationship, and helping youth understand how to resolve problems with their attorneys. The videos are available on the Children’s Commission's YouTube Youth Voice Playlist and the TNOYS YouTube Channel.


Helpful Resources

Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Foster Care Ombudsman:

For children and youth experiencing 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. Children and youth experiencing foster care may contact the Ombudsman by any of the following means:

  • By phone: 1-844-286-0769; Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
  • Online form: Foster Care Ombudsman Online Submission Form
  • By mail:
    Texas Health and Human Services Commission
    Foster Care Ombudsman, MC H-700
    P O Box 13247
    Austin, Texas 78711-3247
  • Website

Guides and Handbooks: 

Websites for Youth in Foster Care: 

Children's Commission YouTube Channel

 


Topics

87th Legislative Session Update on CPS-Related Matters

Please note that MCLE is not offered for this replay.


 

Effective Advocacy in the Virtual CPS Courtroom: 

On May 22, 2020, the Children's Commission hosted a 90-minute webcast designed for all practitioners on the CPS docket to share best practices when preparing cases and clients for a virtual hearing. Moderated by Hon. Rob Hofmann, Judge of 452nd District Court and Jurist in Residence for the Children’s Commission, panelists discuss topics including how to facilitate the client’s meaningful participation in a virtual hearing; how to properly elicit testimony on Zoom; how to properly enter evidence on Zoom; and how to review orders in a virtual setting. Please note that MCLE is not offered for this replay.


 

Foster Care & Education:

  • Understanding Support for Foster Alumni: Financial Aid, Enrollment Process & Campus Support
  • Enhancing Support for Foster Alumni: Financial Aid, the Foster Care Tuition Waiver, and Campus Support
  • 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.

 

Judicial Webcast on Benefits of Utilizing Technology in Child Welfare Cases

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 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. Please note that MCLE credit is not offered for this replay.


 

Prevention Before CPS Involvement

The majority of cases in the child welfare system involve neglect, which in some cases, conflate poverty and neglect. Families living in poverty are often faced with questions about resources for housing, mental health, food subsidies, parenting resources, substance use disorders, and/or job assistance. Resolution of these issues can also help maintain the safety, permanency, and well‐being of children. Prevention Before CPS Involvement: Supporting Families at Risk gives an overview of DFPS’s Prevention and Early Intervention services aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect at the community level and diverting families from child welfare involvement and introduces additional resources and community supports to further the goal of prevention. Please note that MCLE is not offered for this replay.

 


 

 

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. Please note that MCLE is not offered for this replay.


 

Youth in Court

Speak UP! Foster Youth in Court

CIP Reports & Orders
Additional Resources

Materials published on the Children’s Commission website are intended for reference use only. This information should not be construed as an advisory or ruling by or from the Supreme Court of Texas or any other court on specific cases or legal issues. The Children’s Commission does not endorse any external organizations or content in an associated resource. The Children’s Commission reserves the right to decline requests for the addition of external resources.


National Resources

 

Media

Media Contact:

Jessica Arguijo, Communications Manager
jessica.arguijo@txcourts.gov
512-463-7226

 


 

2021

 

Supreme Court Children's Commission Releases Report on Court-Appointed Legal Representation

Texas Bar Journal: October Edition, Children / Juveniles

Texas Bar Journal Cover

 

 

Children's Commission Celebrates 10 Years: Timeline Overview

CC 10 Year Timeline