Recent News


05/16/06   Texarkana Court of Appeals Rules That Standing Can Be Challenged by a Motion to Dismiss Instead of Summary Judgment

The Sixth Court of Appeals in In the Interest of C.M.C. and J.T.C., 192 S.W.3d 866 (Tex. App.--Texarkana 2006) affirmed the trial court's dismissal of a petition for adoption filed by grandparents. Parental rights had been terminated previously. The grandparents argued that the issue of standing could be decided only by a motion for summary judgment requiring 21 days notice to them. CPS had filed a motion to dismiss challenging the grandparents' standing. The court ruled that dismissal for lack of standing is not a decision on the merits of the case; it is an issue of subject matter jurisdiction and can be decided on a plea to the jurisdiction. The CPS motion was, in effect, a plea to the jurisdiction. In addition, the grandparents did not raise an issue of fact on standing because they did not meet the requirement under Section 102.005 of the Texas Family Code that they have had "substantial past contact" with the children. The evidence presented by affidavit did not, as a matter of law, meet the criteria.


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09/27/16 NCJFCJ Implementation Sites - Due 9/30
09/22/16 Key Federal Legislation Pending Now
09/12/16 Congressional Briefing on Right to Counsel
07/08/16 Hearing-House Human Services Cmte 7/12
07/07/16 Latest Appeal Denied in Class Action
06/27/16 Judicial Travel Scholarships - HHS Summit
06/21/16 New Deputy Asst. Commissioner for CPS
05/09/16 Child Welfare Law Specialization - Comment
04/27/16 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due May 2
04/20/16 Celebration of Karyn Purvis on Sat. 4/23
04/15/16 Hear Hon. Scott McCown on CPS Crisis
04/12/16 Loss of Karyn Purvis, Ph.D. on April 12
04/11/16 New Leaders for DFPS & CPS Appointed
03/21/16 Special Masters Appointed in Federal Case
03/10/16 Call for Nominations - Deadline April 1
03/04/16 DFPS Commissioner Specia Resigns Eff. 5/31
02/26/16 Give Input on CPS Caseworker Skills by 3/5
01/26/16 Update on Federal Case on Foster Care
01/04/16 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 1/8
12/17/15 Decision in Foster Care Class Action
11/02/15 Budget Takes from Crime Vicitms Fund
10/28/15 Over-Medication of Foster Children
10/25/15 Report on Misuse of Antipsychotic Drugs
09/09/15 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 9/22
08/11/15 Children's Commission's Legislative Update
07/15/15 Update on Changes to Family Code
06/01/15 Attorney Scholarships- Due 6/15 & 6/22
05/22/15 See Family Code Changes Effective April 2
04/22/15 Key Hearings in House Committees on 4/22
04/20/15 See Legislative Update as of April 20
04/20/15 Key Hearings April 20 on HB 1014 & SB 414
03/31/15 Pending Legislation on Child Protection
03/30/15 Call for Nominations - Deadline April 14
03/05/15 Free Trial Skills Training - Deadline 3/10
11/19/14 Federal Student Aid for Foster Youth
11/12/14 Public Hearing on HHSC & DFPS Nov. 13
10/10/14 See CPS Case Process Brief & Flowcharts
09/22/14 Help on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
09/12/14 NACC Membership Discount Extended-10/31
09/01/14 New Rules For Screening Foster Parents
08/01/14 Foster Care Redesign Contract Terminated
06/17/14 Key Hearings on DFPS 6/24 & 6/25
06/06/14 Supreme Court Rules on Unfound Ground
06/03/14 Statewide Child Welfare Law Conference
05/30/14 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 6/27
05/15/14 House Select Committee on Child Protection
04/22/14 Key Hearing on Juvenile Justice - 4/22
04/14/14 Key Hearing on Foster Care Redesign - 4/15
03/05/14 April 9 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
02/18/14 New Paper Takes Aim at ICPC Flaws
02/12/14 Key Senate Hearing on CPS - Thurs., 2/20
02/03/14 DOJ Asked to Investigate ICWA Violations
01/21/14 USSC to Interpret Child Porn Restitution
01/17/14 New CPS Asst. Commissioner Appointed
01/17/14 New Transitional Housing for Young Adults
10/22/13 See Legislative Update on Family Code
10/08/13 TLC Now Offers Online CLE Programs
10/04/13 New Resources - Education Advocacy
10/03/13 See Paper Analyzing In re E.C.R.
09/06/13 New Resources - Trauma-Informed Practice
09/05/13 See Compelling Video on ICWA & the Courts
08/23/13 ICE Now Focusing on Parental Interests
08/23/13 See Legislative Update on Child Abuse
08/22/13 Give National Input on Attorney Pay Rates
07/30/13 FBI Thwarts Child Prostitution Scheme
06/26/13 USSC Allows Non-Indian Adoption - ICWA
06/17/13 TX SCt on O Grounds & Removal for "Risk"
06/17/13 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due 7/5
05/28/13 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due 6/14
05/20/13 Statewide Child Welfare Law Conference
04/22/13 Key Legislative Hearings on April 22 & 23
04/16/13 Key Hearings & New Legislative Update
04/03/13 Child-Related Bills with Recent Activity
03/29/13 Child Protection Day at Capitol - April 5
03/29/13 See Updated Legislative Summary
03/20/13 April 8 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
03/12/13 Scholarships for ABA Training-Due April 12
03/11/13 Hearing on Protective Orders - Mar. 12
02/28/13 Study on Mental Health of Detained Youth
02/18/13 Chart of Bills Affecting CPS Cases
02/14/13 Hearing on Child Protection Issues Feb. 19
02/11/13 Key Hearing on DFPS Budget - Feb. 14
02/01/13 Pending Legislation on Child Protection
01/30/13 GAO Report on Use of Title IV-B Funds
01/09/13 New Comm'n on Child Abuse Deaths
01/02/13 Adoption Tax Credit Made Permanent
01/01/13 Congress Passes Bill to Amend FERPA
12/31/12 GAO Report on Children's Mental Health
12/01/12 Judge Specia New Commissioner of DFPS
10/12/12 Deportation Insufficient for Termination
09/13/12 Key Hearing on Foster Care Redesign
08/13/12 LSSS Loses Bid to Privatize Foster Care
08/07/12 ABA Passes Resolution Regarding FASD
07/09/12 TX SCt Rules on Citation by Publication
06/19/12 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 6/28
05/24/12 Attorney Training Scholarships - Due 6/6
05/21/12 Children's Justice Act Grants - Due 6/ 29
05/03/12 Seminal Report -Education of Foster Youth
03/23/12 5th Cir. Decertifies Class re Foster Care
03/15/12 Report - Foster Care Licensing Standards
03/06/12 Report on Effect of CPS Budget on Services
02/03/12 TLC Replicates Online Center for Alabama
01/19/12 TX Settles Risperdal Suit for $158M
01/09/12 April 13 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
12/15/11 Bench Book on Child-Friendly Courtrooms
10/17/11 BBC Report on US Child Abuse Deaths
10/01/11 New Law on Foster Youth Identity Theft
09/29/11 NCJFCJ Judicial Training Scholarships
09/28/11 See Legislative Summary Regarding CPS
09/19/11 Study on Link Between Recession & Abuse
08/17/11 See Texas Child Well-Being Statistics
08/07/11 Possible Court Protest on Friday, Aug. 12
07/13/11 See Legislative Update on Child Abuse
06/20/11 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 6/24
06/20/11 USSC Rules Re Child Support Obligor
06/16/11 USSC Holds Age Is a Factor for Miranda
05/05/11 Foster Care Redesign- Comment by 6/1
05/05/11 Attorney Training Scholarships-Due 5/20
04/11/11 See Legislative Update re Child Protection
03/31/11 Scholarships for ABA Training-Due April 8
03/29/11 Class Action Filed re TX Foster Children
03/15/11 April 1 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
02/25/11 Pending Legislation on Child Protection
12/14/10 Nat'l Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths
12/09/10 Free ABA Training, Dec. 15 at 11:00 am
12/08/10 ABA Seeks Input on Youth in Court
11/19/10 TLC Receives Award for Innovation
10/11/10 TLC Selected as Award Finalist
09/29/10 Faller Discusses Parental Alienation Issue
09/21/10 TX Ranks 50th in Child Abuse Prevention
09/20/10 New Report on Deaths From Child Abuse
09/14/10 Abused, Undocumented Children
08/11/10 Paper on Constitutional Rights of Children
08/11/10 R. Darin Darby Receives State Bar Award
08/10/10 ABA Policies on Child Abuse Proceedings
07/27/10 Jeffs' Convictions Reversed & Remanded
07/22/10 Child Abuse Cmte. Celebrates 25 Years
07/01/10 Travis County Model Court Newsletter
06/30/10 Scholarships for Child Abuse Workshop
05/01/10 DFPS to Redesign Foster Care in Texas
04/30/10 Shaken Baby Injuries Rise
04/15/10 See Letters by Hon, John Specia (Ret.)
04/13/10 Model Court's Seminar on Family Finding
04/09/10 Managing Attorney Position Open in Austin
03/24/10 April 1 Call for Nominations - Bar Award
03/18/10 NACC Reports on Nebraska GAL System
03/17/10 Third Circuit Issues First Sexting Opinion
03/02/10 Annual Report from Austin Model Court
02/26/10 Childress to Answer Judges' Questions
02/25/10 NACC Scholarships Available on March 1
02/18/10 New Tools for Judges in JD Cases
02/12/10 CCCP Releases 2009-10 Databook
12/16/09 See GAO Report on Seclusion & Restraint
11/10/09 "Sexploited" Teens Testify to House Cmte.
10/29/09 Challenge to TX Public-Indecency Law
10/28/09 Scholarships -Juv. Drug Court Training
10/26/09 FLDS Criminal Trial Begins in Eldorado
10/21/09 TX Leads Nation in Child Abuse Deaths
09/29/09 New Email Network for Drug Court Judges
09/22/09 Pro Bono Attorneys Available to Help You
08/11/09 See Charles Childress' Legislative Update
08/03/09 Richard Lavallo Receives State Bar Award
08/01/09 TLC's Director Receives National Award
07/16/09 See Update on Legislation Impacting CPS
07/01/09 See Legislative Update on Child Abuse
06/29/09 Paper on Gates Case Implications
06/25/09 USSC Finds AZ Strip Search Illegal
06/19/09 Gov. Perry Vetoes SB 1440
04/01/09 Charles Childress Joins TLC's Team
04/01/09 Raise Awareness About Child Abuse
03/10/09 Read House Testimony on CPS
03/02/09 Understanding Fostering Connections
02/28/09 Pending Legislation on Child Abuse
02/17/09 Call for Nominations for State Bar Award
02/12/09 Federal Court Decides Autism Case
02/04/09 CPPP Analyzes CPS Caseworker Turnover
01/06/09 See 2009 Statistics on Texas Children
12/22/08 See DFPS' Report on Eldorado FLDS Case
12/17/08 Representing Immigrant Children
12/12/08 Shop Online, Save Money, & Help TLC!
12/10/08 TLC Launches Website for California
11/17/08 Report on Medical Plan for Foster Children
11/03/08 Report on Impact of Federal Law on TX
10/13/08 Sex Offenders Must Register Email
10/08/08 Child Pornography Prosecution Expanded
10/08/08 Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
10/07/08 New Federal Child Welfare Law
09/22/08 TDFPS Kinship Care Program Evaluated
09/10/08 Association of Child Protection Judges
08/22/08 TDFPS Issues Advisory After Gates
08/18/08 Hon. S. McCown re 4th Amendment
08/11/08 Charles Childress Receives Award
08/01/08 FLDS Children's Attorney Reimbursement
07/28/08 Fourth Amendment & CPS Investigations
06/25/08 Death Penalty for Child Rape Rejected
06/25/08 USSC Upholds Confrontation Right
06/02/08 Judge Orders Return of FLDS Children
05/29/08 Supreme Court Denies Writ in FLDS Case
05/22/08 Court of Appeals Rules in FLDS Case
05/19/08 USSC Rules on Child Pornography
05/16/08 Mentors Available for FLDS Attorneys
05/01/08 Amicus Brief Filed in FLDS Case
04/14/08 TLC Is Assisting in FLDS Case
04/14/08 FLDS Case Needs Pro Bono Mentors
03/17/08 CJE: Family Violence & Child Abuse Credit
03/17/08 May 9 CLE on Child Molesters
02/02/08 See Report on Educating Foster Children
12/20/07 TLC's Director on Commission's Council
12/05/07 CJA Grant Funds Are Available
11/30/07 Supreme Court Awards Grant to TLC
11/20/07 Supreme Court Creates New Commission
11/12/07 ABA Center Staff Attorney Job Posting
11/01/07 FASD Funding for Courts and Others
10/08/07 See Report on Federal Funds for CPS
09/25/07 Supreme Court Holds Public Hearing
09/11/07 Supreme Court Sets Public Hearing
08/24/07 See Sampson's Legislative Update
08/13/07 Hon. Gil Jones Serves as Moderator
08/09/07 Hurley Honored by State Bar Committee
07/17/07 See TLC's Legislative Update
06/19/07 SB 758 Repeals CPS Privatization
05/31/07 Exciting Communication Tool for Judges!
05/31/07 TLC Begins Pro Bono Network
04/04/07 CA Is First State to Use TLC Model
04/03/07 CPPP Issues Paper on Privatization
03/22/07 SB 758 Committee Substitute Filed
03/15/07 Dr. Kellogg Available for Questions
01/22/07 CPPP Issues Child Protection Papers
12/10/06 Website Helps Youth Transition
12/06/06 Bill Filed to Deprivatize Certain Services
11/30/06 Nat'l Methamphetamine Awareness Day
11/14/06 Sen. Nelson Considers CPS Privatization
11/09/06 Class Action Against FL Agency
10/25/06 Dr. Bruce Perry to Speak in Dallas
10/14/06 Child Welfare Law Specialists Certified
08/10/06 Statement of Points Must Be Specific
08/03/06 Frivolous Hearing Held Constitutional
07/14/06 Uniform Act Regarding Children Published
05/16/06 Standing Challenged by Motion to Dismiss
03/29/06 Unborn Child Drug Convictions Reversed
03/27/06 C. Childress Joins Colleague Connection!
02/28/06 AG Says 'Meet' w/ Child Means in Person
02/09/06 Houston Court Upholds Embryo Contract
01/16/06 Link to CPS & Licensing Handbooks Here
12/28/05 AG Says New Law Is Unconstitutional
11/14/05 Evidence Expert to Take Site Users' Calls
10/11/05 ABA Substance Abuse CLE to Be at SMU
07/22/05 Can't Find It Here? Request a Resource!
07/22/05 See Sampson/Tindall's Legislative Update
06/27/05 USSC Rules on Protective Orders
06/15/05 Colleague Connection Has GROWN!
06/01/05 TLC Helps Other States Create Websites
05/31/05 Senate Bill 6 Makes Sweeping Changes
05/15/05 Seek/Share Information on Experts
05/07/05 TLC's Coming Attractions
02/17/05 Questions? Contact TLC's Help Desk
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09/27/16   Applications Are Due Friday, September 30, To Be an NCJFCJ Implementation Site

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is inviting child abuse and neglect courts to apply to become one of four new Implementation Sites within the NCJFCJ's Implementation Sites Project, which is a 3-project to provide child abuse and neglect courts with technical assistance and support. There is no direct funding provided to the Implementation Sites, but they will receive targeted training, technical assistance, and support, including on-site visits, a trauma assessment, and All-Sites meetings. Implementation sites are expected to implement meaningful change, evaluate progress, and share challenges and successes with other courts across the country. For futher details and to access the application, click here.

09/22/16   The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 Is Pending Before Congress

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 is currently pending before Congress. This Act would make sweeping changes to the child welfare system, including allowing states to use federal funds for evidence-based prevention services to keep children out of foster care. "Prevention services" would include mental health services, substance abuse services, and in-home parent training and home visiting services. The Act would also reduce "inappropriate" group home ending federal reimbursement if states "inappropriately" use non-family placements. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is supporting this bill, as is the Children's Defense Fund. To view a summary of the bill by the Chair of the U.S House Ways and Means Committee, click here. To view the NCJFCJ's position statement, click here. To view a position statement by the Children's Defense Fund, click here. To view a position statement be several organizations on the requirement of clinical and nursing staff at residential treatment centers, click here. To view the full text of the bill, click here. To view a letter the Children's Defense Fund has asked organizations to sign to support the bill, click here.

09/12/16   Child Advocacy Organizations Brief Congress on Children's Right to Counsel

On September 12, 2016, the American Bar Association, Children's Advocacy Institute, First Focus, and the National Association of Counsel for Children are briefing Congress on children's right to counsel from 12:30-2:00 pm Central time. Panelists will speak about issues including, among others, child protection cases, immigration courts, and juvenile justice cases. The briefing is sponsored by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA). To watch the briefing, click here. To see a list of panelists and topics, click here.

07/08/16   Texas House Human Services Committee Will Conduct a Hearing on Several Issues Concerning Foster Children on July 12, 2016

The Texas House Human Services Committee will conduct a hearing beginning at 9:00 am on July 12, 2016, in Room E2.030 to hear invited and public testimony on the interim charge to: "Examine the Department of Family and Protective Services' policies and procedures, including prevention measures and resources, dedicated to eliminating child abuse and fatalities within the foster care system; explore ideas and strategies to increase the number of foster families and improve the delivery of services to children with high needs; review adoption policies, including disruptions, and make recommendations for possible improvements. Also, monitor and assess the continuation of foster care redesign." To view the hearing notice, click here. To watch the live broadcast of the House Committee hearing, click here.

07/07/16   Fifth Circuit Denies State's Petition for Writ of Mandamus Concerning Judge Jack's Appointment of Two Special Masters

On July 7, 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the State's latest challenge to Judge Jack's appointment of two special masters assigned to make recommendations for implementing Judge Jack's goals for improving the Texas foster care system. The appellate court denied the State's Petition for Writ of Mandamus challenging the appointment, allowing the work of the special masters to continue. To review a news article about the ruling, click here.

06/27/16   The Supreme Court Children's Commission Is Offering Travel Reimbursement Scholarships for Judges to Attend the HHS Cross-Sytems Summit

The Texas Supreme Court Children's Commission is offering travel reimbursement scholarships for judges to attend the HHS Cross-Systems Summit to be held on August 16-17 in San Marcos, Texas. The FREE Summit focuses on cross-system collaboration to address racial inequalities and service delivery in health and human services, education, juvenile justice, housing, and disabilities. To register for the Summit, click here. To review the Children's Commission travel reimbursement guidelines, click here. To request a scholarship or for additional information, please contact Kristi Taylor by email at

06/21/16   Tiffany Roper, J.D., Will Serve as the New Deputy Assistant Commissioner for CPS

Tiffany Roper, J.D., will serve as the new Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Child Protective Services. Prior to this new position, Tiffany has served as the Assistant Director of the Texas Supreme Court Children's Commission for many years, and her last day in that role is June 30, 2016. TLC congratulates Ms. Roper on her new position and anticipates that she will do equally great work in her new role as she has done in the past with the Children's Commission.

05/09/16   Comment Period Deadline Is May 31, 2016, for New Legal Specialization by TBLS in Child Welfare Law

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) is taking public comments through May 31, 2016, to determine whether to recommend to the Supreme Court of Texas adoption of a new specialty area in Child Welfare Law. If you are interested in seeing that this area of law be included for board certification, or if you want to provide input on what the standards should be, it is very important that you send your comments to no later than May 31. To read the letter from TBLS seeking comments, click here. To view the proposed standards, click here.

04/27/16   Supreme Court Children's Commission Is Providing Scholarships for Attorneys for the Child Abuse Track at the Advanced Family Law Conference - Deadline May 2

The Texas Supreme Court Children?s Commission is offering registration scholarships to attorneys for the Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Track at the annual State Bar of Texas? Advanced Family Law Conference. This track covers current topics of interest to Texas attorneys who practice on the CPS docket. The Advanced Family Law CLE 1-Day CAN track will be held live in San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, with upcoming video replays in Dallas on September 23, 2016, and South Padre Island on October 21, 2016. The deadline to apply is Monday, May 2, 2016. To access the application, click here. To view the conference brochure, click here.

04/20/16   Public Memorial To Celebrate the Life of Karyn Purvis Is Saturday, April 23

There will be a public memorial service to celebrate the life and legacy of Karyn Purvis, Ph.D., at 10:00 am on Saturday, April 23, 2016, in Fort Worth. For details about the celebration, click here. To read about the life and work of this extraordinary champion for children, click here.

04/15/16   Hon. Scott McCown (Ret.) Speaks Out About CPS Crisis

For many years Hon. Scott McCown (Ret.) has been a thought leader on issues concerning protection of abused and neglected children. Judge McCown has been speaking out about the current crisis in Child Protective Services. To hear a brief interview of Judge McCown by the Texas Standard, click here. To read an op-ed by Judge McCown, click here.

04/12/16   Karyn Purvis, Ph.D., Passed Away on April 12, 2016

It is with very great sadness that TLC announces that Karyn Purvis, Ph.D. passed away on April 12, 2016, after a long battle with cancer. Dr. Purvis was an internationally renowned child development expert and the Director of TCU's Institute of Child Devlopment. She brought the need for trauma-informed systems to the forefront of child protection work. Through her pioneering work, Dr. Purvis developed Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a highly effective approach to working with and healing traumatized children and youth. Her passing is a huge loss for children and all who help them. To read the announcement posted by TCU, click here.

04/11/16   New Leaders for DFPS & CPS Are Appointed

Gov. Abbott's administration has appointed new leaders for DFPS and CPS. Former head of the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency, retired Chief Henry "Hank" Whitman, was appointed as Commissioner of DFPS. Kristine Blackstone, who is currently the Deputy Director for Field Operations in the Child Support Division of the Attorney General's Office, will serve as Asst. Commissioner of CPS. To view a Dallas Morning News article discussing these appointments and reactions from CPS caseworkers and legislators, click here.

03/21/16   Fifth Circuit Denies State's Motion to Stay and Judge Jack Appoints Two Special Masters

On March 21, 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the State's Motion to Stay the district court's order in the federal class action suit regarding Texas foster children. The appellate court accepted the class members' argument that the only immediately appealable order in the case was the prohibition against placing children in "unsafe placements" and that this mandate should be narrowly construed "as only precluding placements in foster group homes that lack 24-hour supervision." The class members had argued that beyond this one issue, the breadth of Judge Janis Graham Jack's injunction had not yet been determined because she would appoint a special master to make recommendations for implementing the goals outlined in her opinion and decide her further injunctive relief based on those recommendations. In a footnote, the Fifth Circuit commented that the appointment of a special master was not reviewable at this stage because the State had not filed a petition for a writ of mandamus. The Fifth Circuit concluded that "we find evidence supporting the grave problems arising from the lack of 24-hour supervision in foster group homes. As to that claim only, we find that the State has not made a showing of a likelihood of success in overturning the injunction." As to balancing the harm to the State of denying the stay and the harm to the class members of granting it, the Fifth Circuit held, "The public interest supports allowing the special master to proceed. Because the safety and rights of vulnerable children are at stake, and the immediate injunctive relief ordered is concentrated on a single, narrow mandate, the [cite omitted] factors weigh in favor of denying a stay. On the same day, in the district court, Judge Jack appointed two special masters, who were the candidates submitted by the plaintiffs. The special masters will begin their work on April 1. To view the Fifth Circuit's order, click here. To view a news article identifying the special masters, click here.

03/10/16   The State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect Seeks Nominations for Its Annual Fairy Davenport Rutland Award for Distinguished Service to Children and Families

The State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect is seeking nominations for its annual Fairy Davenport Rutland Award for Distinguished Service to Children and Families. The award is named after Ms. Rutland in recognition of her exceptional leadership as a founding member and chair of the Committee for over 20 years and her continuing dedication and many ongoing contributions to the field of child welfare. The award honors an attorney who has made a substantial contribution to the field of advocacy for abused and neglected children. The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2016. To view the nomination form, click here.

03/04/16   DFPS Commissioner Specia Announces Retirement, Effective May 31, 2016

Hon. John J. Specia, Jr. announced that he will step down as Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ("DFPS") effective May 31, 2016. TLC is saddened by this loss of strong leadership for DFPS, and we thank Commissioner Specia for his tireless efforts to protect children during his entire career and for his courage and innovation in working to improve Child Protective Services in Texas. To borrow the words of Judge Janis Graham Jack in her opinion in the federal class action suit regarding Texas foster children, Commissioner "Specia's career in child welfare and public service is extensive and commendable....Over the years he has received numerous awards, most recently the Texas Appleseed Award in 2014 for his impact in improving the lives of Texas's most vulnerable children." To view a news article about the resignation, click here.

02/26/16   Chance to Give Input to Legislators & DFPS on Caseworker Skills - Deadline Sat., Mar. 5

The Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-TX) has created a survey to solicit input on what constitutes a great caseworker at CPS. What skills do they need? What makes a good caseworker? Who are the people who can best serve children and families? The survey authors are particularly interested in getting input from the judges and attorneys who have contact with CPS caseworkers in their court cases. The results will be used to to advocate for funding and recruitment based on the survey responses. NASW-TX will collate and analyze the results and draft a report that will be made available to you, the public, the legislature, DFPS,and others. The data will be used to support smart hiring, training, and retention of caseworkers, in the hope of supporting DFPS as they continue to refine their process of seeking the best candidates to serve as caseworkers. Please take a few mintues to provide your input to this important project. If you have any questions or concerns about the survey, please contact Will Francis, Government Relations Director for the National Association of Social Workers - Texas Chapter. He can be reached at The deadline for responses is Sat., March 5, 2016. To access the survey, click here.

01/26/16   Several News Articles Provide an Update on the Federal Class Action Suit Regarding the Texas Foster Care System

The State has appealed the Dec. 17 decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas regarding the Texas foster care system and has asked for a stay of the appointment of a Special Master. Both sides, however, have submitted names of their proposed candidates to serve as the Special Master, should one be appointed. To view a Dallas Morning News article regarding the appeal, click here. To view a Lubbock Avalanche-Journal news article about the appeal and the candidates proposed to serve as Special Master, click here. Texas judges have written articles regarding the case and the appeal. Prior to the appeal, Hon. Darlene Byrne, current President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, urged Texans to work together to improve the system, calling for "child welfare administrators, lawmakers, judges, social service providers, and others to do a better job of working together to find ways to help ensure that all the children of our state receive the safety, permanency, and loving care they deserve." To view Judge Byrne's article, click here. In response to the appeal, Hon. Scott McCown (Ret.), current Director of the Children's Rights Clinic at UT Law School, urged Gov. Abbott to "boldly call a special session to reform foster care and protect these kids." Judge McCown commended Hon. John Specia (Ret.), Commissioner of DFPS, (as did Judge Jack in her Dec. 17 opinion), and called him a "strong commissioner". Like Judge Jack, Judge McCown pointed to the lack of funding provided by the State as the root cause of the problems detailed in the Court's opinion. He concluded, "Convincing a higher court that our foster care system should be graded a D instead of an F, will not help our children....Instead of fighting in court while children suffer, the Governor and the Legislature should act now." To view Judge McCown's article, click here. If you haven't had a chance to read the court's full opinion, a recent article by Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynne Floyd includes details of the lives of 4 of the plaintiffs and calls the court's opinion "the saddest legal document I have ever read." To view Ms. Floyd's article, click here.

01/04/16   Children's Commission Is Providing Free Trial Skills Training for Attorneys in CPS Cases - Application Deadline, 5:00 pm, Friday, January 8

The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is offering a free, hands-on Trial Skills Training for less experienced attorneys handling Child Protective Services cases in Texas who want to improve their litigation skills. A fictional CPS case and live witnesses are partnered with top-notch instructors to coach attendees through all stages of trial. For purposes of the training, "less experienced" means that prior to applying, applicants who take court appointments will have completed an average of 3 final termination trials as first chair, and applicants who represent DFPS will have completed 8 final termination trials as first chair. The course is being conducted in Austin on April 20-22, 2016. Space is limited to 21 attorneys who represent children, parents, or DFPS on the CPS docket. Registration is free, and travel reimbursement scholarhips up to $600 will be available to attorneys accepted into the program who must travel to Austin to attend. The Children's Commission will contact each applicant's appointing judge to confirm suitability for the training. The deadline to apply is 5:00 pm, Friday, January 8, 2016. For more information and to submit an application, click here.

12/17/15   Federal Court Finds that Texas Violates Foster Children's Constitutional Right to Be Free from Unreasonable Harm Caused by the State

On December 17, 2015, the U.S. Disctrict Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, issued its opinion in the class action brought against various State officials on behalf of Texas children in foster care. Hon. Janis Graham Jack found that Texas violates foster children's Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process right to be free from unreasonable risk of harm caused by the State. Judge Jack will appoint a Special Master to oversee implementation of a lengthy list of specific goals. Judge Jack concluded that "Texas's foster care system is broken ... it is broken for Texas's PMC foster children, who almost uniformly leave State custody more damaged than when they enter.... Texas's foster children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm." She also took time to note that Hon. John "Specia and his staff have the best intentions to run an effective foster care system." To view the full opinion, please click here.

11/02/15   Congress and the Obama Administration Strike Deal to Take $1.5 billion from Crime Victims Fund for General Spending

The Wall Street Journal reported on November 1, 2015, that the most recent budget deal between Congress and the Obama administration takes $1.5 billion from the Crime Victims Fund and transfers it to the general treasury. The fund receives fines imposed on criminals to pay for victim services. By the end of the 2014 budget year the fund stood at $12 billion, according to the Journal, and in 2015 it will receive another $5 billion. Victim advocates are concerned the move will set a precedent for taking money from the fund. Last year about $2.4 billion went in the form of grants to local victim services groups.

10/28/15   The Obama Administration Has Asked Congress to Fund Programs to Reduce Over-Medication of Foster Children and to Increase Appropriate Screening and Intervention

In May 2015 Children's Defense Fund president Marian Wright Edelman devoted her "Child Watch" column to the overuse of drugs prescribed to foster children. Specifically, Edelman decried the use of psychotropic drugs that are not appropriate for use in children. She pointed out that drugs are often used in place of psychotherapy because of lack of resources. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children, Youth, and Families has asked Congress for $250 million in the upcoming budget to create an infrastructure that would increase screening, assessment, and interventions instead of relying on prescription drugs.

10/25/15   Report Sounds Alarm and Evaluates Misuse of Antipsychotic Drugs for Children Enrolled in Medicaid

On March 25, 2015, the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report entitled "Second-Generation Antipsychotic Drug Use Among Medicaid-Enrolled Children: Quality-of-Care Concerns." The report follows an evaluation of medical records of children in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas in which 687 Medicaid claims were made for second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs). SGAs treat psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression. The evaluation examined quality of care, given that little research has looked at the safety of prescribing these drugs for children. The evaluation found that only eight percent of SGAs were prescribed in conformance with medically accepted pediatric indications. HHS recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services review, with state Medicaid programs, the use of SGAs for children; that CMS and states periodically review medical records of children prescribed SGAs; and, that CMS and states consider how to implement oversight of SGAs prescribed to children. To view the report, click here.

09/09/15   Children's Commission Is Providing Free Trial Skills Training for Attorneys in CPS Cases - Application Deadline, Monday, September 14

The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is offering a free, hands-on Trial Skills Training for less experienced attorneys handling Child Protective Services cases in Texas. A fictional CPS case and live witnesses are partnered with top-notch instructors to coach attendees through all stages of trial. The course is being conducted in Austin on November 4-6, 2015. Space is limited to 21 attorneys who represent children, parents, or DFPS on the CPS docket. The Children's Commission will contact each applicant's appointing judge to confirm suitability for the training. The deadline to apply is Monday, September 14. For more information and to submit an application, click here.

08/11/15   See the Legislative Update Provided by the Texas Supreme Court Children's Commission

The Texas Supreme Court Commission for Children, Youth and Families has graciously shared their legislative update with TLC. The Commission has also provided highlights of some of the more significant changes to the Texas Family Code. To view the highlights, click here. To view the update, click here.

07/15/15   See Childress Paper Tracking Changes to Texas Family Code

Charles Childress, guest commentator for Sampson and Tindall's Family Code, has once again provided TLC with his legislative update tracking changes to the Texas Family Code. To review this legislative update, click here

06/01/15   Supreme Court Children's Commission Is Providing Scholarships for Attorney Training at Four Important Conferences

The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is generously providing scholarships to a limited number of Texas attorneys in connection with 4 important conferences this summer. Applicants must either be currently representing DFPS or taking court appointments on the CPS docket. Two scholarships are for the two conferences sponsored by the ABA Center on Children and the Law in Washington, D.C. in July. The ABA Conference for Parents' Attorneys is entitled "Achieving Justice Against the Odds" and will be held from July 22-23, 2015. The ABA Conference for Children's Attorneys is entitled "Advancing Access to Justice for Children and Families" and will be held from July 24-25, 2015. Each scholarship is a reimbursement for approved expenses up to $1,200. The deadline to apply for either of these scholarships is Friday, May 22, 2015. Another scholarship is for the registration fee for the one-day Child Abuse and Neglect Track at the State Bar's Advanced Family Law Conference. This live one-day track is sponsored by the State Bar Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect and will be held on Wednesday, August 5, 2015, in San Antonio, with video replays in Dallas on October 2, 2015, and in South Padre Island on October 16, 2015. The deadline to apply for this scholarship has been extended to Monday, June 22, 2015. The final scholarship is for the 38th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference to be held in Monterey, California, from August 25-27, 2015. This scholarship is for the conference registration fee and is only available to those who have received their NACC Child Welfare Law Specializatioin. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is Monday, June 15, 2015. For further details about each conference and scholarship, and to access the application form for each scholarship, please click here.

05/22/15   See Family Code Changes Signed by Gov. Abbott on April 2, 2015

On April 2, 2015, Governor Abbott signed Committee Substitute Senate Bill 219, which is effective immediately. The bill seeks to clarify and update the health and human services statutes and changes several provisions of the Texas Family Code. Charles Childress has written a paper compiling all the sections of the Family Code which are affected by C.S.S.B 219. Mr. Childress is the former Clinical Director of the Children's Rights Clinic at UT Law School and has served as a guest commentator for Sampson & Tindall's Texas Family Code. He also serves as TLC's pro bono Consulting Attorney. TLC thanks Mr. Childress for the many ways he has shared his extensive knowledge with judges and attorneys across Texas! To view the paper, click here.

04/22/15   Key Hearings on HB 524, HB 853, HB 2790, & HB 3748 Are Scheduled for April 22

The House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues is scheduled to conduct hearings on HB 524 and HB 853 (and several other bills) on April 22. HB 524 is similar to SB 414 (which was heard by the Senate State Affairs Committee on April 20) and creates the circumstance where error in consolidating a parental termination suit with a grandparent suit could make the judgment void and could compromise the judgment so that the parental termination would be subject to challenge at any time. To learn more, please see the comments on page 13 of the updated legislative summary posted in TLC's Recent News section on April 20. HB 853 adds Chapter 57A to the Code of Criminal Procedure to require use of a pseudonym for a child victim and makes disclosure of the child's name a criminal offense (Class C misdemeanor) except in limited circumstances. This could affect child protection efforts since it will not be possible to determine from public law enforcement records if a child in a particular case was a prior victim of a perpetrator. To learn more, please see the comments on pages 24-25 of the updated legislative summary posted in TLC's Recent News section on April 20. The House Education Committee is scheduled to conduct hearings on HB 2790 and HB 3748 (and several other bills) on April 22. HB 2790 creates measures to ensure that certain adopted students are informed of their eligibility for tuition and fee exemptions at certain institutions of higher education. HB 3748 relates to coordination of education support services for and information regarding students who are currently or were formerly placed in foster care and includes helping transition students in substitute care who move from one school to another and designates a "liaison officer" to help students who were formerly in foster care. To view the hearing notice for HB 524, click here, for HB 853, click here, for HB 2790, click here, and for HB 3748, click here. To watch the live broadcasts of the House Committee hearings, click here.

04/20/15   See Updated Summary of Pending Legislation Affecting Child Protection as of April 20

Sandra Hachem, Senior Assistant County Attorney for Harris County, has prepared an updated legislative summary of pending legislation as of April 20, 2015, relating to child protection. The summary of each bill include comments regarding possible consequences and other issues of note. Ms. Hachem's latest summary also includes legislative action taken through April 17, 2015. TLC thanks Ms. Hachem for allowing us to share these summaries with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. Please note that the comments do not reflect the official position of the Harris County Attorney or of TLC. To view the updated summary, click here.

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