Texas Lawyers for Children
Protecting the Rights of Abused and Neglected Children
Texas Lawyers for Children (
TLC), a program of The Child Protection Connection
®, protects abused and neglected children from being harmed
by the systems meant to keep them safe.
TLC protects the rights of these vulnerable children in the courts,
the community, and the legislature, and connects, equips, and mobilizes
a network of over 3,000 judges, attorneys, and advocates to change children's
lives for the better.
As a leader in the field of child protection law in Texas for the past two
TLC has developed a program of services tailored to meet specific
critical and unaddressed needs for children in foster care with the goal
to maximize resources that have the greatest impact on the children we
serve. The initiatives listed below outline the primary components of
TLC's' comprehensive program:
Legal and Legislative Advocacy: During the 2017 legislative session,
and in preparation for the 2019 session,
TLC has used its years of experience to strategically speak on
behalf of foster children in Texas, by meeting with key legislators to
educate them about the effects of proposed legislation and testifying
at important hearings. In addition,
TLC's Online Center for judges and attorneys proved to be an invaluable
tool during the 2017 legislative session in mobilizing the legal community
to speak up, as
TLC sent ongoing updates and email alerts to its vast network
of Texas child protection judges and attorneys who use the Online Center
and many notices to our generous donors and sponsors. As a result of
these efforts, legislators were "inundated" with responses
on important, life-changing bills for foster children.
TLC provides legal advocacy in cases affecting children's legal
rights. Most recently, with the support of Hankinson LLP,
TLC submitted an amicus brief on behalf of foster children in
M.D. v. Abbott, 152 F.Supp.3d 684 (S.D. Tex. 2015), the federal class
action suit filed on behalf of Texas foster children in which the court
held that Texas violates the constitutional rights of foster children
to be "free from an unreasonable risk of harm".
Statewide Policy and Systemic Improvements:
TLC utilizes extensive experience and knowledge to advance best
practices and promising standards in child protection cases for statewide
policy and systemic improvement.
Training in Trauma-Informed Advocacy: When those who work on behalf
of foster children do not understand how trauma affects abused and neglected
children, how to appropriately respond to traumatized children, and how
to identify trauma-informed treatment and services, the results can be
tragic: children are punished for their fear responses, misdiagnosed
with mental illness, overmedicated with psychotropic medications, institutionalized
in psychiatric facilities, restrained and secluded, and forced to exit
foster care without any ability to cope or regulate their emotions.
TLC has been a leader in helping judges and attorneys understand
the needs of traumatized children and how to promote a trauma-informed
system of care within their jurisdictions.
TLC's Online Legal Resource and Communication Center:
TLC is proud to be the only organization that provides an innovative
and interactive Online Legal Resource and Communication Center ("Online
Center") to inform, train, Connect, and mobilize judges and attorneys
throughout Texas so they can fulfill their unique role within the system
to protect abused and neglected children throughout the State. To learn
more about the specific features of the online center
TLC's Online Center not only assists judges and attorneys to improve
outcomes for children in individual cases but also serves as a catalyst
for systemic improvement.
5. Pro Bono Network:
TLC recruits legal professionals throughout the state to form
a statewide pro bono network, enabling any attorney in the state to register
to assist court-appointed attorneys in handling an abused child's case.
TLC recently began making presentations at law firms and businesses
in North Texas to attorneys about the needs of abused and neglected children
in ways the attorneys can become part of
TLC's pro bono network and use their specialized legal skills
to help with
TLC's advocacy in the courts, the community, and the legislature.
6. Education Advocate Project:
TLC recruits, trains, supports, and supervises volunteer attorneys
to serve as Education Advocates for abused and neglected children in
Dallas County courts. The Education Advocates role is to focus solely
on the education needs of the child and take actions to ensure the child's
TLC partners with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program for recruiting
TLC provides training, support, and supervision for volunteers
in person and through its online services. The Education Advocates are
appointed as co-counsel to the child's court-appointed attorney.
TLC's Dallas County project model can be replicated in other counties.