Update on 2013 Changes to Family Code and Various Other Codes Is Now Available Here
TLC is grateful to legislative expert Charles Childress (TLC's pro bono Consulting Attorney) for providing TLC with his comprehensive legislative update of all sections of the Family Code affected by bills passed in the 83rd Legislative Session, as shown on the Legislative Reference Library index, as well as various sections of other codes. He has also provided TLC with a PowerPoint presentation he gave, along with Barry Brooks, focusing on provisions of interest to those handling child protection and/or child support cases. To view the legislative update,
To view the PowerPoint,
TLC is delighted to announce that our Online Training Service of accredited CLE programs is now ready for your use! To see the available video-recorded programs, sign in and click on "Conferences and CLE" on the red menu bar; then click on "Online Training Programs." The first series of programs focuses on topics and issues that can help children's ad litems fulfill their new duties regarding the education of their child clients. TLC thanks Carole Hurley (Chair, State Bar Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect), Lori Duke (Clinical Professor, Children's Rights Clinic, UT Law School), and Ian Spechler (Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Texas) for serving as the trainers for these programs. All three of these education experts are also participating in TLC's Colleague Connection attorney email network, so you have the ongoing opportunity to ask them questions and benefit from their expertise. There is also a program on Representing Children and Youth in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship of the State. TLC thanks Charles Childress (Former Clinical Director, Children's Rights Clinic, UT Law School), Lynne Corsi (Dallas Attorney), Kristy Piazza Blanchard (President, Texas Young Lawyers Assoc.), and Stephanie White (Former TLC Research Attorney) for serving as the trainers for this program. TLC also thanks TYLA for its help in producing the video. We hope that you will find these CLE programs valuable in your work and look forward to receiving your feedback!
To assist judges and attorneys with addressing the educational needs of children in foster care, and in keeping with the new legislation and the recommendations of the Education Committee of the Texas Supreme Court Commission for Children, Youth and Families, TLC has expanded its topics concerning the education of foster children. All resources can be found by clicking on "Resources" on the red menu bar of TLC's Online Center, then by clicking on either "Browse by Topic" or "Browse by Resource Type".
TLC thanks Sandra Hachem (Sr. Asst. County Attorney, Harris County and former Chair, State Bar Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect) for graciously providing TLC with her paper on
"Emergency Child Safety and Tex. Fam. Code §161.001(1)(O) After In re E.C.R.". Ms. Hachem's paper analyzes the Texas Supreme Court's decision in the case of In re E.C.R., No. 12-0744, 2013 Tex. LEXIS 473 (Tex. June 14, 2013), and discusses implications of the case regarding emergency removal of children due to risk of abuse. To view Ms. Hachem's paper,
In keeping with the national attention on the need for judges and attorneys to address the trauma to children from abuse and neglect, TLC has significantly expanded its materials on child trauma to include Trauma-Informed Judicial Practice and Trauma-Informed Advocacy with materials from the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and other well-respected groups. All resources can be found by clicking on "Resources" on the red menu bar above, then by clicking on either "Browse by Topic" or "Browse by Resource Type".
This compelling video is the result of the collaborative efforts of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, the National Resource Center for Tribes and Tribal STAR, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Mississippi Department of Human Services. The video was produced for the Mississippi Administrative Office of the Courts. The video includes comments from judges across the country, including Hon. Len Edwards and Texas' own Hon. Darlene Byrne. To view the video, please click here.
TLC thanks R.J. Hazeltine-Shedd (Asst. County Attorney, Harris County) for providing TLC with his 2013 Statutory Update of Child Abuse and Neglect Legislation. This update discusses new laws passed in the 2013 Legislative Session which impact child abuse and neglect issues and would be of particular interest to judges and attorneys handling cases filed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. To view the update,
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently published a Directive to establish policies and procedures to address the placement, monitoring, accommodation, and removal of alien parents or legal guardians who 1) are primary caretakers of minor children; 2) have a direct interest in family court proceedings; or 3) have minor children who are U.S. Citizens. The goal is to ensure that immigration enforcement activities do not unnecessarily disrupt the parental rights of alien parents and legal guardians of minor children. The Directive also establishes a "Parental Rights Coordinator" who will oversee training, collaboration, and information-sharing among all federal, state, and local personnel, offices, and agencies involved in enforcing the nation's immigration laws or ensuring child welfare. Click here to view the Directive.
In connection with its National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System, the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law is seeking input regarding parent representation, particularly parents' attorney compensation. The project desires to gather as much data and information about the various compensation rates parents' attorneys earn in each state, with the intent of sharing this information with other groups that are interested in improving how and how much parents' attorneys are paid. To complete the survey click here. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Jill Reyes, J.D., at 202-654-3501, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FBI recently reported recovering 105 juveniles and arresting 159 pimps in their nationwide operation targeting underage prostitution. Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to address the growing problem of child prostitution. To date, the FBI and its task force partners have rescued more than 2,700 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,350 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 10 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets. Click here to view the FBI's press release about the operation.
On June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first major ruling on the Indian Child Welfare Act since 1989 in the case of Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl, No. 12-399, 2013 U.S. LEXIS 4916. The Court reversed the South Carolina Supreme Court and remanded for further proceedings. A birth mother placed a newborn (3/256 Cherokee) with an adoptive couple, who initiated adoption proceedings. The birth father, classified as a Cherokee, attempted to relinquish his parental rights but then changed his mind. The state trial court and supreme court denied the adoption, holding that the adoptive couple had not met their burden under ICWA. The U.S. Supreme Court held that ICWA did not apply. First, the Court reasoned that ICWA refers to the burden to show that serious harm to the child is likely to result from the parent's continued custody, but the birth father never had custody prior to the adoption hearing; therefore, he could not have had "continued custody." Second, the Court noted that ICWA requires a showing that remedial efforts were made to prevent the break-up of the Indian family, but here there was no Indian family because the father abandoned the child before birth and never had custody. The Court also pointed out that ICWA gives placement preferences to other Indian families or the tribe but concluded that that provision does not apply when no such eligible candidates have sought to adopt the child.
Click here to read the opinion.
On June, 14, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court provided guidance on the standards for removal and on what is required for termination of a parent's rights for failure to comply with a court order in the case of In re E.C.R., No. 12-0744, 2013 Tex. LEXIS 473 (Tex. June 14, 2013). The Court ruled that the provision of Tex. Fam. Code § 161.001(1)(O) requiring proof that the child was removed "for abuse or neglect of the child," in order to terminate parental rights for failure to comply with a court order, does not require actual harm to or neglect of the removed child. Risk of abuse, as shown by previous physical abuse of a sibling, is sufficient. The Court further concluded that in this particular case, the finding necessary to terminate under subsection O was conclusively established as a matter of law. Consequently, in the future, it will be error for a court not to grant an O finding when presented with similar evidence.
Click here to read the opinion.
The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is generously providing scholarships to a limited number of Texas attorneys to pay the registration fee for the 36th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference, sponsored by the National Association of Counsel for Children, which will be held from Aug. 26 - 28, 2013, in Atlanta, GA. This application requires a letter from a judge recommending the applicant and verifying that the applicant is currently providing legal representation on the child protection docket. An application will not be considered complete until this letter is received. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is Friday, July 5.
To access the online application form, click here.
The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is providing scholarships for Texas attorneys to attend the one-day Child Abuse and Neglect Workshop at the State Bar's Advanced Family Law Conference on Aug. 7, 2013, in San Antonio. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is 5:00 pm on Friday, June 14. The scholarship covers registration for the one-day workshop only and does not include expenses for travel or lodging. To access the application form,
click here. To view the conference brochure, click here.
The Texas State Bar Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect is sponsoring a statewide child welfare law conference in Houston on June 19 and offering 6 hours of CLE for just $10!! Funding was provided by the Texas Supreme Court's Commission for Children, Youth and Families, among others. This conference, "Changing Lives -- Breaking the Cycle," is in collaboration with the Infant and Toddler Court Initiative of Fort Bend and Harris County, which is sponsoring the Keeping Infants and Toddlers Safe (KITS) Annual Training as part of this conference on June 20-21. Topics on June 19 include: keynote address by TDFPS Commissioner John Specia, panel including Hon. Len Edwards, past president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and break-out sessions for parents' attorneys, children's attorneys, and TDFPS attorneys. The conference will also provide a great opportunity to network with colleagues from across the state. Participants can register for one, two, or three days of the conference. To see the full agenda, click here. To register for the conference, click here.
Several key child protection bills were scheduled for hearing on April 22 and 23. Bills set for hearing include the following: SB 130 (relating to representation by prosecuting attorneys in proceedings for protective orders against family violence) was scheduled for hearing in the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee on Mon., April 22, at 2:00 pm or upon adjournment. SB 1836 (regarding use of a Vital Statistics Fee to fund home visiting programs) is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Tues, April 23, at 9:00 am. HB 3399 (relating to the stability of placements for children in the conservatorship of the Department) is scheduled for hearing in the House Human Services Committee on Tues., April 23, at 10:30 am or upon adjournment.
To watch the past or live House Committee hearings click here.
To watch the Senate Committee hearing live, click here.
Several key child protection bills were scheduled for hearing on April 16 and 17. Also, Madeline McClure, Executive Director of TexProtects (the Texas Association for the Protection of Children), has provided TLC with a new legislative update on various bills related to child protection that have had recent activity. TLC thanks Ms. McClure and TexProtects for allowing TLC to share this information with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. Bills set for hearing include the following:
SB 1758 would establish a task force of CPS program staff, outside business CEO's, labor consultants, human resource leaders, and others to design a performance-based system to improve the hiring and retention of CPS caseworkers. SB 1758 was scheduled for hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Tues. April 16, at 9:00 am. SB 384 would increase the range of penalties from Class A misdemeanor to state jail felony for failing to report child abuse with the intent to deceive or conceal abuse. SB 384 is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Wed., April 17 at 1:30 pm or upon adjournment. HB 1205 is the companion bill to SB 384. HB 1205 is scheduled for hearing in the House on Wed., April 17.
To watch the House hearing live, click here.
To watch the Senate Committee hearings live, click here.
To view past Senate Committee hearings, click here.
To view the legislative update click here.
Madeline McClure, Executive Director of TexProtects (the Texas Association for the Protection of Children), has provided TLC with a legislative update on various bills related to child protection that have had recent activity. TLC thanks Ms. McClure and TexProtects for allowing TLC to share this information with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. To view the update,
Over 20 child protection organizations are working together to organize a Rally for "Child Protection Day" at noon on Friday, April 5, on the South Steps of the Capitol to ask the public and legislators to keep child protection a top priority. In order to have a strong showing of support for child protection, the organizers are hoping to have 1,000 people on the South Steps. They are asking participants to wear royal blue, the child abuse prevention color, to the Rally. For further details about the Rally,
Texas CASA, through the efforts of intern Lara Bubalo, has updated its chart of bills affecting children and families in CPS cases to show recent legislative activity regarding the bills included. Andrea Sparks, Director of Public Affairs for Texas CASA, has provided this update to TLC to be shared with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. TLC thanks Ms. Sparks, Ms. Bubalo, and Texas CASA for providing this information. Please note that comments included in the chart regarding priority issues for various organizations do not reflect the position of TLC. To view the update, click here.
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 8, 2013.
Click here to view the nomination form.
The Texas Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families is providing scholarships of the registration fee and 3 nights' hotel expenses for Texas attorneys to attend either of the following two highly acclaimed national training conferences sponsored by the American Bar Association and relating to representation of children and parents in child protection cases: the Third National Parent's Attorney Conference on July 10 & 11 in Washington, DC, and the Fifteenth National Conference on Children and the Law on July 12 & 13, also in DC. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is 5:00 pm on Friday, April 12. To be complete, an application must include a letter of recommendation from the attorney's presiding judge. To view information about the application process and to access the application form,
SB130 has been scheduled to be heard in the Senate Jurisprudence Committee on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 1:30 pm or upon adjournment, in Room 2E.20 (Betty King Cmte. Rm.). This bill clarifies that a prosecuting attorney who represents a party in obtaining a protective order is not precluded from representing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. To see the hearing notice, click here.
To watch the hearing live, click here.
The Northwestern Juvenile Project (NJP) is a longitudinal study that investigated the mental health needs and long-term outcomes of youth detained in the juvenile justice system. NJP studied a randomly selected sample of 1,829 youth who were arrested and detained between 1995 and 1998. While many studies examine the connection between risk factors and the onset of delinquency, far fewer studies follow youth after they are arrested and detained. The NJP study found that the mental health needs of youth detained in the juvenile justice system are far greater than those in the general population and that the mental health needs of these youth are largely untreated. The study found that among detainees with major psychiatric disorders and functional impairment, only 5% had been treated in the detention center before release. To view the bulletin, click here.
Texas CASA, through the efforts of intern Lara Bubalo, has created a chart of bills affecting children and families in CPS cases. Andrea Sparks, Director of Public Affairs for Texas CASA, has provided this chart to TLC to be shared with the judges and attorneys who use TLC's Online Center. TLC thanks Ms. Sparks, Ms. Bubalo, and Texas CASA for providing this information. Please note that comments included in the chart regarding priority issues for various organizations do not reflect the position of TLC. To view the chart,
On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Chamber, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear several bills involving important child protection issues. Some of the bills and brief summaries are listed below. SB 425 - strengthens the Family Code's requirements that CPS consult with attorneys ad litem, guardians ad litem, and CASA's in making placement decisions. A committee substitute to SB 425 may be filed adding the provision of HB 1185, which eliminates the requirement that attorneys ad litem and guardians ad litem destroy records relating to children upon termination of the appointment. This would allow attorneys and CASA's to retain files for use in the event a child comes back into care. SB 426 - expands Home Visiting programs across the State so that more families can access such services. (Home visiting has been shown to reduce the rate of child abuse and neglect and to improve the health, educational, social-emotional, cognitive, and other outcomes for children.)
SB 429 - says that prior to CPS case dismissal, judges must consider what other orders are needed to best protect the child. Such orders could include child support and visitation, among others. To see the hearing notice, click here.
To watch the hearing live, click here.
On Thursday, February 14, 2013, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II (Health and Human Services) will hear budget recommendations regarding the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
To see the hearing notice, click here.
To watch the hearing live, click here.
Sandra Hachem, Senior Assistant County Attorney for Harris County, prepares summaries of pending legislation relating to child protection for the State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (the "Committee"). These summaries include comments where there are items of possible concern or other issues of note. 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 Committee or of TLC. To view the summaries of key bills affecting child protection,
The Government Accounting Office has issued a report on its study of how selected states use the flexible funding offered under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act. The GAO looked at specific uses of the funds, what alternative federal funds states use, and what services child welfare agencies have difficulty securing for children. The report notes that child welfare agencies face a variety of challenges that make it difficult for them to secure services such as parenting classes and substance abuse treatment. To read the report, click here.
On January 9, 2013, President Obama signed H.R. 6655, "An Act to Protect our Kids," into law. The Act creates a new national commission to develop a comprehensive strategy for reducing child deaths due to abuse and neglect. The 12-person multidisciplinary commission will be appointed by the President and Congress.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made the adoption tax credit permanent. It, however, did not make the adoption credit refundable, so it will only benefit those adoptive families who have a federal income tax liability. The North American Council on Adoptable Children recommends that those who adopted a child in 2012 submit a Form 8839 with their 2012 taxes even if they do not have a tax liability. Although they will not receive an adoption credit refund with their 2012 taxes, the credit can be carried forward up to five additional years. Families might benefit later if either their tax situation changes or the credit is made refundable in the future, and then they won't have to amend their 2012 taxes. For more information, click here.