Texas Lawyers for Children offers one hour ethics credit for program on foster care to prison pipeline
Texas Lawyers for Children invites you to learn more about the foster care to prison pipeline. Join us from 11:45-1:00 on Friday, Dec. 11 for our upcoming "Champions for Children Ethics CLE." We will be honoring Laura Bauer and Judy L. Thomas, investigative reporters for the Kansas City Star and creators of the "Throwaway Kids" Video Series. You will have a chance to hear these reporters speak about their work investigating the foster care to prison pipeline. This CLE has been approved for one hour of Texas Ethics CLE credit. Thanks to a generous sponsor who wishes to support child advocates, we are able to offer a limited number of FREE CLE registrations on a first come, first served basis. Click here
to register, and enter the code ALGEA2020 at checkout to receive your free CLE registration.
Texas Lawyers for Children recently added important new resources to its Online Resource Center. Browse any of the topics following these titles to read the new materials. Helping Children Participate in the Permanency Process by Christina Rainville, Bennington County Vermont State's Attorney Office: Child: Court Attendance; Trauma-Informed Judicial Practice; Evidence: Child Witness. Immigrant Crime Victim Access to Relief During the COVID-19 Crisis Under the CARES and FFCRA Acts, by Rafaela Rodrigues and Leslye E. Orloff, National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project: Families First Coronavirus Response Act; Domestic Violence: Victims; Rights: Victim. Involving Children in Hearings: Judicial Bench Card, by ABA Permanency Barriers Children in Court Workgroup: Child: Courtroom Attendance. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): Lessons From the Last Frontier, by Rachel Espejo, J.D. and Courtney Lewis, J.D., Alaska Public Defender Agency: Indian Child Welfare Act and Native Americans. When Attorneys Should Object to the Overuse of Psychiatric Medication in Foster Children by Martin Irwin, M.D. and Suchet Rao, M.D.: Psychotropic Drugs and Psychiatry: Child. Making the Agency's Witness Your Own: Cross Examining the Case Worker by Victoria Bleier and Eleanor Wilkinson: Cross-Examination; Trial: Preparation; and Caseworkers. Termination of Parental Rights & Adoption: Brave Conversations on Parental Loss and Holistic Advocacy by Heather Wilson: Childhood Traumatic Grief; Separation Trauma; Trauma-Informed Advocacy: Ad Litem; and Termination: Trauma to Child. Emergency Motion for an Order That Child Be Placed at Home by Cristina Freitas and Debbie Freitas: Coronavirus; Congregate Care: Placement; and Residential Care: Placement. Making Least Restrictive a Reality: Tools to Challenge Congregate Care Placements by Cristina Freitas and Debbie Freitas: Least Restrictive Setting: Placement; Racial Discrimination: Child Welfare; Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018; Records: School; and Trial: Preparation. Safeguarding the Rights of Parents With Intellectual Disabilities in Child Welfare Cases: The Convergence of Social Science and Law, by Robyn M. Powell: Americans with Disabilities Act; Mental Capacity: Termination; and Disabled Adults. Trauma: What Child Welfare Attorneys Should Know from National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Trauma-Informed Advocacy: Ad Litem; Trauma: Treatment; and Trauma: Assessment.
The Children's Commission's Legal Representation Committee created a Tool Kit for Attorneys Representing Parents and Children in CPS Cases. 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 covers concurrent and special issues related to CPS cases including child well-being; normalcy; dual status; incarceration; and trauma-informed advocacy. To view a free, downloadable PDF of the tool kit, click here.
Texas Lawyers for Children, the Child Protection Connection for Texas, will be hosting its free Legal Professional Trauma Training via webinar this fall. While we are disappointed that COVID-19 has limited our ability to conduct the remaining trauma training sessions live, we are glad to be able to offer the full training in a digital format.
We will conduct the Legal Professional Trauma Training via webinar on the following dates: September 16-18; September 30-October 2; and, October 14-16.
Please note that the training starts at noon on Wednesday and runs all day on Thursday and Friday. We offer frequent breaks to allow training participants to take care of work and personal needs. The training is designed to be completed in its entirety, with each session building on the last. Because the sessions on Wednesday are foundational to all of the other learning, we kindly ask that you only register if you can attend from noon-4:00 on Wednesday afternoon.
The first portion of the course will include an overview of the impact trauma has on children and the effect responses have on children's recovery and case outcomes. The second portion will focus on how to advocate for children who have experienced trauma in our child welfare and juvenile justice systems and ways legal professionals can transform the system to one that is trauma-informed. Former foster youth will participate in the training to share their experiences. After the training, ongoing coaching and support will be provided through TLC's Online Center.
These training sessions are free and open to anyone who works with or makes decisions on behalf of children in our child protection and juvenile justice systems, including multidisciplinary professionals. Attendees receive 15 hours of CLE credit and Family Violence CJE credit.
For a brochure on the trainings, click here.
On Aug. 6, 2020, the Supreme Court of Texas issued its twenty-second order regarding conduct of state court proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic. It allows courts to continue to extend dismissal dates in parental rights termination cases and renews previous orders allowing remote proceedings and other accommodations for court participants. It also forbids jury trials before Oct. 1, 2020, with an exception for a limited number to be convened pursuant to a study being conducted. The previous order concerning no change to visitation and adherence to relevant school schedules was also renewed, despite schools not being open. The order also allows attorney disciplinary action matters to be held remotely. To read the order, click here. You can also find the order from the Texas Lawyers for Children home page (www.TexasLawyersforChildren.org) by going to Resources, Browse by Topic and choosing Coronavirus or Remote Hearings, then Articles & Papers.
During the first week of August 2020, the American Bar Association House of Delegates approved three resolutions addressing child protection. One resolution encourages the legal community to engage with individuals who have lived experience in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. An attached report provides concrete examples for legal organizations to engage individuals with lived experience and to improve diversity efforts. To read it, click here. Another urges governments to prohibit strip searches of children except in narrow circumstances, to conduct strip searches respecting a child's sexual orientation and gender identity, to prohibit body cavity searches, and to promote awareness of the traumatic effects of strip searches of children. To read it, click here. The third resolution urges legislation and policies prohibiting use of seclusion and mechanical and chemical restraints on preK-12 students. To read it, click here.
The Children's Bureau has issued a technical bulletin to answer stakeholder questions regarding a January 2019 policy change allowing federal reimbursement for a portion of the costs of legal representation for parents and children in child protection cases. Pre-2019 policy prevented Title IV-E funds from being used to compensate states for the cost of parent and child legal representation although funds were available for legal representation of the state agency. Questions from Title IV-E agencies and tribes led to this July 2020 bulletin explaining steps that states and tribes must take before claiming the funds, the process of reporting the costs of such representation, allowable sources of matching state funds, and, the possibility of contracting with private and public agencies for providing legal representation of children and parents. Funds may also be used for partial reimbursement of staff costs and short-term training of attorneys. The bulletin clarifies that costs of child and parent representation prior to removal are also qualified for reimbursement. Only the Title IV-E agency in each state may apply for the funds and distribute them to jurisdictions that compensate such attorneys. The Children's Bureau is a division of the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To view the technical bulletin, click here. Previous bulletins can be found in TLC's Online Center under the topic Title IV-E Agency by going to "Resources" on the menu bar, then "Browse by Topic".
Texas Lawyers for Children is proud to be a partnering organization for the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) 2020 Annual Meeting, scheduled to take place as a virtual conference on July 15 and 16. As a partnering organization, TLC's users get a 10% discount on registration. You can register here and use discount code "AM20TLC" to receive the 10% discount. From the NAWL website: "Join leading women lawyers from across the United States and abroad at the NAWL 2020 Annual Meeting. NAWL will recognize and honor leading lawyers who have made a significant impact to improve and diversify the legal profession, as well as NAWL members who, through their time and effort, have made exceptional contributions to fulfilling NAWL's mission. In addition, you will have the opportunity to participate in interesting substantive programming along with plenty of networking opportunities. You will leave inspired to reach new levels of success in your practice."
The court monitors assigned to oversee the Department of Family and Protective Services's compliance with the court order in M.D. v. Abbott, the federal class action lawsuit for the protection of children in the permanent managing conservatorship of the State, issued their first comprehensive report on June 16, 2020. After an extensive review, the Monitors concluded, "Although the State represented to the Monitors in September 2019 that, with few exceptions, Texas was compliant with the Court's remedial orders, the Monitors discovered otherwise: the results in some instances surfaced substantial threats to children's safety . . .[the] findings reveal a disjointed and dangerous child protection system, inefficiently and unsafely divided between two state agencies, where harm to children is at critical times overlooked, ignored, or forgotten." M.D. v. Abbott, Case No. 2:11-cv-00084, Doc. 869, 12 (June 16, 2020). Infractions by the State that the monitors cited include lack of response to hotline calls reporting abuse of children in foster care, failure to adequately oversee facilities, use of physical restraint, and abuse by "serial alleged perpetrators" who move from facility to facility. Id. at 13. In fact, according to the results of the review, "Texas's overdue, incomplete, and at times, incompetent investigations of child abuse or neglect betray the State's special relationship with, and responsibility to children, placing them at risk of future harm by perpetrators whose maltreatment of children goes unchecked. . . . . .The problem is systemic and enduring . . . as children's safety hangs in the balance." Id.
To view the complete report,
click here. To view an article from The Texas Tribune,
click here and an article from the Dallas Morning News,
On May 13, 2020, National Association of Counsel for Children will host "Trauma-Responsive Skills for Lawyers During COVID-19," a free webinar open to members and non-members. Presenters Rebecca M. Stahl, J.D., LLM, SEP and Cynthia Bowkley, J.D., CPPM, SE Advanced Student will address the ways COVID-19 is affecting legal practice, attorneys, and clients. They will suggest simple tools to manage stress and maximize performance in response to the physical, mental and emotional impacts on attorneys. How to assist clients in regulating trauma reactions in high stress situations, including the courtroom, will be addressed also. The webinar is 1:00-2:30 p.m. Central. Click here to register.
Texas Lawyers for Children continues to post resources in the Online Center to assist judges and attorneys in managing child protection dockets during the coronavirus crisis. All resources are free to registered users and can be located by going to the menu bar and clicking "Resources," "Browse by Topic," "Coronavirus." Click on a resource type, such as Forms, Links, or Articles and Papers. To view a list of recently added resources, click here.
Carrington Coleman law firm has issued "COVID-19 Client Alerts" that explain federal loan programs available to small businesses during the coronavirus crisis. Texas Lawyers for Children is making the alerts available to its users, many of whom are small and solo firms in need of economic relief. The alerts may be found as one document in the Texas Lawyers for Children Online Resource Center. Go to the home page, Browse by Topic, Coronavirus, Articles and Papers. Other resources to assist in your practice are there also.
On April 2, from 3-4:30 p.m. Central time, the National Association of Counsel for Children ("NACC") and the ABA Children's Rights Litigation Committee will present a webinar entitled "Zealous Advocacy During COVID-19: Practical Tips and Best Practices." This free presentation is open to all who register. In the words of the NACC -- "In the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, many aspects of life have dramatically changed -- schools, court hearings, social events. What has not changed, however, are the critical and urgent needs of youth involved in the child welfare system. Join advocates from around the country who will share guidance and practical tips to safeguard and advance the rights of youth in the child welfare system during COVID-19 and beyond. Practitioners will walk away with concrete tools to determine what ongoing and unique client needs present themselves during these times and how to maintain, modify, and increase zealous advocacy amid the pandemic."
To register, click here.
The State Bar's Child Protection Law Section is seeking nominations for its first annual Rutland Excellence in Advocacy Award. The award is named after Fairy Davenport Rutland in recognition of her exceptional leadership as a founding member and Chair of the State Bar's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect for over 20 years and her continuing dedication and many ongoing contributions to the field of child welfare. The award recognizes an attorney who has provided distinguished services within the child protection field. The deadline for nominations is March 4, 2020. The award recipient will be announced at the Advanced Child Protection Law Course, which is being conducted in Houston on March 26 & 27. To view the requirements for nominations, click here.
The Child Protection Law Section of the State Bar is offering scholarships for its Third Annual Advanced Child Protection Law Course, which is being conducted on March 26 & 27 in Houston, with Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., as the keynote speaker. You must be a section member to apply. Scholarships will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. For details about the conference and how to apply for a scholarship, click here.
The Child Protection Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, chaired by Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann, will be hosting its Third Annual Advanced Child Protection Law Course on March 26-27 in Houston. This advanced course features a keynote address by Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., on the misdiagnosis of mental disorders in foster children and the inappropriate use of psychotropic medication, as well as presentations involving 2 Texas Supreme Court Justices, multi-ethnic issues, a technology workshop, a prep session for the Child Welfare Law Specialization Exam, and many other timely topics. To view the conference brochure,
click here. To register online,
On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, the National Association of Counsel for Children will offer a free webinar on its two new resources, the Family First Legal Guide and the Tool for Engaging the Legal Community in Family First Implementation. These resources will assist the legal community and child welfare agencies with implementing provisions of the Family First Prevention Services Act, federal legislation passed in 2018 with the goal of keeping children safely with their families and avoiding the trauma of entering foster care. The Legal Guide is written for attorneys, judges, magistrates, and court personnel, and provides an overview about how the Family First Act changes federal child welfare law, identifies opportunities to use the Act in legal advocacy and judicial decision-making, and offers guidance on supporting effective implementation in local communities. The Tool for Engaging the Legal Community can facilitate dialogue between child welfare agency implementation teams and the legal community to address potential unintended consequences and maximize positive impact for children and families. The webinar is titled New Legal Resources for Incorporating the Family First Act into Your Practice in 2020. It will take place from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. CST on January 14. To register, click here.