Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book and Bench Cards
The Children's Commission publishes a Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book (Bench Book) which outlines the state and federal statutory requirements for judges handling child welfare cases. The Bench Book also includes topical sections as well as statutory and case law citations, which are linked online. The Bench Cards provide this information through easy-to-use checklists that outline relevant laws at different stages of a child welfare case as well as by topic (i.e., education, human trafficking).
The Bench Book is updated annually and was revised in October 2021 to include updates throughout from the 87th Regular Legislative Session and new chapters on the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and domestic violence. Additionally, there is a new Bench Card on remote hearings. The online version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available at the links below as a free, downloadable PDF for print and also as an interactive resource through LawBox. If accessing via mobile device, downloading the LawBox App first is recommended to access the Bench Book and instructions are included below.
While the Bench Book was originally designed for and is primarily used by judges, many attorneys and other child welfare stakeholders also find it to be informative and helpful. Although the Commission has a limited number of printed copies for distribution to judges, the Bench Book is available at the links below for digital access and download.
If you are a Texas judge responsible for hearing child welfare cases and interested in receiving a printed copy of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, limited printed copies may be available.
The Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available in the following:
- PDF Print Version (Updated October 2021)
- Online and Interactive provided by LawBox
- Available for mobile or tablet device by downloading the LawBox App
Bench Cards are abbreviated reference cards on specific hearing types and subject matter for quick reference. Bench Cards are available in two formats: as short one-page checklists without citations intended for easy use at hearings and as extended versions with Family Code citations.
Bench Cards included in the Bench Book:
- At a Glance
- Adversary Hearing
- Status Hearing
- Permanency Hearing Before Final Order
- Final Hearing
- Permanency Hearing After Final Order
- Foster Care and Education
- Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
- Medical and Mental Health Care for Foster Youth
- Human Trafficking
- Remote Hearings
- Bench Card to Reduce or Eliminate Disproportionality
- NCJFCJ Courts Catalyzing Change (CCC)
- American Bar Association Judicial Bench Cards for Engaging Youth in the Courtroom:
- Bench Cards for Engaging Young Children (ages 0-12 Months)
- Toddlers (1-3 years) and Preschoolers (3-5 years)
- School-Age Children (5-11 years)
- Adolescents (12-15 years)
- Older Adolescents (16+ years)
To download the Bench Cards, please visit the Bench Book, Checklists & Special Topics section on the Reports & Resources page.