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 protection cases and includes topical sections and checklists. The Bench Book also includes special issues as well as statutory and case law citations, which are linked online.

The Bench Book is updated annually and was recently revised to include updates to all topical chapters. New sections on best interest, of proof required throughout the stages of a CPS case, contempt, and the importance of youth voice in court have been added. Additionally, there is a new bench card on addressing disproportionality.
The online version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available at the link below and by mobile app.

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 is not able to provide hard copies to everyone, a PDF of the Bench Book is available for download.

If you are a Texas judge responsible for hearing CPS cases and interested in receiving a hardbound copy of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, please contact the Children's Commission at children@txcourts.gov.


Bench Book

The Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available in the following:

  1. Open the LawBox app.
  2. Select "The Texas Children's Commission".
  3. Enter "children" for both username and password.

LawBox download and set up instructions


Bench Cards

Bench Cards are abbreviated reference cards on specific hearing types and subject matter for quick reference. Extended versions with Family Code citations are also available.

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
  • Disproportionality:
    • 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.