The Children's Commission has developed a number of judicial education and training efforts including webcasts (produced by the Commission and produced in partnership with TexasBarCLE) and annual conferences.

Below is a description of current judicial webcast and conference offerings produced by the Children's Commission:

Webcasts

On October 22, 2022, the Children’s Commission hosted a live webcast entitled “Enhancing the Experience of Children & Youth in Court: How Judges and Attorneys Can Prepare and Support Youth Attending Court.” The discussion focused on the importance of youth voice and best practices for preparing a child client for a court appearance, including speaking with the judge about their needs and goals. The webcast featured a panel with a judge, attorney, and leaders with lived experience in the child welfare system. The panel included the following speakers:

  • Hon. Delia Gonzales, Associate Judge of the Dallas County Child Protection and Permanency Court; 
  • Lori Duke, Co-Director and Clinical Professor at the Children’s Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law; 
  • Betty Bajika, former Young Adult Leadership Council Member, Texas Network of Youth Services;
  • Leroy Berrones Soto, Project Coordinator, Child Welfare Reviews Project, JBS International, Inc.; and
  • Ryan Harris, former Conservatorship Caseworker, Department of Family and Protective Services.

Recording: Enhancing the Experience of Children & Youth in Court: How Judges and Attorneys Can Prepare and Support Youth Attending Court

MCLE Information: The recorded webcast has been approved for 1.0 hour of MCLE, with 0.25 hours of ethics credit. Judges seeking MCLE credit hours may contact CCTraining@txcourts.gov after viewing the session recording to receive information on how to self-report their MCLE to the State Bar of Texas.

TBLS certification and recertification hours: This course has been approved by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for 1.0 hour of certification and recertification continuing legal education requirements for attorneys and paralegals in the specialty field of Child Welfare Law.

On May 17, 2022, the Children’s Commission hosted a virtual presentation designed for judges and attorneys entitled “Overview of Qualified Residential Treatment Program Legal Requirements.”  

Children’s Commission Executive Director, Jamie Bernstein, Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP) Lead, Texas Flowers-Moffett, and DFPS QRTP Specialist, Tiffani Tillman provided an overview of the QRTP model, the QRTP placement review process, and the required legal findings that must be made in court in relation to QRTP placements. Additionally, a sample case scenario was discussed to provide practical information to participants.

Judges are especially encouraged to view this webcast as it includes specific information about the court review requirements for placement of a child or youth in a QRTP and the related timelines required by the Texas Family Code.

The recorded webcast was approved for 1.0 hour of MCLE credit. The video replay, accompanying PowerPoint presentation, QRTP Referral Example, and responses to the questions posed in the live broadcast are now available below.

RecordingOverview of Qualified Residential Treatment Program Legal Requirements

Additional Resources:

MCLE Information for Self-Reporting

Judges seeking MCLE credit hours may contact CCTraining@txcourts.gov after viewing the session recording to receive information on how to self-report their MCLE to the State Bar of Texas.

On March 8, 2022, the Children’s Commission presented a 75-minute webcast entitled “Child Welfare Case Primer: Statutory Hearings and Current Issues.” The Honorable Rob Hofmann, Judge of the 452nd District Court and Children’s Commission’s Senior Jurist in Residence, provided a summary of the nuts and bolts of a child welfare case from investigations through various final outcomes. The presentation included a review of statutory requirements, including recent legislative changes, and current issues including dual status youth and placement. Best practices and practical tips for achieving positive permanency for children and engaging families and youth in the court process were also provided.

The recorded webcast was approved for 1.25 hours of MCLE and 1.25 hours of Family Violence training credit. The video replay and accompanying PowerPoint presentation are now available below.

Recording: Child Welfare Case Primer: Statutory Hearings and Current Issues

Additional Resources:

MCLE Information for Self-Reporting

Judges seeking MCLE and/or Family Violence credit hours may contact CCTraining@txcourts.gov after viewing the session recording.

On Thursday, January 20, 2022, the Children’s Commission’s Judicial Workgroup on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) presented a free, 1.5-hour webcast entitled “The Texas Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.” Panelists from the Office of the Texas Governor, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, Texas CASA, and Texas Juvenile Justice Department provided insight into their efforts to prevent, identify, and support children at risk and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. 

The recorded webcast, accompanying PowerPoint presentation, and handouts are available below. Attorneys and judges seeking MCLE and judges seeking Family Violence credit hours for this MCLE may contact CCTraining@txcourts.gov after viewing the session recording. 

This course has been approved by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for certification and recertification continuing legal education requirements for attorneys and paralegals in the following specialty fields: Child Welfare Law (1.5 hrs.), Criminal Law (1.5 hrs.), Family Law (1.5 hrs.), and Juvenile Law (1.5 hrs.).

Recording: The Texas Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Additional Resources:

The Judicial Trauma Institute was presented live on April 22-23, 2021, via webcast. The content was designed by Commission staff in partnership with the Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care (SCTIC) Training Workgroup and hosted by the Texas Center for the Judiciary. The goal of the conference was for judicial teams to gain information and discover practical tools and resources about how to become a trauma-informed and trauma-responsive court in CPS cases. Judicial teams were composed by judges who invited the following members from their jurisdictions: a court coordinator; a prosecutor; an attorney who takes appointments for parents and for children in CPS cases; a senior-level Caseworker or Supervisor at DFPS; and a CASA Executive Director or Program Director. Due to the virtual format, additional child welfare stakeholders and single registrant judges also attended.

Video replays and conference materials can be accessed on the Judicial Trauma Institute webpage.

This first of its kind virtual Texas Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Summit provides the judicial and legal communities, caseworkers, and other child welfare stakeholders with an in-depth training on the history of ICWA, critical legal components of ICWA, related case law updates, and the important impact of ICWA for Tribal communities. 

Presented live on January 22, 2021, the Summit was hosted by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, in partnership with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission. Video replays and conference materials can be accessed on the Texas ICWA Summit webpage.

On June 5, 2020, the Children's Commission hosted a one-hour webcast, “Benefits of Utilizing Technology in Child Welfare Cases,” designed for judges who preside over the CPS docket.

Moderated by Hon. Rob Hofmann, Judge of 452nd District Court and Senior Jurist in Residence for the Children’s Commission, the panel discussion includes five judges who share their experiences with virtual child welfare hearings and related silver linings. Topics include how to manage dockets and find an interpreter; greater child and parent engagement; the advantages of virtual mediation; an increase in attorney participation and preparation; and the benefits of increased frequency of family time (also known as visitation). Viewers will also learn about how all of these technological benefits can be used to advance permanency for children in care.

Panelists are Hon. Melissa DeGerolami, Associate Judge of the Child Protection Court of South Central Texas; Hon. Delia Gonzales, Associate Judge of the Child Protection and Permanency Court in Dallas County; Hon. Thomas Stuckey, Associate Judge of the Centex Child Protection Court South; Hon. Angela Graves-Harrington, District Judge of the 246th Family Court in Harris County; and Hon. Carlos Villalon Jr., Associate Judge for the Child Protection Court of the Rio Grande Valley West.

Recorded Webcast: Judicial Webcast on Benefits of Utilizing Technology in Child Welfare Cases.  Please note that MCLE is not offered for this webinar.

Conferences

Each year, the Children's Commission coordinates and hosts the Child Welfare Judges Conference (CWJC) through the Commission's grant with the Texas Center for the Judiciary (TCJ). TCJ specializes in judicial education and training opportunities for active, retired, and former Texas appellate, district and county court at law judges, as well as associate judges and court personnel.

The 15th Annual Child Welfare Judges Conference was held in partnership with TCJ in person on October 24-26, 2022. This year’s conference featured a pre-conference for Child Protection Court Judges and their court coordinators hosted by the Office of Court Administration on the opening day of the conference, followed by a full program. This year’s full conference included presentations on current and emerging topics, including speakers and topics from the Department, and including the voices of those with lived experience in the child welfare system. Additionally, Regional Breakouts were convened, so that judges, agency staff, and Community Based Care representatives had the opportunity to review and discuss regional and county-level data together. The curriculum was based in part on specific judicial requests for further education in the 2021 CWJC post-event survey and was planned with the assistance of the Children’s Commission’s CWJC Curriculum Committee.

The conference curriculum provided 13 Continuing Judicial Education and 13 Family Violence hours. Next year’s Child Welfare Judges Conference will be presented by TCJ and the Children’s Commission on October 23-25, 2023.

In addition to the annual Child Welfare Judges Conference, the Children's Commission sponsored a half-day CPS-related CJE track at the annual Family Justice Conference hosted by the Texas Center for the Judiciary on January 13-14, 2022, at the Sheraton Georgetown, with the half-day track on CPS-related judicial education scheduled on the afternoon of January 13, 2022. This year, the three presentations and speakers were: 

  • Trauma Informed Court (Hon. Rosie Alvarado, Judge of the 438th Civil District Court);
  • CPS for the Non-CPS Judge (Hon. Rob Hoffman, Judge of the 452nd District Court, Senior Jurist in Residence, Children’s Commission); and  
  • Child Welfare Legislative Update (Jamie Bernstein, Executive Director, Children’s Commission).

Child Protection Courts, also known as CPCs, were created to specialize in managing child abuse and neglect dockets. Like the child support court associate judges, these associate judges are appointed by their regional presiding judges and are OCA employees. CPC judges hear child welfare cases exclusively. The goal for CPC dockets is to help children and families achieve safety, permanency, and well-being in a timely manner. The Children’s Commission provides funding for the Child Protection Court Management System (CPCMS), as well as training and other support for CPC judges and court coordinators to conduct hearings and manage cases. There are currently 30 CPCs and these courts hear child welfare cases in 147 Texas counties.  

The next Child Protection Court Convening will be held in the summer of 2023.