Texas Child Welfare Law Bench Book and Bench Cards
The Children's Commission releases and maintains a Texas Child Welfare Law Bench Book (Bench Book) which outlines the state and federal statutory requirements, as well as topical sections, for judges handling child welfare cases. The Bench Cards provide high-level legal and topical information through at-a-glance, easy-to-use checklists that outline relevant laws at the various stages of a child welfare case as well as by topic (e.g., education).
While the Bench Book was originally designed for and is primarily used by judges, many attorneys and other child welfare stakeholders may 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 no cost using the links below for digital access and download.
If you are a Texas judge responsible for handling child welfare cases and interested in receiving a printed copy of the Texas Child Welfare Law Bench Book, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, limited printed copies may be available.
October 2022 Texas Child Welfare Law Bench Book
The October 2022 Bench Book includes updates throughout and new chapters on Required Participation and Dual Status. Based on feedback regarding usability, the 2022 edition is organized into the following sections: Statutory, Legal Essentials, Federal, Health, Well-being, Safety, System Issues, and Family Connections. There is also a new Bench Card on the Court Ordered Services Hearing.
The online versions of the October 2022 Bench Book and Bench Cards are available at the links below in PDF for print and also as an interactive resource through LawBox. On mobile devices, downloading the LawBox App is recommended and instructions are included below.
The October 2022 Texas Child Welfare Law Bench Book is available in the following formats:
- 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 relevant topical matters for quick reference. Many Bench Cards are available in two formats: as one-page checklists without citations (short) which are intended for easy use at hearings and as extended versions with Texas Family Code citations (long).
Statutory / Hearing Bench Cards:
- At a Glance short
- Court Ordered Services Hearing short / long
- Adversary Hearing short / long
- Status Hearing short / long
- Permanency Hearing Before Final Order short / long
- Final Hearing short / long
- Termination Grounds long
- Permanency Hearing After Final Order short / long
- De Novo Hearing long
Topical Bench Cards:
- Foster Care and Education short / long
- Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) short / long
- Medical and Mental Health Care for Foster Youth short / long
- Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children short / long
- Remote Hearings short
- DFPS’ Permanency Care Assistance: Key Issues for Judges
- 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)