Reports and Resources
Materials published on the Children’s Commission website are helpful reports and resources for judges and attorneys handling child protective services cases and are intended for reference use only. They are not legal advice, and may not represent the official opinion of the Supreme Court Children’s Commission. The inclusion of external links
The online version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available at the link below and by
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 email@example.com.
The mobile version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available via the LawBox app.
- Open the LawBox app
- Select "The Texas Children's Commission"
- Enter "children" for both username and password
In 2015, the Children's Commission introduced Bench Cards, which are abbreviated reference cards on specific hearing types and subject matter for quick reference. An extended long version of the Bench Cards complete with Family Code citations is also available below and reflect changes from the 85th Legislative Session.
Short Checklists (Combined)
Disproportionality: Bench Card to Reduce or Eliminate Disproportionality, NCJFCJ Courts Catalyzing Change (CCC)
Long Checklists (with citations)
Long Checklists (Combined)
Texas' two highest courts, the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, spearheaded the Beyond the Bench: Law, Justice, and Communities Summit on December 14,
The Beyond the Bench Toolkit was created to offer assistance in planning similar convenings and to inspire continued conversation about this important issue. The Toolkit includes video and details from the event which can be accessed here.
*Note: Please check back for an update on the CFSR.
The federal CFSR for Texas is scheduled for 2016. Part of the process includes a statewide assessment conducted by staff of the child welfare agency, representatives selected by DFPS who are also involved in the development of the Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP) and other child welfare stakeholders. Information gathered as part of the statewide assessment is used by the federal government to determine whether the state is in substantial conformity with the seven outcomes and seven systemic factors used to measure conformity with title IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.
The Children’s Commission facilitated three stakeholder meetings on November 14, 2014, December 19, 2014, and January 23, 2015. Each meeting was attended by approximately 50 stakeholders representing the judiciary, child placing agencies, child advocacy groups, DFPS management, licensing, contracts, and administration, as well as personnel from the Administration of Children and Families. CFSR Stakeholder Group 1 - Case Review System; CFSR Stakeholder Group 2 - the Service Array and Agency Response to Community; and CFSR Stakeholder Group 3 – the Foster/Adoption Licensing,
Links to documents from each meeting are found below:
The Protect Our Kids (POK) Commission, chaired by Judge Robin Sage, was established by Senate Bill 66 during the 83rd Legislative Session to develop recommendations and identify resources necessary to reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect. The POK Commission included judges, doctors, attorneys and other experts in child welfare. They met seven times over a year, divided into four workgroups, and submitted their report in December 2015.
The Protect Our Kids Commission Charge from the 83rd Legislature, SB66
The commission shall:
- identify promising practices and evidence-based strategies to address and reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect;
- develop recommendations and identify resources necessary to reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect for implementation by state and local agencies and private sector and nonprofit organizations, including recommendations to implement a comprehensive statewide strategy for reducing those fatalities; and
- develop guidelines for the types of information that should be tracked to improve interventions to prevent fatalities from child abuse and neglect.
Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys Published by the American Bar Association and ACTION for Child Protection, Inc. – Developed by the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services and the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
The Children's Commission serves as an umbrella organization to promote collaboration between the judiciary, executive branch, and legislature regarding children and families involved in Texas’ foster care system. The Commission does not provide legal representation, render legal advice, or discuss specific or ongoing cases.
All adults are required by law to report if they suspect a child has been or is being abused or neglected. To report suspicions of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children, adults with disabilities, or people who are elderly (65 years or older):
Texas Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-5400, Website
To report judicial misconduct:
State Commission on Judicial Conduct
To report attorney misconduct, contact a Chief Disciplinary Counsel (CDC) office nearest you:
- Austin: (512) 427-1350, or (877) 953-5535 fax: (512) 427-4167;
- Dallas: (972) 383-2900 fax: (972) 383-2935;
- Houston: 713-758-8200 fax: (713) 758-8292;
- San Antonio: (210) 208-6600; fax: (210) 208-6625
Texas Lawyer Referral Service can assist with finding a lawyer or other resource that matches legal and financial needs: 800-252-9690, Monday-Friday, CST, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm; Website
To report a CPS worker: call Commissioner Henry “Hank” Whitman, Jr. / Office of Consumer Affairs 1-800-720-7777, Fax 512-339-5892.
Office of the Inspector General: The OIG is charged with integrity and accountability in the Health and Human Services Commission, which is the parent agency to DFPS. Any state employee or public citizen may report waste, abuse or fraud through the online reporting form or by calling toll-free, 800-436-6184.
To submit a complaint to the Office of Consumer Affairs about the actions of DFPS programs such as Child Protective Services, Child Care Licensing, and Statewide Intake: 1-877-720-7777; Website
For children and youth in foster care, complaints can be submitted to the Foster Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is available to assist children and youth who report maltreatment in foster care and has the authority to conduct an investigation into individual complaints. Foster youth may call the Ombudsman Monday - Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at 1-844-286-0769. Letters can be mailed to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Foster Care Ombudsman, MC H-700, P O Box 13247, Austin, Texas 78711-3247; Ombudsman Website
The Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Texas House Human Services Committee conduct hearings on legislation that affects the DFPS and CPS. Public testimony regarding the agency can be provided orally or in writing during these hearings. Contact the committee to inquire further:
Senate Health and Human Services Committee Clerk: (512) 463-0360
House Human Services Committee Clerk: (512) 463-0786.
The Children's Commission routinely shares updates with judges and attorneys which include announcements about new changes at DFPS. Please see the Jurist in Residence Letter, section on DFPS for more information including how to join this email list.
For more information on our work on issues on disproportionality, please visit the Basic Projects page, section Judicial Workgroup Addressing Disproportionality.
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on Disproportionality
Bench Card to Reduce or Eliminate Disproportionality, NCJFCJ Courts Catalyzing Change (CCC)
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on Family Visitation
- Texas Higher Education Information and Resource Guide for Foster Care Liaisons, June 2017
- Transition Planning Guide for Students in Foster Care Receiving Special Education Services, April 2017
- Information Sharing Between Child Welfare and Schools: Maintaining Privacy and Promoting Educational Success, April 2017
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: StopBullying.gov
- Texas Education Agency: Coordinated School Health
- National Foster Parent Association: Foster Parent Educational Advocacy Training
- Parent Companion Guide for Parents and Caregivers of Children with Disabilities under the Age of Five
- DOE and HHS Joint Letter: Fostering Connections and Cross-System Collaboration
- ABA Child Law Practice: The Texas Blueprint - A Model for Improving School Experiences for Children in Foster Care
- Children's Commission Foster Care & Education Local Collaboration Workgroup:
- Administration of Children and Families: Confidentiality Toolkit
- U.S. Department of Education:
- Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS):
- Developmental Disability Specialists (DD Specialists)
- Regional Education Specialist Contact Information
- DFPS Regional Offices
- Education Service Center: Foster Care Champions
- Higher Education Foster Care Liaisons
- School District Foster Care Liaisons
- Texas Courts Online
- Office of Court Administration
- Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth
- Supreme Court of Texas
- Timeline of Required Hearings in a CPS Legal Case
- Judicial Guide to Implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Education Stability Provisions)
- Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Education Chapter
- Foster Youth Education Judicial Checklist
- Legal Center for Foster Care & Education: How Can Courtroom Resources Support Judges to Address the Education Needs of Children in Care? Q and A
- Legal Center for Foster Care & Education: Credit Transfer and School Completion Q and A
- Data Quality Campaign - Roadmap for Foster Care and K-12 Data Linkages: Key Focus Areas to Ensure Quality Implementation
- Information on Children in Foster Care Attending Texas Public Schools 2012-2013
- Infographic: Texas commits to
transform educationoutcomes of students in foster care: Findings from the Texas Blueprint Implementation Data Workgroup
- National Working Group on Foster Care & Education: Educational Outcomes for Children in Foster Care National Fact Sheet
- Legal Center for Foster Care & Education: Solving the Data Puzzle
- U.S. Department of Education: School Climate and Discipline
- Center for Public Policy Priorities: School Discipline and Students in Foster Care: A Texas Case Study
- Legal Center for Foster Care and Education: School Discipline and Students in Foster Care Q and A
Education Decision Maker
Foster Care and Education
- U.S. Department of Education: Students in Foster Care
- Texas Association of School Boards: Education Issues for Students in Foster Care
- Foster Care and Student Success Resource Guide
- Texas Education Agency: To the Administrator Addressed (TAA) Communications Regarding Students in Foster Care
- DFPS: Education web page
- Education Newsletter, Back to School: What you should know about Student Enrollment, Caregiver Resources, and 2017 Legislative Updates, August 2017
- Improving Education Outcomes, August 2017
- Education Newsletter Back to School, August 2016
- Education Newsletter on High School Graduation, Quick-Start Careers, and E-Reading, March 2016
- Texas Education Agency: Graduation Toolkit
Please see the Foster Care and Education Law section found below.
- American Bar Association (ABA) Legal Center on Foster Children & Education
- Casey Family Programs
- Education Reach for Texans
- Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA)
- Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
- Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
- Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE)
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
- Texas Education Agency Foster Care and Student Success Page (TEA)
- Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)
- Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO)
- Map of Child Protective Services Regions
- Map of Texas Education Agency Regions
- School District Locator
- DFPS: DFPS Higher Education Programs and Resources Chart
- National Foster Care Coalition: Chafee Independence, Educational and Training Program FAQ
- NGA Center for Best Practices: The Transition to Adulthood: How States Can Support Older Youth in Foster Care
- Casey Family Programs:
- National Post-Secondary Support Map
- Supporting Success: Improving Higher Education Outcomes for Foster Children (2008)
- Supporting Success 2008, Appendix B
- Supporting Success 2010
- Legal Center for Foster Care & Education:
Response to Intervention
- Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk: Building Capacity for Response to Intervention
- Law, Policy, and Practice Related to School Readiness
- Ensuring Health Development of Infants in Foster Care: A Guide for Judges, Advocates, and Child Welfare Professionals
- Advocating for Very Young Children in Dependency Proceedings: Hallmarks of Effective, Ethical Representation
- Administration of Children and Families, Children's Bureau and Office of Head Start: Joint Memorandum
- Office of Head Start: Steps to School Readiness
- Legal Center for Foster Care & Education: Schools as Mandatory Partners in Ensuring Educational Stability Q and A
- ABA Child Law Practice: Special Education Decisions for Children in Foster Care: Everyone Has a Role
- IDEA Building the Legacy
- Texas Education Agency: Special Education Rules and Regulations
- Parent Coordination Network: How to Serve as a Surrogate Parent to a Child With a Disability
- National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys: Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities
- Legal Center for Foster Care & Education, Special Education Series:
- Texas CASA: Educational Advocacy Toolkit
- Office of Court Administration: Publications & Training on Truancy Reform
Working with Youth
- Texas Foster Youth Justice Project: Talking to Youth About School
Materials published on the Children’s Commission website are intended for reference use only. They are not legal advice, and may not represent the official opinion of the Supreme Court Children’s Commission. The inclusion of external links
Federal Foster Care and Education Laws
Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
- U.S. Administration of Children and Families: Education
Provisions ofFostering Connections and Related Program Instructions
- Legal Center for Foster Care & Education: Fostering Connections Implementation Checklists (education provisions)
- Fostering Connections Q & A
- Meeting The Education Requirements of Fostering Connections: Learning from the Field
- U.S. DOE and HHS Joint Fostering Connections Letter (2011)
- U.S. DOE and HHS Joint Fostering Connections Letter (2014)
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
- Full text of ESSA (Public Law No: 114-95)
- Administration for Children & Families: Letter to Child Welfare Leaders About Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care
- The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education: Highlights of Joint Federal Guidance to Ensure School Success for Students in Foster Care under the ESSA
- Statutory Language and Summary: Homelessness and Foster Care in ESSA, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
- U.S. Department of Education: ESSA resources
- U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services: Joint Guidance on the Foster Care Provisions of ESSA
- U.S Departments of Education and Health and Human Services: Dear Colleague Letter Re: Foster Care Guidance
- U.S Departments of Education and Health and Human Services: Dear Colleague Letter Re: Foster Care Timelines
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
- Child Welfare Agencies and FERPA
- Information Sharing and Child Welfare and Education: December 2011 FERPA Regulations
- Collecting Data to Improve Educational Outcomes of Children in Out-of-Home Care
- Information Sharing to Improve Educational
Outcomes ofChildren in Out-of-Home Care
- Mythbusting: Breaking Down Confidentiality and Decision-Making Barriers to Meet the Educational Needs of Children in Foster Care
Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA)
- Public Law 112-278
- Guidance on Uninterrupted Scholars Act amendments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act from the Department of Education May 2014
- Uninterrupted Scholars Q & A
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Overlap between Fostering Connections and IDEA
- Mobility Issues and Special Education for Children in Out-of-Home Care
- Surrogate Parent Programs
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Education Act (Note: these provisions will change in 2016 as a result of ESSA)
- How Fostering Connections and McKinney-Vento Can Support School Success for All Children in Out-of-Home Care
- McKinney-Vento Applicability to Foster Youth
Many thanks to the ABA Legal Center for Foster Care and Education for sharing their federal law and policy resources!
State Foster Care and Education Laws
- Legal Issues related to Educational Needs of Children in Foster Care
- State Legislation requiring Foster Care Liaisons within School Districts: Texas Education Code §33.904 as amended by HB 826 (82nd Leg. Session)
- Duties to address educational needs and goals, school stability, Education Decision Maker, and excused absences: HB 2619 (83rd Leg. Session)
- District Foster Care Liaison: Texas Education Code §33.904 as amended by SB 832 (83rd Leg. Session)
- PEIMS Code for children in foster care: SB 833 (83rd Leg. Session)
- Credit and Graduation: SB 1404 (83rd Leg. Session)
- Liaisons at TEA and institutions of higher education and data exchange between DFPS and THECB: HB 3748 (84th Leg.)
- 83rd Session Legislative Update
- 84th Session Legislative Update
Homeless Youth Handbook (Online)
To request a hard copy of the Homeless Youth Handbook
Texas Homeless Education Office
In 2014, 113,063 students were identified as homeless by Texas public schools. Homelessness creates serious adverse conditions for children and youth, including medical and mental health, lack of school stability, physical safety, food insecurity,
Texas Appleseed, in partnership with Weatherford International and Baker & McKenzie LLP, recently released the Homeless Youth Handbook. This handbook provides homeless youth with Texas-specific information about their rights, responsibilities, and available resources related to every major aspect of their lives, including education, employment, health, housing, parenting, and other major topics.
For more information about our work on issues in human trafficking, please visit the Basic Projects page, section on Human Trafficking.
Resource Letter for Judges and Attorneys Handling Child Protective Services Cases: The Texas Response to Human Trafficking
Presentation: Human Trafficking and Child Welfare by Justice Eva Guzman, State Bar of Texas Advanced Family Law Conference, August 2015
Presentation: Human Trafficking & How Texas Treats Victims of Sexual Exploitation by Ann Johnson, Dr. Olivia McGill, and the Hon. Angela Ellis, Child Welfare Judges Conference 2015
Presentation: Spotlight on Sexual Exploitation: Why Kids in Care are at Risk, How NCMEC can help Protect and Recover Them, and How We Can All Prevent Victimization, Presentation by Andrea Sparks
"Be the One" digital training tool
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on Human Trafficking
Assessment of the Interstate Compact on the Placement (ICPC) of Children, The Texas Court Improvement Program (CIP) 2008 Report
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on ICPC
For more information on our work on ICWA, please visit the Basic Projects page, section Tribal / State Workgroup.
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on ICWA
Late FY2015, the Children’s Commission approved a grant to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to design and execute a judicial caseload study to develop a tool to collect data on court‐related and child welfare statistics, the types of hearings judges oversee, case administration duties such as docketing, data findings from CPCMS, travel as it relates to CPC judges, and other administrative tasks related to case management.
The result, the Judicial Workload Study, reports these findings and includes a glossary to define each hearing and case event, and created a category type for each hearing type and case event.
Measuring Current Judicial Workload in Texas, 2007, The National Center for State Courts
For more information on our work on legal representation, please visit the Basic Projects page, section Legal Representation.
Child Welfare Law Certification Information:
Judicial Guide and Resource:
Presentation: Introduction to Legal Representation in CPS Cases (Available for download)
Standards of Practice:
American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Attorneys Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases
National Association of Counsel for
American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Attorneys Representing Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases
American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Child Welfare Agencies
Resource Paper Regarding State Appropriation for Legal Representation for Children in Child Protective Services Cases
House Bill 7 Task Force:
85th Legislative Session
Summary provided to the Texas Senate, 85th Legislative Session
State Bar of Texas Online Classroom Course: Child Protection Legislative Update - 85th Legislative Session (Recorded July 2017)
85th Legislative Session July 2017 Webcast / Replay PowerPoint Notes
84th Legislative Session
For more information on our work on mediation in child protection cases, please visit the Basic Projects page, section Mediation in Child Protection Cases.
Mediation Judicial Survey Results, November 2016, Presentation at Child Welfare Judicial Conference by Cynthia Osborne, University of Texas
Using Mediation Effectively in Child Protection Cases, June 2014 Presentation at CWJC by Cynthia Bryant and Cynthia Osborne, University of Texas
For more information on our work on notice and engagement, please visit the Data & Technology Projects page, section Notice
For a list of counties with these specialty courts, please see CPS Specialty Courts.
To receive hearing notifications, first, set up an account by linking here: Hearing Notification Registration
Next, follow the user guide to set up notifications: Instructions for Setting Up and Managing Hearing Notifications
Updated January 2018
For more information on our work on Parental Child Safety Placements including the PCSP Roundtable, please visit the Basic Projects page, section Parental Child Safety Placements.
Parental Child Safety Placements Round Table Report, December 2015
For more information on our work including current projects, please visit the Basic Projects page, section Parent Resource Group.
The Parent Resource Group supports efforts to assist parents in understanding the Texas Child Welfare system, their role and responsibilities when involved in a Child Protective Services case, and the roles and responsibilities of others. As a result, the Parent Resource Guide and Family Hotline
The Parent Resource Guide
The Parent Resource Guide is a handbook designed to help parents understand the Texas child welfare system, their role
The Parent Resource Guide is accessible in print and online in English and Spanish. Additionally, the guide is available for mobile users via the LawBox app.
For print (PDF):
A searchable and mobile-friendly version is also available on LawBox and can be accessed below:
The Family Helpline
On January 31, 2017, the Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) launched The Family Helpline to assist parents with CPS legal issues. The Family Helpline is staffed by experienced attorneys who refer to pertinent portions of the Children’s Commission’s Parent Resource Guide while offering callers live support in a one-on-one exchange. TLSC employs attorneys with CPS case experience who can offer callers legal information and education, but not offer legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship with the caller.
The CPS process is explained to callers in concrete, easy to understand, and compassionate language. Parents will be given referrals to local resources that benefit children, families, and the community at large.
The Family Helpline is available Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can be reached at (844) 888-6565.
For more information on the Family Helpline, visit TexasLawHelp.org
Discussion of barriers to permanency in Harris County child-protection cases: Children in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Round Table on Permanency, Executive Summary
Judges' Strategies for Getting Kids to Permanency, PowerPoint Presentation, CWJC 2015
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on:
Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report, 2010
Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report (Update), 2013
Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report (Update), 2016
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on:
CAN as a resource
Texas CASA Website
Video: Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Children and Youth in Foster Care
Following the Trauma-Informed Care survey and report issued last year by Texas CASA, the Children’s Commission, in partnership with Texas CASA and the Shield Ayers Foundation, created a one-hour training to help introduce trauma-informed care to Attorneys ad Litem, Guardians ad
This training was recorded in front of a live audience at the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse on September 27, 2016, and was presented by Elizabeth Watkins, JD, Regional Attorney for the Department of Family and Protective Services.
PowerPoint Presentation: Trauma-Informed Advocacy
Note: One hour of MCLE credit is available for this on-demand presentation which can be viewed below. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For additional opportunities for MCLE credit, please visit the CLE page.
Trauma-Informed Care Final Report, The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas
Following the Trauma-Informed Care report issued by Texas CASA, the Children’s Commission, in partnership with Texas CASA and the Shield Ayers Foundation, created a one-hour training to help introduce trauma-informed care to Attorneys ad Litem, Guardians ad Litem
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on:
Child Adolescent Needs and Strengths Assessment (CANS) and Family Strengths and Needs Assessment (FSNA):
The Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) oversees and manages a collaborative video conferencing project between the courts presiding over child abuse and neglect cases, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)/Child Protection Services (CPS), and residential placement facilities contracted by DFPS providing services to the children involved in these cases.
*Updated as of January 2018
Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Foster Care Ombudsman
For children and youth in foster care, complaints can be submitted to the Foster Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is available to assist children and youth who report maltreatment in foster care and has the authority to conduct an investigation into individual complaints. Foster youth may contact the Ombudsman at any of the following:
By phone: 1-844-286-0769
Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 5:00 pm at
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Foster Care Ombudsman, MC H-700
P O Box 13247
Austin, Texas 78711-3247.
Guides and Handbooks:
Aging Out: A Guide For Those "Aging Out" of Foster Care In Texas, Fifth Ed.
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, Chapter on Extending Foster Care for Transitioning Youth
Websites for Foster Youth:
Texas Youth Connection, Department of Family Protective Services Website