Resources & Reports

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 are not endorsements by the Children’s Commission of the content of the websites, or of their policies, services or opinions of the organization or individual. The Children’s Commission reserves the right to decline requests for the addition of external resources.

2015-2016 Annual Report to the Supreme Court of Texas

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Attorney Practitioner Manual: 
The Texas Practice Guide for Child Protective Services Attorneys, DFPS

The Abuse and Neglect Case: A Practitioner's Guide 

Abuse Neglect Practitioners Guide

Bench Book

The online version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available by clicking on the link below.
If you are a Texas judge responsible for hearing CPS cases and interested in receiving a hard copy of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book, please contact the Children's Commission at
Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book

Bench Book 2015

The mobile version of the Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book is available via the LawBox app.

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

LawBox download and set up instructions

Budget Round Table: The 2012-2013 CPS Budget and Its Effect on Services to Families

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Child Fatalities - Protect Our Kids Commission:

The Protect Our Kids (POK) Commission is a 12-person commission chaired by Judge Robin Sage. Established by Senate Bill 66 during the 83rd Legislative Session, the POK Commission is charged with identifying promising practices and strategies to address and reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect, and recommending a comprehensive statewide strategy for reducing those fatalities. For more information, please link here.

Protect Our Kids Commission Report, December 1, 2015

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Child Safety: 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

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Child Welfare Certification: The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) offers a certification for attorneys who represent children, parents and agencies in child abuse, neglect and dependency cases that is modeled after physician board certification. (Click here to see more information on Child Welfare Law Certification).

Disproportionality: Bench Card to Reduce or Eliminate Disproportionality, NCJFCJ Courts Catalyzing Change (CCC)

CCC Bench Card

Family Visitation in Child Protective Services Cases: Family Visitation Round Table

A round table discussion between multidisciplinary stakeholders on family visitation in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases was held to help advise DFPS and its stakeholders on moving from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to family visitation to one that serves the individualized needs of children and families. The discussion focused on the importance of visits between parents and the children who have been removed from their care; the motivation and punishment aspects of visitation; the frequency, supervision, and location of visits; and the development of a plan that both embodies the elements that guide families and advocates toward an outcome that serves the child’s best interest and recognizes the parents’ rights to information, access, and possession.

Family Visitation Roundtable Report

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Compton-Sifuentes Family Visitation Presentation
Completed CPS Visitation Policy and Practice Survey
CPA Organizational Survey Summary
Stakeholder Survey Summary

Reference Documents and Forms
Important Information for Parents about Visitation
No Contact Visitation Plan
Parent/Supportive Adult Visitation Record and Observation Form
Stages of Supervision
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child and Family Visitation Best Practice Guide
Visitation Plan, Child Protective Services- Permanency and Conservatorship

Foster Care and Education

For more information about our work on this issue, please link here.

The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes For Children & Youth In Foster Care

Released in 2012, the Texas Blueprint includes over 125 recommendations to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in the Texas foster care system. The Texas Blueprint was the result of an 18-month collaborative effort that included over 100 stakeholders representing the child welfare, court, and education systems.

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Texas Blueprint Implementation Task Force Final Report

In 2012, the Supreme Court of Texas created a Task Force to prioritize and begin implementing the recommendations in the Texas Blueprint over a two year time period. The Task Force Final Report includes updates on the status of the Blueprint recommendations, collaborative accomplishments, and suggestions for continued implementation.

TXBP Final Report

Hearing Observation Project: Hearing Observation Project Report

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Homeless Youth:

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, risk of exploitation and trafficking, and substance abuse. Older youth in foster care are particularly vulnerable to homelessness because they may run away. Additionally, youth are often homeless within a very short time after aging out of foster care. Research has shown that about a third of foster care alumni experience at least one night of homelessness by age 26.

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.

Human Trafficking: 

The Children’s Commission participates on the Statewide Human Trafficking (HT) Prevention Task Force and works with the child welfare community on child welfare related issues such as identification, services, training, data collection, and collaboration.

2015 Protected Innocence Challenge, Full Report

2015 Protected Innocence Challenge Texas Report Card

PIC Texas Report Card

Administration for Children & Families Office on Trafficking of Persons

Federal Bureau of Investigation Innocence Lost National Initiative 

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 VictimizationPresentation by Andrea Sparks

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

National Human Trafficking Resource Center

National Judicial Institute on Domestic Child Sex Trafficking - Online Resources

Office of Texas Attorney General

Polaris Project

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): Assessment of ICPC in Texas, 2008 Report


Judicial Workload in Texas: 

Measuring Current Judicial Workload in Texas, 2007, The National Center for State Courts

Weighted Caseload Study: Texas Child Protective Services Workload Assessment Final Report

Legal Representation

The Legal Representation Workgroup exists to explore various aspects of legal representation in Texas including due process, financial impact on the state and counties, policy and legislation that supports the representation system, outreach, education, training, standards of representation, timely and meaningful court hearings, and high quality legal advocacy.

Legal Representation Study: Assessment of Appointed Representation in Texas Child-Protection Proceedings

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Judicial Guide to Advocating for and Ensuring Adequate Funding for Legal Representation in Child Protective Services Cases

Presentation: Introduction to Legal Representation in CPS Cases

Resource Paper Regarding State Appropriation for Legal Representation for Children in Child Protective Services Cases


The Children’s Commission serves as the critical connection between Child Protective Services and the judiciary. No child enters or leaves foster care without a court order. For the 30,000 children in the care of the state, a judge will:

  • decide where the child will live, with whom, and for how long;
  • decide whether the child will be allowed to see siblings and other family members, how often, and under what circumstances;
  • decide whether a child's relationship with his or her parents will be terminated forever.

The Bench Book will be updated following the close of the 85th session. 

Summary provided to the Texas Senate, 85th Legislative Session

84th Session Legislative Update


Cost Analysis of Mediation in Travis County Family Court

Child Protection Mediation in Texas: Past, Present, and Future - A Report by The University of Texas School of Law Mediation Clinic, March 2010

Presentation Report Summary: Child Protection Mediation in Texas: Past, Present, and Future. The University of Texas School of Law Mediation Clinic, April 2010

Using Mediation Effectively in Child Protection Cases, Presentation at CWJC by Cynthia Bryant and Cynthia Osborne, University of Texas

Notice and Engagement

Report: Notice and Engagement Round Table

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Hearing Notification Registration

Setting Up and Managing Notifications

Parental Child Safety Placements or PCSP

When DFPS initiates an investigation of a parent and makes a determination that the child may not be safe with the parent, the Department may allow the parent to place the child temporarily with a family member, a Parental Child Safety Placement, or PCSP, to help ensure the child’s safety while the agency completes the investigation.

The Children’s Commission convened over 60 child welfare partners for a Round Table to discuss recent improvements to the PCSP process, challenges the Department and others have yet to address, and what additional practice, policy or legislative changes might be in order to more specifically address the appropriate use of PCSPs, the options available to DFPS when it must close its case and exit the PCSP arrangement, and the services and supports available to families during and after a PCSP.

Parental Child Safety Placements Round Table Report
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Parental Child Safety Placements Presentation by Judge Scott McCown
Reducing Risk in Parental Child Safety Placements, Department of Family and Protective Safety

Parent Resource Guide: Handbook designed to help parents understand the Texas Child welfare system, their role and responsibilities when involved in a Child Protective Services case, and the roles and responsibilities of others. 

Parent Resource Guide PDF (For print)

English   Spanish

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A searchable and mobile-friendly version is also available on LawBox and can be accessed below: 

English        Spanish       

PRG Lawbox

Permanency Projects: 

2010 Appleseed Study: Improving the Lives of Children in Long-Term Foster Care: The Role of Texas' Courts & Legal System

2012 Appleseed Study: Texas Children in Long-Term Foster Care: Outcomes, Court Hearing Practices, and Court Costs

Report on the Harris County Child-Protection Collaborative Meeting

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

Psychotropic Medications: Psychotropic Medication and Texas Foster Care: Supreme Court Children's Commission Psychotropic Medication Round Table

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Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report, 2010

Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report (Update), 2013 

Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters Report (Update), 2016

Texas HHSC "Use of Psychotropic Medications for Children in Texas Foster Care" Outcomes Report, Fiscal Years 2002-2014

HB915 Implementation Workgroup: June 11, 2013; July 23, 2013; August 27, 2013

Texas DFPS Webpage: Psychotropic Medications- A Guide to Medical Services at CPS

Residential Treatment Center Manual: 

Texas CASA Residential Treatment Center Manual

TX CASA Residential Treatment Center Manual

Texas DFPS Transformation:

Sunset Advisory Commission Staff Report with Commission Decisions on DFPS

DFPS Report to the Sunset Advisory Commission: Child Protective Services Transformation 

DFPS CPS Transformation Report

Comments in response to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Child Protective Services Transformation Report and Amendments to Texas Family Code Chapter 263

Resource Paper on Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Transformation Report to Sunset Advisory Commission

Trauma-Informed Care

Understanding Trauma-Informed Care in the Texas Child Welfare System: Data and Recommendations from the Field

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 Litem and CASA volunteers.The presentation includes strategies for advocating for children in courtrooms, schools, and placements to meet each child’s unique needs. 

One-hour of MCLE credit is available for this on-demand presentation which can be accessed below:

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PowerPoint Presentation: Trauma-Informed Advocacy

To claim MCLE credit, please email for more information. 

Tribal State Collaborative: Tribal/State Collaborative Round Table Report 2014

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Youth Resources

  • Aging Out: A Guide For Those "Aging Out" of Foster Care In Texas, Fifth Ed.

Aging Out FY 4Th Ed Online   PDF Download

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   Physical Address
    Children’s Commission
Supreme Court Building
201 W. 14th Street, Room 104
Austin, TX 78701
   Mailing Address
    Children’s Commission
P.O. Box 12248
Austin, TX 78711
(512) 463-5384
(512) 463-8895