AUSTIN — Senator Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, Chairman of the Senate Committee on State Affairs, and Representative James B. Frank, R-Wichita Falls, Chairman of the House Committee on Human Services, today filed joint legislation aimed at reducing the cycle of trauma that many children experience in foster care by clarifying standards in the Family Code related to the removal of children from their families.
“It is undeniable that children are traumatized whenever they are removed from their homes. There are, of course, occasions where removal is necessary because of an imminent threat to the health and safety of those children,” Sen. Hughes and Rep. Frank said. “However, it is equally true that too many Texas children are removed from their homes unnecessarily and the rights of these children and their families are trampled on. This harm stays with these families forever. Our legislation will clarify standards for DFPS caseworkers, protect due-process for parents, and ensure families here in Texas remain united when possible.”
Specifically, the bill seeks to protect children and families from serious actions by the Department of Family and Protective Services—including removal of children from their families and termination of parental rights—for normal, every-day activities by amending the state definition of “neglect” in Texas Family Code.
It also aims to increase minimum due-process rights for parents in child welfare cases before a family can be forced into court-ordered services and by ensuring fair adjudication of rights for non-offending parents.
Finally, the legislation clarifies procedures in child protection cases including that such cases are subject to certain pleading requirements under the Rules of Civil Procedure, and it establishes a deadline for the rendition of a final order in parental termination cases.
“Clear, uniform legal protections are absolutely essential for children and families. They are also a huge benefit to the men and women who work at DFPS,” Hughes and Frank continued. “The Senate State Affairs Committee and House Human Services Committee have listened to the heart-wrenching testimony of children unnecessarily removed because rules and laws were not consistent across the state. SB 190 and HB 567 will reduce these tragic mistakes and protect Texas children.”