Get Involved

Be a part of the solution!

VolunteerTake the first step to becoming a CASA advocate!

NominateIf you know someone who has what it takes to be a CASA advocate, let them know!

DonateSupport Texas CASA & invest in the future of Texas' children!

Click here to view all CASA programs in Texas. For a CASA program outside of Texas, please visit the National CASA website.

The regular 85th Texas Legislative Session ended May 29, 2017. During the session, lawmakers worked hard to improve the state’s child welfare system, adopting several bills focused on young Texans in foster care. While there is still more work to be done to ensure kids in the state’s care receive the support and services they need to thrive, a solid foundation has been set for improved outcomes for children and youth. We hope to build on these successes moving forward.

Session Recap

The following is a set of resources for your reference that will help expand your knowledge and understanding of the session’s legislative outcomes:

Legislative Outcomes

Below you will find information regarding bills that we championed throughout the legislative session, bills that we considered a high priority for the child protection system, and other bills we supported. Use the links below to skip to sections of the bill tracker or continue scrolling to see all of the bills listed.

Bills Championed by Texas CASA

SB 78 | Relating to the disposition of certain state surplus or salvage data processing equipment. 

Author: Sen. Nelson | Bill Summary 
Sponsor: Rep. Price
Companion: HB 1883 (Identical)

Names Texas CASA as a recipient for surplus or salvage computers from the state for use in foster homes or foster group homes.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

HB 249 | Relating to the definitions of abuse and neglect of a child applicable to investigations of abuse and neglect in certain facilities.

Author: Rep. Hernandez | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Van Taylor

Separates the definitions of abuse and neglect in the Family Code from exploitation.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

HB 1556 | Relating to the appointment of foster parents and other qualified persons to serve as educational decision-makers for certain children in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Author: Rep. Mary González | Bill Summary 
Sponsor: Sen. Sen. Menéndez
Companion: SB 1881 (Identical)

Authorizes a foster parent, or surrogate parent, the right to make decisions regarding their foster child’s education, unless prohibited from doing so by the court. Lists required duties and training for all school district appointed surrogate parents and foster parents for children receiving special education services.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

Back to Top

High Priority Bills for Texas CASA

SB 11 | Relating to the administration of services provided by the Department of Family and Protective Services, including foster care, child protective, and prevention and early intervention services. 

Author: Sen. Schwertner | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Frank
Companion: HB 914 (Identical)

Investigation consolidation to CPS, and the privatization of case management services from CPS to a third-party contract entity.

Status: Effective according to its terms 5/31/17

SB 203 | Relating to removing the deadline for the Department of Family and Protective Services to enter into permanency care assistance agreements.

Author: Sen. West | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Sarah Davis
Companion: HB 511 (Identical)

Removes the deadline (Sunset Provision) for DFPS to enter into permanency care assistance agreements.

Status: Effective 5/28/17

SB 1220 | Relating to ensuring continuity of education and access to higher education, career information, and skills certification for foster care youth and former foster care youth.

Author: Sen. Miles | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Vo

This bill requires continuity of educational programs for homeless students or students in substitute care who transfer schools. Also proposes that DFPS collaborate with state and community resources to create a program that helps foster youth obtain high school diplomas, industry/trade certifications, career counseling, and information regarding tuition and fee waivers available to these students.

Status: Effective 6/1/17

SB 1758 | Relating to requirements for the court in permanency hearings for children in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services who are receiving transitional living services.

Author: Sen. Zaffirini | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Turner
Companion: HB 4168 (Identical)

Proposes DFPS shall work with outside stakeholders to develop a plan to standardize and improve the curriculum for the Preparation for Adult Living Program and ensure that youth 14 years of age or older enrolled in the program receive relevant and age-appropriate information and training.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

Back to Top

Bills Supported by Texas CASA

SB 74 | Relating to the provision of certain behavioral health services to children, adolescents, and their families under a contract with a managed care organization. 

Author: Sen. Nelson | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Price
Companion: HB 1758 (Identical)

Targeted case management and psychiatric rehabilitative services for children or adolescents (and their families) who are at risk of juvenile justice involvement, expulsion from school, displacement from the home, hospitalization, residential treatment, or serious injury to self, others, or animals.

Status: Effective 6/9/17

SB 495 | Relating to certain procedural measures in a suit affecting a parent-child relationship to protect a child against child neglect or physical or sexual abuse.

Author: Sen. Uresti | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Senfronia Thompson  
Companion: HB 1080 (Identical)

Places limits on who can live or have unsupervised visitation with a child monitored or in the care of DFPS, based on a person’s history of child abuse or neglect.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

SB 948 | Relating to certain information provided to prospective adoptive parents by the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Author: Sen. Kolkhorst | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Morrison

Proposes DFPS tell each person seeking to adopt a child from the Department whether or not the child has a sibling that has the right to file a suit for access to or visitation with the child.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

SB 1806 | Relating to requiring the use of multidisciplinary teams appointed by children’s advocacy centers in certain child abuse investigations.

Author: Sen. Huffman | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Rep. Miller

Proposes the use of a multidisciplinary team in all investigations of alleged child sexual abuse or other cases in the jurisdiction of children’s advocacy centers. This includes investigations of child fatalities where there are surviving children in the household or facility. The bill states that forensic interviews should be required unless not appropriate based on the child’s age or development.

Status: Effective 6/15/17

HB 4 | Relating to monetary assistance provided by the Department of Family and Protective Services to certain relatives or designated caregivers; creating a criminal offense; creating a civil penalty.

Author: Rep. Burkett | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Schwertner

Proposes monetary assistance brackets and disbursement for kinship parent caregivers. Makes it a felony for those who deceive the department to enter into a caregiver assistance agreement, which also includes a $1,000 civil penalty.

Status: Effective according to its terms

HB 834 | Relating to prohibiting certain actions regarding the rehoming of an adopted child; creating a criminal offense. 

Author: Rep. Parker | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Birdwell

Makes unauthorized re-homing a 3rd-degree felony. “Rehoming” is defined as the placement of an adopted child in the permanent physical custody of a person who is not the child’s relative without prior court approval or the termination of the parent-child relationship.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

HB 928 | Relating to assisting certain children who are in foster care or who have been adopted in the process of applying to institutions of higher education.

Author: Rep. White | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Uresti

Certain DFPS employees would be designated to assist foster children in the college admission process by providing specific information regarding tuition and fee waivers, helping school superintendents identify foster children in their district eligible for college tuition and fee waivers, providing assistance in applying for financial aid and scholarships, arranging college visits, and preparing and paying for college entrance exams.

Status: Effective 6/1/17

HB 932 | Relating to the collection of information concerning the number of juvenile offenders committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department who have been in foster care.

Author: Rep. Jarvis Johnson | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. West
Companion: SB 796 (Identical)

Requires the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to inquire from DFPS whether a juvenile offender is currently in foster care and/or how many times the child was previously in foster care. Texas Juvenile Justice must then deliver an annual report to state leadership with statistical information regarding information about the foster children in Texas Juvenile Justice over the past two years.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

HB 1521 | Relating to the exchange of certain information between the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

Author: Rep. White | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Whitmire

Proposes an amendment to the Family Code, which would require DFPS and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to share any information critical to identifying and coordinating a youth’s care, improving a youth’s rehabilitation, or regarding community safety with each other.

Status: Effective 6/15/17

HB 1549 | Relating to the provision of services by the Department of Family and Protective Services, including child protective services and prevention and early intervention services.

Author: Rep. Burkett | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Kolkhorst

Proposes changes in the following areas: Child fatality reviews, child placement decision-making, foster parent recruitment, child abuse and neglect prevention, and support for caseworkers.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

HB 1608 | Relating to creating a pilot program to provide summer internships for foster children.

Author: Rep. Minjarez | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Uresti

Proposes DFPS establish a summer internship pilot program for current and former foster youth who are 15 years old or older to provide them with the opportunity to develop marketable job skills and obtain professional work experience with a business, nonprofit, or government entity.

Status: Effective 6/15/17

Back to Top

other bills of interest

HB 1542 | Relating to the definition of the least restrictive environment for the placement of children in foster care.

Author: Rep. Price | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Birdwell

Required DFPS to secure placement for children requiring basic or moderate services in the least restrictive environment, based on a placement that can meet all the needs of the child in the closest proximity to the child’s home.

Status: Effective 9/1/17

HB 213 | Relating to the office of independent ombudsman for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Author: Rep. Menéndez | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Rodriguez

Establishes an independent ombudsman who must submit a yearly report to the governor, lt. governor, and each member of the legislature that summarizes each complaint the ombudsman investigated, the ombudsman’s recommendation on the complaint, and whether the complaint was resolved or required further action.

Status: Effective 6/15/17

HB 3859 | Relating to protection of the rights of conscience for child welfare services providers.

Author: Rep. Frank | Bill Summary
Sponsor: Sen. Perry

Allow child welfare providers to be protected from legal retaliation if they assert their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Status: Effective 9/1/17

Back to Top