Texas CASA Public Policy Team in Action
Texas CASA’s Public Policy team continues to represent the voice of CASA before the legislature.
Public Policy Executive Director Andy Homer testified before the House Human Services Committee on Chairman James Frank’s House Bill 3331 at the hearing on April 2.
HB 3331 makes a number of changes in the Family Code relating to procedures and grounds for removal of a child by the Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS); termination of a parent-child relationship (TPR); and adversary, permanency, and final order hearings. Those changes are largely focused on strengthening parental rights. Andy testified largely regarding the “free-range parenting” provisions in the bill. The bill lists activities that should not be considered grounds for removal, such as allowing a child who is sufficiently mature to walk to the park. He recommended the standard be the “prudent parent” standard that is already in statute rather than trying to create a comprehensive list of appropriate activities.
On April 9, Public Policy Coordinator Sarah Crockett also testified before the House Human Services Committee in support of HB 3390. The committee substitute for House Bill 3390 by Representative Scott Sanford requires DFPS to elicit, in a developmentally appropriate manner from a child, the identity of any adult, particularly an adult residing in the child’s community, who could be a relative or designated caregiver for the child when they are removed from their home. The committee substitute is significantly different from the bill as filed, which would have established a voluntary caregiver program within DFPS. In her testimony, Sarah noted that including the child’s voice in their case is something the Department and CASA have been working toward through our family collaboration efforts, and that Texas CASA was excited to see this best practice become a requirement in statute.
Policy Fellow Bryan Mares testified before the House Human Services Committee on April 16 in support of Rep. Toni Rose’s HB 3614. HB 3614 requires caseworkers to conduct monthly visitations with children in the conservatorship of the Department and requires caseworkers to complete an assessment during the visit that documents the child’s safety, the forms of discipline used in the placement, and a review of the child’s mental, medical, dental and educational progress.