In the wake of a massive judicial victory involving the Bright family and their encounter with Harris County Child Protective Services (CPS), it seems fitting that CPS reform is one of THSC’s highest legislative priorities for the 2019 legislative session.
Judge Michael Schneider ruled that Harris County CPS could have no further contact with the Bright children, whom they had removed and illegally held for three days. He then scheduled a hearing where sanctions against CPS would be considered.
The sanctions hearing ended on November 8 with Judge Schneider ordering CPS to pay the Bright family over $127,000 to cover their legal expenses arising from the unwarranted removal and from the hearing that followed. Furthermore, Judge Schneider ordered that Harris County CPS develop new procedures for their caseworkers to properly train them and to prevent future abuses.
THSC’s Interim Work on CPS Reform
Texas clearly needs more judges like Judge Michael Schneider and Texas still needs more legislation passed to reform the CPS system.
During the interim period between legislative sessions, THSC worked tirelessly to elect judges all over the state who would advocate for families and hold government agencies such as CPS accountable for violating the law.
Governor Greg Abbott also commissioned a CPS workgroup over the spring and summer to consider legislation for 2019. THSC participated in this group, which consisted of judges, activists, CPS representatives, the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission and other interested parties.
As a result of this workgroup, as well as independent research performed by THSC and like-minded organizations during the summer, THSC is heading to the legislature in 2019 with a well-vetted list of CPS reform priorities.
Sanctionable Offenses Should Be Addressed
When CPS caseworkers lie in court or file false allegations against a family, judges can hold them accountable by treating such behavior as a sanctionable offense. As we reported last year, it is currently common practice for CPS workers to file many knowingly false allegations against families just to simplify the required paperwork. However, CPS workers almost never face sanctions for these actions, even though sanctions would be the immediate response to false accusations in any other area of law. That is why sanctions such as those issued in the Bright family’s case automatically make headlines.
In 2019, THSC is proposing legislation to hold CPS workers and attorneys accountable for the accusations they make in court, just as any other party would be.
Protection for your family against CPS is just one benefit of joining THSC. Become a THSC member today! Rest assured that we have your back and will defend your family against any wrongful actions taken by CPS. Joining THSC is one of the best ways to help us in Keeping Texas Families Free.