THSC and the Texas homeschool community realized unprecedented success during the 85th Texas Legislature. In total, THSC and the THSC Watchmen successfully passed nine CPS reforms.
- THSC took a stand for innocent Texas families like the Tutts who have suffered injustices in court battles with CPS.
- THSC made significant progress on parental rights reforms through the Family Unity Act.
- THSC pushed the Tebow Bill further than ever before in the legislative process.
All of this was made possible by the homeschool community participating, supporting the THSC team with financial contributions, and taking action when calls to the legislature were needed.
Below is a detailed report on progress for Texas families this legislative session. Thank you for standing with us in Keeping Texas Families Free.
CPS Reforms Passed by the 85th Texas Legislature
Well before Governor Abbott made CPS reform an emergency item in Austin, the THSC team analyzed and drafted CPS reform legislation aimed to provide relief for Texas families suffering through injustices.
Throughout its history, THSC has fought CPS overreach on behalf of its members. This included battling on behalf of the Tutt Family for three years in the Texas court system.
The Tutt case was sparked by the illegal removal of their seven children, who were placed into foster care. THSC took action, bringing the Tutt case before the legislature to collaborate with attorneys, judges, legislators and activists from across the state. The result was overwhelming.
By the grace and blessing of God, nearly every CPS reform that we filed this session was passed. Because of the protections passed into law this session, no Texas family will ever have to suffer as the Tutts did.
CPS case workers and courts must complete CPS case within one-year deadline.
In the past, CPS and Texas courts were notorious for abusing or stretching the case deadline requirement. Some courts would sometimes ignore the deadline completely, leaving children stranded in CPS or the foster care system for unnecessarily long periods of time. This will no longer be allowed.
Senate Bill 11 enforces the current one-year deadline on CPS cases by requiring that a suit be automatically dismissed without a court order if the case is not completed by the deadline. There are some extensions allowed for emergency circumstances.
Today is your opportunity to financially support THSC as we continue fighting for the rights of Texas families by keeping children with fit parents.
Siblings involved in the same CPS incident are now processed by the same court or judge.
Previously, each child in a CPS case could be sent to a different court based on the original jurisdiction. This previously meant multiple court costs and attorney fees if cases were heard in different courts.
Senate Bill 999 requires that all CPS cases regarding the same children and their siblings be heard by the same judge or court. Help THSC today to ensure that parents continue to be protected from unnecessary court costs.
Parental rights can no longer be terminated based on a family's decision to homeschool or decline a vaccination.
CPS currently does not have legal authority to investigate a family based on a family’s decision to homeschool or decline a vaccination. However, CPS has historically used these factors as the basis for investigating a family and removing a child.
House Bill 7 provides families with an explicit defense in cases where CPS uses homeschooling or the decision to decline a vaccination against a family. Help THSC continue to protect parents’ right to homeschool and make decisions about whether to vaccinate their children.
Courts can no longer terminate parental rights because of a parent’s inability to complete CPS services.
The most common reason for terminating parental rights is a parent’s failure to comply with court-ordered services. However, these services from a “one-size-fits-all” list of requirements often do not apply to the parent.
Alternatively, the required services may be unavailable in the parent’s area, be unaffordable, or conflict with other requirements necessary for the child’s return, such as full-time employment obligations.
Parents who fail these requirements may have their rights terminated, even if the requirements were unreasonable to complete. House Bill 7 will prevent a court from terminating parental rights under these circumstances.
Donate to THSC today to continue protecting parental rights in this common issue.
Courts may now postpone a show cause hearing—for good cause shown—for up to one week when requested by the parent or the parent’s attorney.
The law allows a court to postpone a show cause hearing for up to one week in cases where the court appoints an attorney to represent the parent. However, this protection does not extend to parents who represent themselves or hire an attorney.
Parents often do not receive allegations from CPS until shortly before or even the day of a hearing, leaving them no time to prepare. Senate Bill 999 solves this problem by protecting parents from insufficient preparation time for court.
Help THSC ensure that parents are treated fairly by the Texas court system by donating to THSC or the THSC Watchmen today.
Parental rights for both parents can no longer be terminated unless there is evidence to support grounds for termination against both parents.
In many cases where there is evidence of abuse or neglect against only one parent, CPS tends to file for termination of parental rights against both parents.
House Bill 7 requires a court to find clear and convincing evidence of the grounds for termination against each parent in order to terminate both parents’ rights. Consider donating to THSC today to continue our support of non-offending parents.
Courts are now prohibited from holding a hearing without parents present unless specifically authorized in the Family Code.
The law outlines specific cases where the court may hold a hearing without both parents present. However, courts often hold such hearings in CPS cases because they are not specifically disallowed from doing so.
House Bill 7 states that courts may not hold these types of hearings without both parents present unless they are granted specific authorization via statute.
Consider giving to THSC today to support our efforts protecting the rights of parents to fair court proceedings.
Courts are now required to find actual risk of harm to a child in non-emergency circumstances before ordering the child removed from the home.
Previously, in non-emergency situations where CPS requested that a court order removal of a child, CPS was not required to prove risk of harm to the child before removal from the home.
With THSC’s new language in Senate Bill 999, a risk of harm to the child must be found before removal can be ordered by the court.
A generous financial donation today will ensure that THSC continues protecting children from these unjustified removals.
Regarding complaints from anonymous sources, CPS is only allowed to visit a family’s home if alleged abuse or neglect cannot be “confirmed or clearly ruled out without a home visit.”
CPS investigations are covered under two different sections of the law: general investigations and investigations specifically attributed to reports from anonymous sources.
Because of this distinction, CPS has interpreted the statute to allow them to visit a child’s home as part of their investigation before confirming or clearly ruling out abuse if the report is from an anonymous source.
Senate Bill 1063 closes this loophole in anonymous report cases by allowing a home visit only if the abuse cannot be confirmed or clearly ruled out without a home visit.
Donate to THSC today to continue protecting families from unnecessary CPS home visits.
How you can help in future Texas Legislative Sessions
The Family Unity Act
Over the last six legislative sessions, THSC and the THSC Watchmen drafted bills to reform family law that would protect parental rights. Why is this such a point of emphasis for our organization? THSC has seen far too many cases where children are taken away from good parents.
During the 2017 legislative session, THSC saw exciting progress on seven bills to protect children and families. While some of these important reforms were stonewalled in the Senate by Sen. Joan Huffman, three of the bills made progress in House committees. We understand that bills often take multiple legislative sessions to eventually pass into law, so we will stay vigilant building on our momentum. This includes continuing to push for the Family Unity Act to be passed in future sessions.
In the meantime, THSC will continue supporting families facing the unjust removal of children from their homes. We appreciate your prayerful and financial support as we continue fighting for these reforms until our bills pass to protect more children.
The Tim Tebow Bill
THSC and the THSC Watchmen have been working for three consecutive legislative sessions to create more education and extracurricular options for homeschool students and families through the Tim Tebow bill. Significant progress was made in 2017 but there is still work to be done in the Texas Legislature.
The Tim Tebow Bill would have allowed homeschool students to participate in UIL activities at their local public school just like students enrolled at the school.
Unfortunately, the bill fell one vote short in the House Education Committee due to opposition from the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA). Unfortunately, the THSCA hired a major lobby firm and called on public school parents to oppose our position.
In spite of this opposition, the Tebow Bill made more progress than ever before. For the first time, we secured a hearing in the House committee on this bill. We also demonstrated overwhelming support by bringing together citizens to testify on behalf of the bill.
THSC firmly believes that homeschool students deserve access to programs that their parents’ tax dollars help fund, just like 34 other U.S. states currently allow. Your donation to the THSC Watchmen will help us continue filing this bill during every session until it passes.
Do you appreciate what THSC accomplished for your family this session? Will you benefit from the changes that these new bills will make in Texas? Do you want to see more pro-homeschool and pro-parental rights legislation pass? Consider making a generous financial donation today to THSC or the THSC Watchmen to show your support for our hard work in Austin during each Texas Legislative session.