HB 4100 is an important bill filed in the Texas legislature to protect parental rights, specifically related to the Child Abuse Registry. This bill, authored by home school mom and state Representative Stephanie Klick, is designed to protect parents from being unjustly placed on the registry.
Problems with the Child Abuse Registry
Although the name “child abuse registry” suggests it is a list of people who have committed child abuse, the registry also includes people who have been investigated by CPS and have been determined to be innocent.
When CPS investigates an allegation of abuse or neglect, the agency often places the person’s name on the registry before it has been determined in court that the person actually committed child abuse or neglect. CPS is also slow to take a person’s name off the registry, even after it has been determined that the allegation is without merit.
How this plays out is CPS can receive an allegation of abuse, conduct a preliminary investigation, place the person’s name on the child abuse registry, determine that the person did not commit child abuse or neglect, close the case, and yet still leave the the person’s name on the registry.
This common practice has a dangerous effect on families.
How CPS Misuses the Child Abuse Registry
For example, one mom in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was found by a judge to be innocent of abusing and harming her children. But, despite the false accusations, her name was unjustly left on the child abuse registry—where it remains today—even though all charges against her were dropped.
The problem extends to other areas because having your name on the registry can cause you to fail a background check, making you ineligible for certain types of jobs or opportunities. This especially harms innocent and healthy family members seeking employment, adoptions, foster parenting, childcare, volunteering, etc.
It is also possible for a parent’s name to be placed on the registry despite CPS never contacting them. CPS only has to make an internal finding that there is reason to believe the parent abused or neglected their child. In situations where this finding is made and the case is later closed, the parent’s name may remain on the child abuse registry without their knowledge.
What has happened to parents is the first time they discover they were investigated by CPS—much less placed on the child abuse registry—is when they apply for a job or childcare volunteer position and they are rejected because of what appears in their background check.
Unfortunately, there is no current requirement that a person’s name ever has to be removed from the registry unless the person appeals the placement. This is of course impossible if the person does not even know they are on the registry. If the person knows to appeal, a judge must then order that the person’s name be removed.
How HB 4100 Solves the Problem
HB 4100 contains three key provisions that will protect parents from injustices related to the Texas Child Abuse Registry:
- Requires that an individual’s name be removed from the child abuse registry if the person is determined to be innocent.
- Requires that the Department of Family and Protective Services notify an individual before placing his/her name on the child abuse registry.
- Prevents the Department of Family and Protective Services from placing an individual’s name on the child abuse registry if the department’s finding of abuse or neglect is not sustained by an administrative law judge.
These changes will ensure that fit parents are not victimized by an unfair system. Also, the changes prevent violations of due process.
The THSC Watchmen work tirelessly to advocate for these changes as part of our commitment to protect the parental rights of Texas families. Please consider donating to the THSC Watchmen as they continue Keeping Texas Families Free!