February 19, 2013

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services today unanimously approved four bills by Senator Jane Nelson to better protect and serve Texas children in foster care and other programs connected to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

"These bills create a more community-based, transparent and collaborative approach to address the needs of one of our state's most vulnerable populations -- children in foster care," said Senator Nelson. "My goal with this legislation is to achieve a meaningful, positive impact in the lives of these children and help them to find permanent, supportive homes."

The four bills approved by the committee include:

  • SB 425 which requires that the CASA volunteer, guardian ad litem, and attorney ad litem are consulted prior to changing a child's CPS placement, except in cases of emergency, to ensure that each placement decision is made with input from these child advocates;
  • SB 426 which promotes evidence-based practices for prevention programs by requiring that at least 75% of appropriated home visiting funds go to evidence-based programs;
  • SB 428 which lays the foundation for CPS to establish mentoring programs in which foster parents can mentor biological parents as they prepare to be reunited with their children; and
  • SB 429 which requires judges, before approving the dismissal of a CPS suit, to consider whether any preexisting child support, visitation, or other orders affecting the children would continue to be in effect after dismissal and whether the dismissal would be in the best interest of the children.