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        Dustin Rynders, Special Project Attorney
        Ian Spechler, Special Project Attorney
          How was this project
   The Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial
    Commission for Children, Youth and Families formed a
    workgroup in 2008 to look at outcomes for youth in the
    long-term conservatorship of DFPS but placed in TYC or
    SSLC facilities, formerly known as state schools. One key
    issue is that youth often lacked legal representation
    while caught in and between two systems.
   To address this problem, the Children’s Commission is
    partnering with Advocacy, Inc., the Rees Jones
    Foundation, Texas Access to Justice Foundation, and the
    Meadows Foundation to provide this population legal
   This project is unique nationwide and attorneys attempt
    to provide key support to the youth we serve.
   Lack of communication between the two
   Lack of coordination of transition planning.
   Lack of understanding of the history of a
       Case example: RS came into TYC and was not
        identified as a student who needed special
        education services. While we ensured he
        received those services, he lost a full school
   Lack of reporting to the court about
    problems and issues that take place under
    the other system.
   Lack of understanding of who is
    responsible for therapeutic services and
HB 1629: Coordination of Care
   between CPS and TYC
   The consent to medical care provisions for foster youth apply
    to foster youth committed to TYC. Tex. Fam. Code §
   The juvenile court handling the delinquency case may
    communication with the court having jurisdiction over the
    foster child. The parties in the foster care case may participate
    in this communication. Tex. Fam. Code § 54.04(y)
   The court may appoint attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem
    for the youth if he or she does not have one. Tex. Fam.
    Code § 107.0161
   The court having jurisdiction over the foster child
    shall conduct a review of the youth’s commitment
    to TYC or release under supervision by TYC. Tex.
    Fam. Code § 263.002(2)
   A youth may attend a permanency review or
    placement review hearing in person, by telephone
    or video conference. Tex. Fam. Code §§
    263.302, 263.501(f), 264.0091
   The Department shall be required to prepare a
    permanency progress or placement review report or
    a placement review report that addresses whether
    the youth’s needs for treatment, rehabilitation and
    education are being met, and then the court
    determines if the youth’s needs are being met. Tex.
    Fam. Code §§ 263.303(b), 263.306(a),
    263.502(c)(7), 263.503(7)
   The court having jurisdiction over the youth
    shall not dismiss the suit affecting the parent-
    child relationship if the youth is committed to
    TYC. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.501(g)
        Example: AM was 16 when he was committed to
         TYC. CPS came to visit him once and then closed
         his case. Thus, no one had parental rights. The
         facility consented to medical care, planned his
         education and treatment, and took sole possession
         over all functions that could be considered parental
         in nature. AM responded poorly and was set to be
         transferred to adult prison before our involvement.
   The Department and TYC shall share records and
    information regarding the youth. Tex. Hum. Res. Code §
   The Department has the same rights of parents under TYC’s
    parent’s bill of rights. Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 61.0763(e)
   TYC caseworker shall submit a written report to the court
    and parties in the CPS case that provides results of
    assessments, information regarding the youth’s placement in
    TYC treatment programs and a description of the youth’s
    progress. Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 61.0766
   Joint rules shall be adopted to ensure that the Department
    and TYC cooperate in providing services and transition
    planning to the youth. This includes the Department’s
    caseworker visiting the child in person at least once per
    month in TYC, and TYC providing timely notice to the
    Department’s caseworker and child’s attorney ad litem or
    guardian ad litem of treatment team meeting, medical
    appointments, ARD meetings, grievance disciplinary
    hearings, reports of abuse or neglect and any significant
    medical conditions of the child. Tex. Hum. Res. Code §
     When Jurisdiction is Extended:
Texas has a new law that states that youth can opt to stay in
care until their 21st birthday or until they withdraw consent to
remain in care. Texas Family Code 263.602. When that
1.  Appointments May Continue
          The court may extend appointment of the attorney ad litem or
           guardian ad litem. Texas Family Code 263.605.
2.       Hearings May be Held
          The court may continue to hold periodic review hearings or may
           schedule a hearing on request of the child, the child’s attorney, or
           the child’s guardian ad litem or volunteer advocate to review the
           young adult’s plan of service, voluntary agreement to stay in
           foster care, and transition plan.
          The court may order appropriate action for additional services the
           youth is entitled to under the department's rules or policies or
           contract with a service provider. Texas Family Code 263.609.
TYC Facilities in Texas
   91% of youth committed to TYC are males.
   85% have IQ scores below 100.
   Median math level is four years behind average
   Median reading level is five years behind
    average peers.
   37% of youth have “serious” mental health
                Statistics available at
             MDT MEETINGS
   Before a youth can advance a stage in TYC, the
    youth needs to participate in an MDT meeting. It
    is also where treatment is planned and progress
    reported on.
   Youth have meetings with their team once per
    month; caseworkers and attorneys should try to
    participate when they will be attempting to go
    for a new stage or need other treatment. This is
    an important element of interagency
   TYC conducts several types of due process hearings at
    which TYC attorneys serve as ALJs. These include parole
    revocation (Level I), movement to more restrictive or
    secure placements (Level II, Level III), or detention
   Youth are assigned advocates (employees of their
    choosing) for such hearings. They may and should also
    request their own advocates (CASA, attorney, or another
   Hearing officers must consider extenuating
    circumstances such as disability, making an attorney or
    caseworker’s role more important.
   Must meet at least 30 days prior to the minimum length of stay
    (“MLOS”) to determine whether youth meets release criteria. Must
    complete review within 30 days after MLOS is over.
   Panel may only extend if a majority feels that the youth “by clear
    and convincing evidence” needs further TYC rehab and needs a
    residential placement.
   Case workers, family members, and potential placements can
    submit information to the panel for consideration about plans that
    have been made for success of the youth in the community, etc.
   Children should receive TCOOMMI mental health services in their
    new placements and should probably visit the new placement.
   Need an IEP meeting in new school within 30 days of transfer.
   Once a decision to release a youth has been made, notices must go
    out to courts and victims, providing a 10-15 day period before youth
    is transitioned to community.
   MS was a 17 year old who was terrified of the
    uncertainty of leaving her facility and sabotaged
    her chances to leave intentionally.
   When we were appointed, nobody had a plan for
    where MS would go once she got out. When MS
    asked, CPS said “we’ll figure that out” and TYC
    said “that’s CPS’ decision.”
   We had judge order a circle of support and
    identified a grandmother who was eager to have
    MS. MS lives there now and is thriving.
   Youth’s CPS case worker had reported that there was no
    need to plan for release because client would most likely
    get in trouble and stay in confinement. Client informed
    us, he was scared to leave because he didn’t know
    where he would go next.
   Strategy
       Identify placement.
       Obtain client’s buy-in on placement.
       Obtain order for placement pending release and provide to
        facility in time for client to participate actively in discharge
        planning in TYC.
       Have client, attorney, volunteer advocates and placement write
        the Release Review Panel to encourage release and inform panel
        of plans that were made to promote success in community
         Free Appropriate Public
   Available to all students with disabilities age 3-
    21 at public expense
   Student must meet the definition of one or more
    of several enumerated disabilities and “by
    reason thereof” need special education and
    related services
   Services must be based on student’s unique
    individual needs and be designed to confer
    educational benefit
          Individualized Education
   A written plan setting forth the agreement
    between the parents and the school on how the
    student will be educated
       Measurable Annual Goals
       Placement in the Least Restrictive Environment
       Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) and Positive
        Behavioral Supports and Interventions including
        Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), if appropriate
       Related Services
       Transition Services (age 16 and older)
       Supplementary Aids and Services
       Assistive Technology
          The ARD Committee
   Meets at least once a year to develop, review,
    and revise the student’s Individualized Education
    Plan (IEP)
   Parent or school may request additional or more
    frequent meetings
   ARD Committee members (minimum):
      parent and student, if appropriate

      school district representative

      at least one special education teacher

      at least one general education teacher

      someone who can interpret evaluations

      others invited by parent, student or school
               Surrogate Parents
   District must make “reasonable efforts” to ensure
    assignment of a surrogate parent not more than 30 days
    after the need arises.
   Criteria for selection:
       NOT a school district employee
       No personal or professional interest that conflicts with the
        interests of the child (not CPS, not a TYC or SSLC employee)
       Has knowledge and skills to ensure adequate representation of
        the child

   Represents the child in all matters relating to:
       Identification, evaluation, and placement
       Provision of FAPE to the child
    Surrogate Parent Procedures
   The Texas Education Agency must develop
    procedures to ensure that surrogate parents:
       complete a training program (within 90 days of
       visit the child and the child’s school
       consult with persons involved in the child’s education,
        including teachers, caseworkers, court-appointed
        volunteers, guardian ad litem, attorney ad litem, foster
        parents, and caretakers
       review the child’s educational records
       attend the child’s ARD committee meetings
       exercise judgment in pursuing the child’s interests
       exercise the child’s due process rights
     Court’s Authority to Appoint
          Surrogate Parent
   The court having jurisdiction over a foster
    child may appoint a surrogate parent for a
    foster child.
20 U.S.C. § 1415(a)(2)(A)(i)
                 Transition Plans
School districts have a duty to develop transition
   plans for youth with disabilities
  ─   Beginning when a youth with disabilities is 16, and
      updated annually thereafter, the ARD committee
      must develop:
         Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon
          age appropriate transition assessments related to training,
          education, employment, and where appropriate
          independent living shelters;
         The transition services (including courses of study) needed
          to assist the child in reaching those goals; and
         Beginning one year before a youth turns 18, a statement
          that the youth has been informed of his rights under IDEA,
          if any, that will transfer to the youth at the age of 18. 20
          U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VII).
  Under Section 264.121 of the Texas Family
Code, the Department shall address the unique
   challenges facing foster youth who are
   transitioning to independent living by:
        Beginning transition planning at 14 (used to be 16).
        Enrolling youth in Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) by 16.
           For youth with disabilities that make PAL inappropriate, the
            Department can provide PAL credit by looking at progress on
            transition goals in their school plans (IEPS).
        Extends medical coverage for foster youth and former foster
         youth up to 21 with a single application at the time youth
         leaves foster care.
        Requires foster care providers to provide an experimental life
         skills training to youth who are 14 that helps the transition to
         independent living by teaching them grocery shopping, meal
         preparation and cooking, using public transportation,
         performing basic household tasks and balancing a checkbook.
   Transitional living services are available to youth over 18
    who are no longer in care if the person whom they are
    staying with was previously designated as a perpetrator of
    abuse or neglect and does not pose a threat to the youth’s
   Department shall ensure foster youth receive a copy of birth
    certificate, Social Security card and personal ID on or before
    they turn 16. A PAL staff person shall assist youth who has
    not timely received these documents. All youth over 16 shall
    be provide the name of their PAL staff person.
   All youth enter PAL shall be provided a booklet about PAL
    program and benefits including extended medical coverage
    until 21, and exemption from payment of tuition and fess in
    institutions of higher education.
   For more information on transition, visit
How do courts obtain free attorneys
ad litem for dually managed youth?

    Judges statewide can appoint Advocacy, Inc. as
     attorney ad litem or co-attorney ad litem for
     foster children who are placed in TYC or SSLC
    Advocacy, Inc. will not charge for representation
     provided for eligible youth, because grant
     funding is covering staff and travel cost.
             How can I get more
   Contact either of the two project attorneys:
       Dustin Rynders @ 713.974.7691 or
       Ian Spechler @ 512.454.4816 or

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