Resource Letter:
For Judges and Attorneys Handling Child Protective Services Cases
September 12, 2019
Announcing Live CPS-Related MCLE on Thursday, September 26, 2019

In partnership with the State Bar of Texas, the Children’s Commission will present four live webcasts on basic and advanced topics for attorneys providing legal representation in CPS cases. The total MCLE is six hours, which includes 2.5 hours of ethics. The Children’s Commission’s Vice Chair and Training Committee Chair, Judge Piper McCraw of the 469th District Court in Collin County, Texas will be our Master of Ceremonies again this year. Please read below for detailed information about each of the topics, registration, cost, and applicable discounts and scholarships.
Webcast #1: Essentials of Child Representation in CPS Cases: Ethics and Best Practices for Attorneys ad Litem

This panel discussion will cover ethical issues for attorneys representing children in CPS cases, statutory rights and duties, what “active representation” can look like, and education advocacy for children. The presentation will focus on the attorney-client relationship across these different developmental stages:

  • Representing Nonverbal Children (understanding the dual role of the Ad Litem and substituted judgment);

  • Representing Children ages 6-12 (understanding substituted judgment versus being client-directed and related “gray areas”); and

  • Representing Older Youth (understanding client-directed advocacy; dual status issues; transitioning youth; extended jurisdiction; and benefits).

Moderator: Judge Piper McCraw
Panelists: Lori Duke, Co-Director at the Children’s Rights Clinic at UT Law in Travis County; Sarah D. Worthington, MSSW, Staff Attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., Texas Foster Youth Justice Project in Bexar County; and Tara Garlinghouse, co-founder and Executive Director of The Foster Care Advocacy Center in Harris County.

2.0 hours of MCLE, with .75 hours of ethics credit.
Thursday, September 26, 2019 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.
For more information and to register, please click below:
Webcast #2: Mediation as a Tool for Family Reunification

This presentation will emphasize how to fulfill the statutory duties of an Attorney ad Litem or Parent Attorney before mediation in a CPS case in order to optimize opportunities at mediation, including how to advocate for successful reunification of families, where possible. The importance of siblings being placed together will be discussed as will the role of the mediator and ethical issues for mediators in CPS cases.

Moderator: Dylan Moench, Staff Attorney, Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission.  
Panelists: Judge Angela Ellis, attorney and mediator, Harris County, and Annette Ezzell, attorney and mediator, Wichita County.

1.0 hour of MCLE, with .50 hours of ethics credit.
Thursday, September 26, 2019 from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm.
For more information and to register, please click below:
Webcast #3: Essentials of Parent Representation in CPS Cases: Ethics and Best Practices for Attorneys Representing Parents

This panel discussion will include ethical issues for parent attorneys, as well as statutory rights and duties that attorneys must undertake as part of their representation. The following issues will also be covered: reasonable efforts and how they can be challenged; practical examples of “active representation;” and acknowledging and responding to a parent client’s trauma. 

The webcast will also discuss the attorney-client relationship throughout the stages of a CPS case; specifically, advocacy at the outset of the case (understanding your client’s informal, pre-filing involvement with CPS through the Adversary Hearing); advocacy at the midpoint of the case (understanding the impact of the Status Hearing and Permanency Review Hearings and the importance of active representation of the parent client during this stage of the case); and advocacy at the end of the case (understanding advocacy for reunification or termination).

Moderator: Judge Nikki Mundkowsky, Centex Child Protection Court North, McLennan County.
Panelists: Jacquelyn Wilson, Attorney at the Travis County Office of Parental Representation; Derbha Jones, Attorney at Derbha Jones Law Offices of Denton County; and Rob Galvin, Attorney at Rob Galvin Law Offices, Travis County.

2.0 hours of MCLE, with .75 hours of ethics credit .
Thursday, September 26, 2019 from 12:45 pm to 2:45 pm.
For more information and to register, please click below:
Webcast #4: Avoiding Burnout: Essentials of Self Care in CPS Cases

This presentation will provide education on and the differences between secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout. Available resources for Texas attorneys and judges regarding dealing with depression, anxiety, and substance use will be discussed, along with practical ideas for self-care. 

Speakers: Becky Morales, LCSW-S, Clinical Director of the Austin Center for Grief and Loss, Travis County; and Erica Grigg, Staff Attorney at Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

1.0 hour of MCLE, with .50 hours of ethics credit.
Thursday, September 26, 2019 from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm .
For more information and to register, please click below:

Please note that each webcast has a different MCLE number, so viewers will need to register and pay separately for each webcast. Also, viewers who cannot watch the entire webcast at the scheduled times may still register now and view when the archived version becomes available after the broadcast. Attorneys have until September 30, 2020 to complete the program.

The full cost of each webcast varies dependent on its length. Please note that the following discounts and scholarships are available upon registration:  

  • Judges and their staff attorneys can register for free.

  • Court-appointed attorneys currently taking cases on the CPS docket or those seeking court approval to represent a parent or child in at least one CPS case in the next 12 months can receive a discount from TexasBarCLE, reducing the cost per webcast to $25.

  • Discounts are not available through TexasBarCLE to prosecutors who represent the State or DFPS. However, any prosecutor who cannot afford to pay or whose employer cannot pay the full cost of the webcast may apply for one of two scholarships:

  1. A scholarship through the Children’s Commission, where the applicant pays for the full cost of the webcast to TexasBarCLE and seeks reimbursement from the Children’s Commission of the total cost of any and all of the above webcasts less $25 per webcast, bringing the cost per webcast to $25. This scholarship form is available on the Children's Commission website Scholarship Request page; OR
  2. If an attorney has not already accumulated 15 or more hours of accredited CLE during the MCLE reporting year in which the requested CLE occurs, they may apply for a scholarship through TexasBarCLE where the applicant agrees to pay whatever amount she or he can afford for a webcast. Completed forms must be submitted to TexasBarCLE at least one week prior to the webcast. The form is available on the TexasBarCLE MCLE registration page.

Please note that both of the above scholarships are available until a year after their broadcast date.

If questions, please contact .
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For a complete list of Jurist in Residence Letters, please visit the Children's Commission webpage . Information provided by the Children’s Commission should not be read as a commentary by the Supreme Court of Texas or any other court. The Children’s Commission website is not equipped to facilitate dialogue or conversation about matters related to the information in this communique. For more information about the Children’s Commission, please visit our website .