The Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) manages a
video conferencing project (VC)
between the courts presiding over child abuse and neglect cases, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)/Child Protection Services (CPS), and the residential placement facilities contracted to DFPS,
to facilitate communication between the children placed in these facilities and the judges
overseeing their cases. VC calls are conducted over a secure link, which differentiates the OCA’s video conferencing from a public network such as Skype or FaceTime.
The original purpose of the VC project was to
enable children involved in CPS cases to participate in their court hearings
without them being physically present in the courtroom, since appearing in person can be difficult for children due to placement location, transportation barriers, and the court’s inability to accommodate the child’s needs.
Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
program offices can be set up with VC equipment to accommodate private VC between children and others. This allows CASAs to conduct a virtual meeting with a child placed outside the child’s home jurisdiction and provides CASA the opportunity to
facilitate visits with siblings and/or family members
, when appropriate, as well as with the child’s CASA. With 102 placement facilities, 44 courts, and 42 CASA program offices video-enabled around Texas, technology is
helping to overcome the geographical barriers
that would otherwise prevent kids from connecting with courts and appropriate people on their cases.
no cost for the VC system setup or use
court, CASA program office, or residential placement facility
interested in using the VC system is only required to have a computer or smart device with a camera and an internet connection. The Office of Court Administration can provide a web cam free of charge for VC.