Law:Title 5. The Parent-child Relationship And The Suit Affecting The Parent-child Relationship. Subtitle E. Protection Of The Child (Texas)

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Subtitle E. Protection Of The Child

Contents

Chapter 261. Investigation Of Report Of Child Abuse Or Neglect

Subchapter A. General Provisions

Section  261.001.  Definitions.

In this chapter:

(1)  "Abuse" includes the following acts or omissions by a person:

(A)  mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child's growth, development, or psychological functioning;

(B)  causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child's growth, development, or psychological functioning;

(C)  physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;

(D)  failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child;

(E)  sexual conduct harmful to a child's mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child or children under Section 21.02, Penal Code, indecency with a child under Section 21.11, Penal Code, sexual assault under Section 22.011, Penal Code, or aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021, Penal Code;

(F)  failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child;

(G)  compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct as defined by Section 43.01, Penal Code;

(H)  causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene as defined by Section 43.21, Penal Code, or pornographic;

(I)  the current use by a person of a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child;

(J)  causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code; or

(K)  causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child as defined by Section 43.25, Penal Code.

(2)  "Department" means the Department of Family and Protective Services.

(3)  "Designated agency" means the agency designated by the court as responsible for the protection of children.

(4)  "Neglect" includes:

(A)  the leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child;

(B)  the following acts or omissions by a person:

(i)  placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child;

(ii)  failing to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for a child, with the failure resulting in or presenting a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury or with the failure resulting in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child;

(iii)  the failure to provide a child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding failure caused primarily by financial inability unless relief services had been offered and refused;

(iv)  placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of sexual conduct harmful to the child; or

(v)  placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to acts or omissions that constitute abuse under Subdivision (1)(E), (F), (G), (H), or (K) committed against another child; or

(C)  the failure by the person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare to permit the child to return to the child's home without arranging for the necessary care for the child after the child has been absent from the home for any reason, including having been in residential placement or having run away.

(5)  "Person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare" means a person who traditionally is responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare, including:

(A)  a parent, guardian, managing or possessory conservator, or foster parent of the child;

(B)  a member of the child's family or household as defined by Chapter 71;

(C)  a person with whom the child's parent cohabits;

(D)  school personnel or a volunteer at the child's school; or

(E)  personnel or a volunteer at a public or private child-care facility that provides services for the child or at a public or private residential institution or facility where the child resides.

(6)  "Report" means a report that alleged or suspected abuse or neglect of a child has occurred or may occur.

(7)  "Board" means the Board of Protective and Regulatory Services.

(8)  "Born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance" means a child:

(A)  who is born to a mother who during the pregnancy used a controlled substance, as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, other than a controlled substance legally obtained by prescription, or alcohol; and

(B)  who, after birth as a result of the mother's use of the controlled substance or alcohol:

(i)  experiences observable withdrawal from the alcohol or controlled substance;

(ii)  exhibits observable or harmful effects in the child's physical appearance or functioning; or

(iii)  exhibits the demonstrable presence of alcohol or a controlled substance in the child's bodily fluids.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 86, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 63, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 19.01(26), eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 59, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.11, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 593, Sec. 3.32, eff. September 1, 2007.



Section  261.002.  Central Registry.

(a) The department shall establish and maintain in Austin a central registry of reported cases of child abuse or neglect.

(b)  The department may adopt rules necessary to carry out this section. The rules shall provide for cooperation with local child service agencies, including hospitals, clinics, and schools, and cooperation with other states in exchanging reports to effect a national registration system.

(c)  The department may enter into agreements with other states to allow for the exchange of reports of child abuse and neglect in other states' central registry systems.  The department shall use information obtained under this subsection in performing the background checks required under Section 42.056, Human Resources Code.  The department shall cooperate with federal agencies and shall provide information and reports of child abuse and neglect to the appropriate federal agency that maintains the national registry for child abuse and neglect, if a national registry exists.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.12, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.003.  Application To Students In School For Deaf Or School For Blind And Visually Impaired.

This chapter applies to the investigation of a report of abuse or neglect of a student, without regard to the age of the student, in the Texas School for the Deaf or the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.



Section  261.004.  Statistics Of Abuse And Neglect Of Children.

(a) The department shall prepare and disseminate statistics by county relating to the department's activities under this subtitle and include the information specified in Subsection (b) in an annual report available to the public.

(b)  The department shall report the following information:

(1)  the number of initial phone calls received by the department alleging abuse and neglect;

(2)  the number of children reported to the department as having been abused and neglected;

(3)  the number of reports received by the department alleging abuse or neglect and assigned by the department for investigation;

(4)  of the children to whom Subdivision (2) applies:

(A)  the number for whom the report was substantiated;

(B)  the number for whom the report was unsubstantiated;

(C)  the number for whom the report was determined to be false;

(D)  the number who did not receive services from the department under a state or federal program;

(E)  the number who received services, including preventative services, from the department under a state or federal program; and

(F)  the number who were removed from the child's home during the preceding year;

(5)  the number of families in which the child was not removed, but the child or family received services from the department;

(6)  the number of children who died during the preceding year as a result of child abuse or neglect;

(7)  of the children to whom Subdivision (6) applies, the number who were in foster care at the time of death;

(8)  the number of child protective services workers responsible for report intake, assessment, or investigation;

(9)  the response time by the department with respect to conducting an initial investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect;

(10)  the response time by the department with respect to commencing services to families and children for whom an allegation of abuse or neglect has been made;

(11)  the number of children who were returned to their families or who received family preservation services and who, before the fifth anniversary of the date of return or receipt, were the victims of substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect, including abuse or neglect resulting in the death of the child;

(12)  the number of cases pursued by the department in each stage of the judicial process, including civil and criminal proceedings and the results of each proceeding; and

(13)  the number of children for whom a person was appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child and the average number of out-of-court contacts between the person and the child.

(c)  The department shall compile the information specified in Subsection (b) for the preceding year in a report to be submitted to the legislature and the general public not later than February 1 of each year.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 64, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Subchapter B. Report Of Abuse Or Neglect; Immunities

Section  261.101.  Persons Required To Report; Time To Report.

(a) A person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter.

(b)  If a professional has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected, or that a child is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code, and the professional has cause to believe that the child has been abused as defined by Section 261.001 or 261.401, the professional shall make a report not later than the 48th hour after the hour the professional first suspects that the child has been or may be abused or neglected or is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code.  A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report.  In this subsection, "professional" means an individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required, has direct contact with children.  The term includes teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees, employees of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services, juvenile probation officers, and juvenile detention or correctional officers.

(c)  The requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services.

(d)  Unless waived in writing by the person making the report, the identity of an individual making a report under this chapter is confidential and may be disclosed only:

(1)  as provided by Section 261.201; or

(2)  to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of conducting a criminal investigation of the report.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 87, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 162, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 11, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 65, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 6.29, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1420, Sec. 5.003, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 949, Sec. 27, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.102.  Matters To Be Reported.

A report should reflect the reporter's belief that a child has been or may be abused or neglected or has died of abuse or neglect.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 88, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.



Section  261.103.  Report Made To Appropriate Agency.

(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (c) and Section 261.405, a report shall be made to:

(1)  any local or state law enforcement agency;

(2)  the department;

(3)  the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred; or

(4)  the agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children.

(b)  A report may be made to the Texas Youth Commission instead of the entities listed under Subsection (a) if the report is based on information provided by a child while under the supervision of the commission concerning the child's alleged abuse of another child.

(c)  Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a report, other than a report under Subsection (a)(3) or Section 261.405, must be made to the department if the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 89, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1477, Sec. 24, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1297, Sec. 46, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 213, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.104.  Contents Of Report.

The person making a report shall identify, if known:

(1)  the name and address of the child;

(2)  the name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child; and

(3)  any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 90, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.



Section  261.105.  Referral Of Report By Department Or Law Enforcement.

(a) All reports received by a local or state law enforcement agency that allege abuse or neglect by a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare shall be referred immediately to the department or the designated agency.

(b)  The department or designated agency shall immediately notify the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency of any report it receives, other than a report from a law enforcement agency, that concerns the suspected abuse or neglect of a child or death of a child from abuse or neglect.

(c)  In addition to notifying a law enforcement agency, if the report relates to a child in a facility operated, licensed, certified, or registered by a state agency, the department shall refer the report to the agency for investigation.

(c-1)  Notwithstanding Subsections (b) and (c), if a report under this section relates to a child with mental retardation receiving services in a state supported living center as defined by Section 531.002, Health and Safety Code, or the ICF-MR component of the Rio Grande State Center, the department shall proceed with the investigation of the report as provided by Section 261.404.

(d)  If the department initiates an investigation and determines that the abuse or neglect does not involve a person responsible for the child's care, custody, or welfare, the department shall refer the report to a law enforcement agency for further investigation. If the department determines that the abuse or neglect involves an employee of a public primary or secondary school, and that the child is a student at the school, the department shall orally notify the superintendent of the school district in which the employee is employed about the investigation.

(e)  In cooperation with the department, the Texas Youth Commission by rule shall adopt guidelines for identifying a report made to the commission under Section 261.103(b) that is appropriate to refer to the department or a law enforcement agency for investigation. Guidelines adopted under this subsection must require the commission to consider the severity and immediacy of the alleged abuse or neglect of the child victim.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 66, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1477, Sec. 25, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 374, Sec. 3, eff. June 18, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 284, Sec. 4, eff. June 11, 2009.



Section  261.1055.  Notification Of District Attorneys.

(a) A district attorney may inform the department or designated agency that the district attorney wishes to receive notification of some or all reports of suspected abuse or neglect of children who were in the county at the time the report was made or who were in the county at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect.

(b)  If the district attorney makes the notification under this section, the department or designated agency shall, on receipt of a report of suspected abuse or neglect, immediately notify the district attorney as requested and the department or designated agency shall forward a copy of the reports to the district attorney on request.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 67, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  261.106.  Immunities.

(a) A person acting in good faith who reports or assists in the investigation of a report of alleged child abuse or neglect or who testifies or otherwise participates in a judicial proceeding arising from a report, petition, or investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

(b)  Immunity from civil and criminal liability extends to an authorized volunteer of the department or a law enforcement officer who participates at the request of the department in an investigation of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect or in an action arising from an investigation if the person was acting in good faith and in the scope of the person's responsibilities.

(c)  A person who reports the person's own abuse or neglect of a child or who acts in bad faith or with malicious purpose in reporting alleged child abuse or neglect is not immune from civil or criminal liability.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 91, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.



Section 261.107.  False Report; Criminal Penalty; Civil Penalty.

(a) A person commits an offense if, with the intent to deceive, the person knowingly makes a report as provided in this chapter that is false.  An offense under this subsection is a state jail felony unless it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has previously been convicted under this section, in which case the offense is a felony of the third degree.

(b)  A finding by a court in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship that a report made under this chapter before or during the suit was false or lacking factual foundation may be grounds for the court to modify an order providing for possession of or access to the child who was the subject of the report by restricting further access to the child by the person who made the report.

(c)  The appropriate county prosecuting attorney shall be responsible for the prosecution of an offense under this section.

(d)  The court shall order a person who is convicted of an offense under Subsection (a) to pay any reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the person who was falsely accused of abuse or neglect in any proceeding relating to the false report.

(e)  A person who engages in conduct described by Subsection (a) is liable to the state for a civil penalty of $1,000.  The attorney general shall bring an action to recover a civil penalty authorized by this subsection.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 92, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 68; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 6.30, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.13, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.14(a), eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.108.  Frivolous Claims Against Person Reporting.

(a) In this section:

(1)  "Claim" means an action or claim by a party, including a plaintiff, counterclaimant, cross-claimant, or third-party plaintiff, requesting recovery of damages.

(2)  "Defendant" means a party against whom a claim is made.

(b)  A court shall award a defendant reasonable attorney's fees and other expenses related to the defense of a claim filed against the defendant for damages or other relief arising from reporting or assisting in the investigation of a report under this chapter or participating in a judicial proceeding resulting from the report if:

(1)  the court finds that the claim is frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation because the defendant is immune from liability under Section 261.106; and

(2)  the claim is dismissed or judgment is rendered for the defendant.

(c)  To recover under this section, the defendant must, at any time after the filing of a claim, file a written motion stating that:

(1)  the claim is frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation because the defendant is immune from liability under Section 261.106; and

(2)  the defendant requests the court to award reasonable attorney's fees and other expenses related to the defense of the claim.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.



Section  261.109.  Failure To Report; Penalty.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person has cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect and knowingly fails to report as provided in this chapter.

(b)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the child was a person with mental retardation who resided in a state supported living center, the ICF-MR component of the Rio Grande State Center, or a facility licensed under Chapter 252, Health and Safety Code, and the actor knew that the child had suffered serious bodily injury as a result of the abuse or neglect.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 284, Sec. 5, eff. June 11, 2009.



Section  261.110.  Employer Retaliation Prohibited.

(a) In this section, "professional" has the meaning assigned by Section 261.101(b).

(b)  An employer may not suspend or terminate the employment of, or otherwise discriminate against, a person who is a professional and who in good faith:

(1)  reports child abuse or neglect to:

(A)  the person's supervisor;

(B)  an administrator of the facility where the person is employed;

(C)  a state regulatory agency; or

(D)  a law enforcement agency; or

(2)  initiates or cooperates with an investigation or proceeding by a governmental entity relating to an allegation of child abuse or neglect.

(c)  A person whose employment is suspended or terminated or who is otherwise discriminated against in violation of this section may sue for injunctive relief, damages, or both.

(d)  A plaintiff who prevails in a suit under this section may recover:

(1)  actual damages, including damages for mental anguish even if an injury other than mental anguish is not shown;

(2)  exemplary damages under Chapter 41, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, if the employer is a private employer;

(3)  court costs; and

(4)  reasonable attorney's fees.

(e)  In addition to amounts recovered under Subsection (d), a plaintiff who prevails in a suit under this section is entitled to:

(1)  reinstatement to the person's former position or a position that is comparable in terms of compensation, benefits, and other conditions of employment;

(2)  reinstatement of any fringe benefits and seniority rights lost because of the suspension, termination, or discrimination; and

(3)  compensation for wages lost during the period of suspension or termination.

(f)  A public employee who alleges a violation of this section may sue the employing state or local governmental entity for the relief provided for by this section. Sovereign immunity is waived and abolished to the extent of liability created by this section. A person having a claim under this section may sue a governmental unit for damages allowed by this section.

(g)  In a suit under this section against an employing state or local governmental entity, a plaintiff may not recover compensatory damages for future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses in an amount that exceeds:

(1)  $50,000, if the employing state or local governmental entity has fewer than 101 employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed or in the preceding year;

(2)  $100,000, if the employing state or local governmental entity has more than 100 and fewer than 201 employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed or in the preceding year;

(3)  $200,000, if the employing state or local governmental entity has more than 200 and fewer than 501 employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed or in the preceding year; and

(4)  $250,000, if the employing state or local governmental entity has more than 500 employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed or in the preceding year.

(h)  If more than one subdivision of Subsection (g) applies to an employing state or local governmental entity, the amount of monetary damages that may be recovered from the entity in a suit brought under this section is governed by the applicable provision that provides the highest damage award.

(i)  A plaintiff suing under this section has the burden of proof, except that there is a rebuttable presumption that the plaintiff's employment was suspended or terminated or that the plaintiff was otherwise discriminated against for reporting abuse or neglect if the suspension, termination, or discrimination occurs before the 61st day after the date on which the person made a report in good faith.

(j)  A suit under this section may be brought in a district or county court of the county in which:

(1)  the plaintiff was employed by the defendant; or

(2)  the defendant conducts business.

(k)  It is an affirmative defense to a suit under Subsection (b) that an employer would have taken the action against the employee that forms the basis of the suit based solely on information, observation, or evidence that is not related to the fact that the employee reported child abuse or neglect or initiated or cooperated with an investigation or proceeding relating to an allegation of child abuse or neglect.

(l)  A public employee who has a cause of action under Chapter 554, Government Code, based on conduct described by Subsection (b) may not bring an action based on that conduct under this section.

(m)  This section does not apply to a person who reports the person's own abuse or neglect of a child or who initiates or cooperates with an investigation or proceeding by a governmental entity relating to an allegation of the person's own abuse or neglect of a child.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 896, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.



Section  261.111.  Refusal Of Psychiatric Or Psychological Treatment Of Child.

(a) In this section, "psychotropic drug" means a substance that is:

(1)  used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease or as a component of a medication; and

(2)  intended to have an altering effect on perception, emotion, or behavior.

(b)  The refusal of a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of a child to administer or consent to the administration of a psychotropic drug to the child, or to consent to any other psychiatric or psychological treatment of the child, does not by itself constitute neglect of the child unless the refusal to consent:

(1)  presents a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury to the child; or

(2)  has resulted in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1008, Sec. 3, eff. June 20, 2003.



Subchapter C. Confidentiality And Privileged Communication

Section  261.201.  Confidentiality And Disclosure Of Information.

(a) Except as provided by Section 261.203, the following information is confidential, is not subject to public release under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with this code and applicable federal or state law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:

(1)  a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the person making the report; and

(2)  except as otherwise provided in this section, the files, reports, records, communications, audiotapes, videotapes, and working papers used or developed in an investigation under this chapter or in providing services as a result of an investigation.

(b)  A court may order the disclosure of information that is confidential under this section if:

(1)  a motion has been filed with the court requesting the release of the information;

(2)  a notice of hearing has been served on the investigating agency and all other interested parties; and

(3)  after hearing and an in camera review of the requested information, the court determines that the disclosure of the requested information is:

(A)  essential to the administration of justice; and

(B)  not likely to endanger the life or safety of:

(i)  a child who is the subject of the report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect;

(ii)  a person who makes a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect; or

(iii)  any other person who participates in an investigation of reported abuse or neglect or who provides care for the child.

(b-1)  On a motion of one of the parties in a contested case before an administrative law judge relating to the license or certification of a professional, as defined by Section 261.101(b), or an educator, as defined by Section 5.001, Education Code, the administrative law judge may order the disclosure of information that is confidential under this section that relates to the matter before the administrative law judge after a hearing for which notice is provided as required by Subsection (b)(2) and making the review and determination required by Subsection (b)(3).  Before the department may release information under this subsection, the department must edit the information to protect the confidentiality of the identity of any person who makes a report of abuse or neglect.

(c)  In addition to Subsection (b), a court, on its own motion, may order disclosure of information that is confidential under this section if:

(1)  the order is rendered at a hearing for which all parties have been given notice;

(2)  the court finds that disclosure of the information is:

(A)  essential to the administration of justice; and

(B)  not likely to endanger the life or safety of:

(i)  a child who is the subject of the report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect;

(ii)  a person who makes a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect; or

(iii)  any other person who participates in an investigation of reported abuse or neglect or who provides care for the child; and

(3)  the order is reduced to writing or made on the record in open court.

(d)  The adoptive parents of a child who was the subject of an investigation and an adult who was the subject of an investigation as a child are entitled to examine and make copies of any report, record, working paper, or other information in the possession, custody, or control of the state that pertains to the history of the child. The department may edit the documents to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential, unless this information is already known to the adoptive parents or is readily available through other sources, including the court records of a suit to terminate the parent-child relationship under Chapter 161.

(e)  Before placing a child who was the subject of an investigation, the department shall notify the prospective adoptive parents of their right to examine any report, record, working paper, or other information in the possession, custody, or control of the state that pertains to the history of the child.

(f)  The department shall provide prospective adoptive parents an opportunity to examine information under this section as early as practicable before placing a child.

(f-1)  The department shall provide to a relative or other individual with whom a child is placed any information the department considers necessary to ensure that the relative or other individual is prepared to meet the needs of the child.  The information required by this subsection may include information related to any abuse or neglect suffered by the child.

(g)  Notwithstanding Subsection (b), the department, on request and subject to department rule, shall provide to the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child who is the subject of reported abuse or neglect information concerning the reported abuse or neglect that would otherwise be confidential under this section if the department has edited the information to protect the confidentiality of the identity of the person who made the report and any other person whose life or safety may be endangered by the disclosure.

(h)  This section does not apply to an investigation of child abuse or neglect in a home or facility regulated under Chapter 42, Human Resources Code.

(i)  Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the Texas Youth Commission shall release a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter if:

(1)  the report relates to a report of abuse or neglect involving a child committed to the commission during the period that the child is committed to the commission; and

(2)  the commission is not prohibited by Chapter 552, Government Code, or other law from disclosing the report.

(j)  The Texas Youth Commission shall edit any report disclosed under Subsection (i) to protect the identity of:

(1)  a child who is the subject of the report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect;

(2)  the person who made the report; and

(3)  any other person whose life or safety may be endangered by the disclosure.

(k)  Notwithstanding Subsection (a), an investigating agency, other than the department or the Texas Youth Commission, on request, shall provide to the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child who is the subject of reported abuse or neglect, or to the child if the child is at least 18 years of age, information concerning the reported abuse or neglect that would otherwise be confidential under this section.  The investigating agency shall withhold information under this subsection if the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of the child requesting the information is alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect.

(l)  Before a child or a parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child may inspect or copy a record or file concerning the child under Subsection (k), the custodian of the record or file must redact:

(1)  any personally identifiable information about a victim or witness under 18 years of age unless that victim or witness is:

(A)  the child who is the subject of the report; or

(B)  another child of the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative requesting the information;

(2)  any information that is excepted from required disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or other law; and

(3)  the identity of the person who made the report.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 93, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 12, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 69, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 22, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 68, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.15, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 263, Sec. 12, eff. June 8, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 713, Sec. 1, eff. June 19, 2009.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 779, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1377, Sec. 13, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  261.202.  Privileged Communication.

In a proceeding regarding the abuse or neglect of a child, evidence may not be excluded on the ground of privileged communication except in the case of communications between an attorney and client.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.



Section 261.203.  Information Relating To Child Fatality.

(a) Not later than the fifth day after the date the department receives a request for information about a child fatality with respect to which the department is conducting an investigation of alleged abuse or neglect, the department shall release:

(1)  the age and sex of the child;

(2)  the date of death;

(3)  whether the state was the managing conservator of the child at the time of the child's death; and

(4)  whether the child resided with the child's parent, managing conservator, guardian, or other person entitled to possession of the child at the time of the child's death.

(b)  If, after a child abuse or neglect investigation is completed, the department determines a child's death was caused by abuse or neglect, the department shall promptly release the following information on request:

(1)  the information described by Subsection (a), if not previously released to the person requesting the information;

(2)  for cases in which the child's death occurred while the child was living with the child's parent, managing conservator, guardian, or other person entitled to possession of the child:

(A)  a summary of any previous reports of abuse or neglect of the deceased child or another child made while the child was living with that parent, managing conservator, guardian, or other person entitled to possession of the child;

(B)  the disposition of any report under Paragraph (A);

(C)  a description of the services, if any, that were provided by the department to the child or the child's family as a result of any report under Paragraph (A); and

(D)  the results of any risk or safety assessment completed by the department relating to the deceased child; and

(3)  for a case in which the child's death occurred while the child was in substitute care with the department or with a residential child-care provider regulated under Chapter 42, Human Resources Code, the following information:

(A)  the date the substitute care provider with whom the child was residing at the time of death was licensed or verified;

(B)  a summary of any previous reports of abuse or neglect investigated by the department relating to the substitute care provider, including the disposition of any investigation resulting from a report;

(C)  any reported licensing violations, including notice of any action taken by the department regarding a violation; and

(D)  records of any training completed by the substitute care provider while the child was placed with the provider.

(c)  If the department is unable to release the information required by Subsection (b) before the 11th day after the date the department receives a request for the information or the date the investigation of the child fatality is completed, whichever is later, the department shall inform the person requesting the information of the date the department will release the information.

(d)  After receiving a request for information required by Subsection (b), the department shall notify and provide a copy of the request to the attorney ad litem for the deceased child, if any.

(e)  Before the department releases any information under Subsection (b), the department shall redact from the records any information the release of which would:

(1)  identify:

(A)  the individual who reported the abuse or neglect; or

(B)  any other individual other than the deceased child or an alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect;

(2)  jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution;

(3)  endanger the life or safety of any individual; or

(4)  violate other state or federal law.

(f)  The executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission shall adopt rules to implement this section.

Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 779, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2009.



Subchapter D. Investigations

Section  261.301.  Investigation Of Report.

(a) With assistance from the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency as provided by this section, the department or designated agency shall make a prompt and thorough investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect allegedly committed by a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare.  The investigation shall be conducted without regard to any pending suit affecting the parent-child relationship.

(b)  A state agency shall investigate a report that alleges abuse or neglect occurred in a facility operated, licensed, certified, or registered by that agency as provided by Subchapter E. In conducting an investigation for a facility operated, licensed, certified, registered, or listed by the department, the department shall perform the investigation as provided by:

(1)  Subchapter E; and

(2)  the Human Resources Code.

(c)  The department is not required to investigate a report that alleges child abuse or neglect by a person other than a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare. The appropriate state or local law enforcement agency shall investigate that report if the agency determines an investigation should be conducted.

(d)  The department shall by rule assign priorities and prescribe investigative procedures for investigations based on the severity and immediacy of the alleged harm to the child.  The primary purpose of the investigation shall be the protection of the child.  The rules must require the department, subject to the availability of funds, to:

(1)  immediately respond to a report of abuse and neglect that involves circumstances in which the death of the child or substantial bodily harm to the child would result unless the department immediately intervenes;

(2)  respond within 24 hours to a report of abuse and neglect that is assigned the highest priority, other than a report described by Subdivision (1); and

(3)  respond within 72 hours to a report of abuse and neglect that is assigned the second highest priority.

(e)  As necessary to provide for the protection of the child, the department or designated agency shall determine:

(1)  the nature, extent, and cause of the abuse or neglect;

(2)  the identity of the person responsible for the abuse or neglect;

(3)  the names and conditions of the other children in the home;

(4)  an evaluation of the parents or persons responsible for the care of the child;

(5)  the adequacy of the home environment;

(6)  the relationship of the child to the persons responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child; and

(7)  all other pertinent data.

(f)  An investigation of a report to the department that alleges that a child has been or may be the victim of conduct that constitutes a criminal offense that poses an immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse of a child that could result in the death of or serious harm to the child shall be conducted jointly by a peace officer, as defined by Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure, from the appropriate local law enforcement agency and the department or the agency responsible for conducting an investigation under Subchapter E.

(g)  The inability or unwillingness of a local law enforcement agency to conduct a joint investigation under this section does not constitute grounds to prevent or prohibit the department from performing its duties under this subtitle.  The department shall document any instance in which a law enforcement agency is unable or unwilling to conduct a joint investigation under this section.

(h)  The department and the appropriate local law enforcement agency shall conduct an investigation, other than an investigation under Subchapter E, as provided by this section and Article 2.27, Code of Criminal Procedure, if the investigation is of a report that alleges that a child has been or may be the victim of conduct that constitutes a criminal offense that poses an immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse of a child that could result in the death of or serious harm to the child.  Immediately on receipt of a report described by this subsection, the department shall notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency of the report.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 94, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 943, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 70, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1137, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 23, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 867, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.16(a), eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3011.  Joint Investigation Guidelines And Training. (a

) The department shall, in consultation with the appropriate law enforcement agencies, develop guidelines and protocols for joint investigations by the department and the law enforcement agency under Section 261.301.  The guidelines and protocols must:

(1)  clarify the respective roles of the department and law enforcement agency in conducting the investigation;

(2)  require that mutual child protective services and law enforcement training and agreements be implemented by both entities to ensure the integrity and best outcomes of joint investigations; and

(3)  incorporate the use of forensic methods in determining the occurrence of child abuse and neglect.

(b)  The department shall collaborate with law enforcement agencies to provide to department investigators and law enforcement officers responsible for investigating reports of abuse and neglect joint training relating to methods to effectively conduct joint investigations under Section 261.301.  The training must include information on interviewing techniques, evidence gathering, and testifying in court for criminal investigations, as well as instruction on rights provided by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.17, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3012.  Completion Of Paperwork.

An employee of the department who responds to a report that is assigned the highest priority in accordance with department rules adopted under Section 261.301(d) shall identify, to the extent reasonable under the circumstances, forms and other paperwork that can be completed by members of the family of the child who is the subject of the report.  The department employee shall request the assistance of the child's family members in completing that documentation but remains responsible for ensuring that the documentation is completed in an appropriate manner.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 55, Sec. 1, eff. May 17, 2005.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.18, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.3015.  Flexible Response System.

(a) In assigning priorities and prescribing investigative procedures based on the severity and immediacy of the alleged harm to a child under Section 261.301(d), the department shall establish a flexible response system to allow the department to make the most effective use of resources by investigating serious cases of abuse and neglect and by screening out less serious cases of abuse and neglect if the department determines, after contacting a professional or other credible source, that the child's safety can be assured without further investigation.  The department may administratively close the less serious cases without providing services or making a referral to another entity for assistance.

(a-1)  For purposes of Subsection (a), a case is considered to be a less serious case of abuse or neglect if the circumstances of the case do not indicate an immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in the death of or serious harm to the child who is the subject of the case.

(b)  The classification under the flexible response system of a case may be changed as warranted by the circumstances.

(c)  The department may implement the flexible response system by establishing a pilot program in a single department service region. The department shall study the results of the system in the region in determining the method by which to implement the system statewide.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 71, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.19(a), eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3016.  Training Of Personnel Receiving Reports Of Abuse And Neglect.

The department shall develop, in cooperation with local law enforcement officials and the Commission on State Emergency Communications, a training program for department personnel who receive reports of abuse and neglect.  The training program must include information on:

(1)  the proper methods of screening reports of abuse and neglect; and

(2)  ways to determine the seriousness of a report, including determining whether a report alleges circumstances that could result in the death of or serious harm to a child or whether the report is less serious in nature.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 54, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.20, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.302.  Conduct Of Investigation.

(a) The investigation may include:

(1)  a visit to the child's home, unless the alleged abuse or neglect can be confirmed or clearly ruled out without a home visit; and

(2)  an interview with and examination of the subject child, which may include a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination.

(b)  The interview with and examination of the child may:

(1)  be conducted at any reasonable time and place, including the child's home or the child's school;

(2)  include the presence of persons the department or designated agency determines are necessary; and

(3)  include transporting the child for purposes relating to the interview or investigation.

(b-1)  Before the department may transport a child as provided by Subsection (b)(3), the department shall attempt to notify the parent or other person having custody of the child of the transport.

(c)  The investigation may include an interview with the child's parents and an interview with and medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of any child in the home.

(d)  If, before an investigation is completed, the investigating agency believes that the immediate removal of a child from the child's home is necessary to protect the child from further abuse or neglect, the investigating agency shall file a petition or take other action under Chapter 262 to provide for the temporary care and protection of the child.

(e)  An interview with a child conducted by the department during the investigation stage shall be audiotaped or videotaped.  An interview with a child alleged to be a victim of physical abuse or sexual abuse conducted by an investigating agency other than the department shall be audiotaped or videotaped unless the investigating agency determines that good cause exists for not audiotaping or videotaping the interview in accordance with rules of the agency.  Good cause may include, but is not limited to, such considerations as the age of the child and the nature and seriousness of the allegations under investigation.  Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as prohibiting the investigating agency from audiotaping or videotaping an interview of a child on any case for which such audiotaping or videotaping is not required under this subsection.  The fact that the investigating agency failed to audiotape or videotape an interview is admissible at the trial of the offense that is the subject of the interview.

(f)  A person commits an offense if the person is notified of the time of the transport of a child by the department and the location from which the transport is initiated and the person is present at the location when the transport is initiated and attempts to interfere with the department's investigation.  An offense under this subsection is a Class B misdemeanor.  It is an exception to the application of this subsection that the department requested the person to be present at the site of the transport.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 95, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 13, 14, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 73, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.21, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3021.  Casework Documentation And Management.

Subject to the appropriation of money for these purposes, the department shall:

(1)  identify critical investigation actions that impact child safety and require department caseworkers to document those actions in a child's case file not later than the day after the action occurs;

(2)  identify and develop a comprehensive set of casework quality indicators that must be reported in real time to support timely management oversight;

(3)  provide department supervisors with access to casework quality indicators and train department supervisors on the use of that information in the daily supervision of caseworkers;

(4)  develop a case tracking system that notifies department supervisors and management when a case is not progressing in a timely manner;

(5)  use current data reporting systems to provide department supervisors and management with easier access to information; and

(6)  train department supervisors and management on the use of data to monitor cases and make decisions.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.22, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3022.  Child Safety Check Alert List.

(a) Subject to the availability of funds, the Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas shall create a child safety check alert list as part of the Texas Crime Information Center to help locate a family for purposes of investigating a report of child abuse or neglect.

(b)  If the child safety check alert list is established and the department is unable to locate a family for purposes of investigating a report of child abuse or neglect, after the department has exhausted all means available to the department for locating the family, the department may seek assistance under this section from the appropriate county attorney, district attorney, or criminal district attorney with responsibility for representing the department as provided by Section 264.009.

(c)  If the department requests assistance, the county attorney, district attorney, or criminal district attorney, as applicable, may file an application with the court requesting the issuance of an ex parte order requiring the Texas Crime Information Center to place the members of the family the department is attempting to locate on a child safety check alert list.  The application must include a summary of:

(1)  the report of child abuse or neglect the department is attempting to investigate; and

(2)  the department's efforts to locate the family.

(d)  If the court determines after a hearing that the department has exhausted all means available to the department for locating the family, the court shall approve the application and order the appropriate law enforcement agency to notify the Texas Crime Information Center to place the family on a child safety check alert list.  The alert list must include:

(1)  the name of the family member alleged to have abused or neglected a child according to the report the department is attempting to investigate;

(2)  the name of the child who is the subject of the report;

(3)  a code identifying the type of child abuse or neglect alleged to have been committed against the child;

(4)  the family's last known address; and

(5)  the minimum criteria for an entry as established by the center.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.22, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3023.  Law Enforcement Response To Child Safety Check Alert.

(a) If a law enforcement officer encounters a person listed on the Texas Crime Information Center's child safety check alert list who is alleged to have abused or neglected a child, or encounters a child listed on the alert list who is the subject of a report of child abuse or neglect the department is attempting to investigate, the officer shall request information from the person or the child regarding the child's well-being and current residence.

(b)  If the law enforcement officer determines that the circumstances described by Section 262.104 exist, the officer may take possession of the child without a court order as authorized by that section if the officer is able to locate the child.  If the circumstances described by Section 262.104 do not exist, the officer shall obtain the child's current address and any other relevant information and report that information to the department.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.22, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3024.  Removal From Child Safety Check Alert List.

(a) A law enforcement officer who locates a child listed on the Texas Crime Information Center's child safety check alert list who is the subject of a report of child abuse or neglect the department is attempting to investigate and who reports the child's current address and other relevant information to the department under Section 261.3023 shall report to the Texas Crime Information Center that the child has been located.

(b)  If the department locates a child described by Subsection (a) through a means other than information reported by a law enforcement officer under Subsection (a), the department shall report to the Texas Crime Information Center that the child has been located.

(c)  On receipt of notice under this section that a child has been located, the Texas Crime Information Center shall remove the child and the child's family from the child safety check alert list.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.22, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.303.  Interference With Investigation; Court Order.

(a) A person may not interfere with an investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect conducted by the department or designated agency.

(b)  If admission to the home, school, or any place where the child may be cannot be obtained, then for good cause shown the court having family law jurisdiction shall order the parent, the person responsible for the care of the children, or the person in charge of any place where the child may be to allow entrance for the interview, examination, and investigation.

(c)  If a parent or person responsible for the child's care does not consent to release of the child's prior medical, psychological, or psychiatric records or to a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of the child that is requested by the department or designated agency, the court having family law jurisdiction shall, for good cause shown, order the records to be released or the examination to be made at the times and places designated by the court.

(d)  A person, including a medical facility, that makes a report under Subchapter B shall release to the department or designated agency, as part of the required report under Section 261.103, records that directly relate to the suspected abuse or neglect without requiring parental consent or a court order.  If a child is transferred from a reporting medical facility to another medical facility to treat the injury or condition that formed the basis for the original report, the transferee medical facility shall, at the department's request, release to the department records relating to the injury or condition without requiring parental consent or a court order.

(e)  A person, including a utility company, that has confidential locating or identifying information regarding a family that is the subject of an investigation under this chapter shall release that information to the department on request.  The release of information to the department as required by this subsection by a person, including a utility company, is not subject to Section 552.352, Government Code, or any other law providing liability for the release of confidential information.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 96, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 24, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1406, Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2007.



Section 261.3031.  Failure To Cooperate With Investigation; Department Response. (a)

If a parent or other person refuses to cooperate with the department's investigation of the alleged abuse or neglect of a child and the refusal poses a risk to the child's safety, the department shall seek assistance from the appropriate county attorney or district attorney or criminal district attorney with responsibility for representing the department as provided by Section 264.009 to obtain a court order as described by Section 261.303.

(b)  A person's failure to report to an agency authorized to investigate abuse or neglect of a child within a reasonable time after receiving proper notice constitutes a refusal by the person to cooperate with the department's investigation.  A summons may be issued to locate the person.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.23, eff. September 1, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1406, Sec. 7, eff. September 1, 2007.



Section 261.3032.  Interference With Investigation; Criminal Penalty.

(a) A person commits an offense if, with the intent to interfere with the department's investigation of a report of abuse or neglect of a child, the person relocates the person's residence, either temporarily or permanently, without notifying the department of the address of the person's new residence or conceals the child and the person's relocation or concealment interferes with the department's investigation.

(b)  An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

(c)  If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section or the other law.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.24, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.304.  Investigation Of Anonymous Report.

(a) If the department receives an anonymous report of child abuse or neglect by a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare, the department shall conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether there is any evidence to corroborate the report.

(b)  An investigation under this section may include a visit to the child's home and an interview with and examination of the child and an interview with the child's parents. In addition, the department may interview any other person the department believes may have relevant information.

(c)  Unless the department determines that there is some evidence to corroborate the report of abuse, the department may not conduct the thorough investigation required by this chapter or take any action against the person accused of abuse.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.



Section  261.305.  Access To Mental Health Records.

(a) An investigation may include an inquiry into the possibility that a parent or a person responsible for the care of a child who is the subject of a report under Subchapter B has a history of medical or mental illness.

(b)  If the parent or person does not consent to an examination or allow the department or designated agency to have access to medical or mental health records requested by the department or agency, the court having family law jurisdiction, for good cause shown, shall order the examination to be made or that the department or agency be permitted to have access to the records under terms and conditions prescribed by the court.

(c)  If the court determines that the parent or person is indigent, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the parent or person at the hearing. The fees for the appointed attorney shall be paid as provided by Chapter 107.

(d)  A parent or person responsible for the child's care is entitled to notice and a hearing when the department or designated agency seeks a court order to allow a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination or access to medical or mental health records.

(e)  This access does not constitute a waiver of confidentiality.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 15, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 25, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.



Section  261.306.  Removal Of Child From State.

(a) If the department or designated agency has reason to believe that a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child may remove the child from the state before the investigation is completed, the department or designated agency may file an application for a temporary restraining order in a district court without regard to continuing jurisdiction of the child as provided in Chapter 155.

(b)  The court may render a temporary restraining order prohibiting the person from removing the child from the state pending completion of the investigation if the court:

(1)  finds that the department or designated agency has probable cause to conduct the investigation; and

(2)  has reason to believe that the person may remove the child from the state.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.



Section 261.307.  Information Relating To Investigation Procedure.

(a) As soon as possible after initiating an investigation of a parent or other person having legal custody of a child, the department shall provide to the person:

(1)  a summary that:

(A)  is brief and easily understood;

(B)  is written in a language that the person understands, or if the person is illiterate, is read to the person in a language that the person understands; and

(C)  contains the following information:

(i)  the department's procedures for conducting an investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect, including:

(a)  a description of the circumstances under which the department would request to remove the child from the home through the judicial system; and

(b)  an explanation that the law requires the department to refer all reports of alleged child abuse or neglect to a law enforcement agency for a separate determination of whether a criminal violation occurred;

(ii)  the person's right to file a complaint with the department or to request a review of the findings made by the department in the investigation;

(iii)  the person's right to review all records of the investigation unless the review would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation or the child's safety;

(iv)  the person's right to seek legal counsel;

(v)  references to the statutory and regulatory provisions governing child abuse and neglect and how the person may obtain copies of those provisions; and

(vi)  the process the person may use to acquire access to the child if the child is removed from the home;

(2)  if the department determines that removal of the child may be warranted, a proposed child placement resources form that:

(A)  instructs the parent or other person having legal custody of the child to:

(i)  complete and return the form to the department or agency; and

(ii)  identify in the form three individuals who could be relative caregivers or designated caregivers, as those terms are defined by Section 264.751; and

(B)  informs the parent or other person of a location that is available to the parent or other person to submit the information in the form 24 hours a day either in person or by facsimile machine or e-mail; and

(3)  an informational manual required by Section 261.3071.

(b)  The child placement resources form described by Subsection (a)(2) must include information on the periods of time by which the department must complete a background check.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.25(a), eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3071.  Informational Manuals.

(a) In this section:

(1)  "Designated caregiver" and "relative caregiver" have the meanings assigned those terms by Section 264.751.

(2)  "Voluntary caregiver" means a person who voluntarily agrees to provide temporary care for a child:

(A)  who is the subject of an investigation by the department or whose parent, managing conservator, possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker, or custodian is receiving family-based safety services from the department;

(B)  who is not in the conservatorship of the department; and

(C)  who is placed in the care of the person by the parent or other person having legal custody of the child.

(b)  The department shall develop and publish informational manuals that provide information for:

(1)  a parent or other person having custody of a child who is the subject of an investigation under this chapter;

(2)  a person who is selected by the department to be the child's relative or designated caregiver; and

(3)  a voluntary caregiver.

(c)  Information provided in the manuals must be in both English and Spanish and must include, as appropriate:

(1)  useful indexes of information such as telephone numbers;

(2)  the information required to be provided under Section 261.307(a)(1);

(3)  information describing the rights and duties of a relative or designated caregiver;

(4)  information regarding the relative and other designated caregiver program under Subchapter I, Chapter 264; and

(5)  information regarding the role of a voluntary caregiver, including information on how to obtain any documentation necessary to provide for a child's needs.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.26, eff. September 1, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 825, Sec. 1, eff. June 19, 2009.



Section  261.308.  Submission Of Investigation Report.

(a) The department or designated agency shall make a complete written report of the investigation.

(b)  If sufficient grounds for filing a suit exist, the department or designated agency shall submit the report, together with recommendations, to the court, the district attorney, and the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(c)  On receipt of the report and recommendations, the court may direct the department or designated agency to file a petition requesting appropriate relief as provided in this title.

(d)  The department shall release information regarding a person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect to persons who have control over the person's access to children, including, as appropriate, the Texas Education Agency, the State Board for Educator Certification, the local school board or the school's governing body, the superintendent of the school district, or the school principal or director if the department determines that:

(1)  the person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect poses a substantial and immediate risk of harm to one or more children outside the family of a child who is the subject of the investigation; and

(2)  the release of the information is necessary to assist in protecting one or more children from the person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect.

(e)  On request, the department shall release information about a person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect to the State Board for Educator Certification if the board has a reasonable basis for believing that the information is necessary to assist the board in protecting children from the person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 97, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1372, Sec. 13, eff. June 15, 2007.



Section  261.309.  Review Of Department Investigations.

(a) The department shall by rule establish policies and procedures to resolve complaints relating to and conduct reviews of child abuse or neglect investigations conducted by the department.

(b)  If a person under investigation for allegedly abusing or neglecting a child requests clarification of the status of the person's case or files a complaint relating to the conduct of the department's staff or to department policy, the department shall conduct an informal review to clarify the person's status or resolve the complaint. The immediate supervisor of the employee who conducted the child abuse or neglect investigation or against whom the complaint was filed shall conduct the informal review as soon as possible but not later than the 14th day after the date the request or complaint is received.

(c)  If, after the department's investigation, the person who is alleged to have abused or neglected a child disputes the department's determination of whether child abuse or neglect occurred, the person may request an administrative review of the findings. A department employee in administration who was not involved in or did not directly supervise the investigation shall conduct the review. The review must sustain, alter, or reverse the department's original findings in the investigation.

(d)  Unless a civil or criminal court proceeding or an ongoing criminal investigation relating to the alleged abuse or neglect investigated by the department is pending, the department employee shall conduct the review prescribed by Subsection (c) as soon as possible but not later than the 45th day after the date the department receives the request. If a civil or criminal court proceeding or an ongoing criminal investigation is pending, the department may postpone the review until the court proceeding is completed.

(e)  A person is not required to exhaust the remedies provided by this section before pursuing a judicial remedy provided by law.

(f)  This section does not provide for a review of an order rendered by a court.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.



Section  261.310.  Investigation Standards.

(a) The department shall by rule develop and adopt standards for persons who investigate suspected child abuse or neglect at the state or local level.  The standards shall encourage professionalism and consistency in the investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect.

(b)  The standards must provide for a minimum number of hours of annual professional training for interviewers and investigators of suspected child abuse or neglect.

(c)  The professional training curriculum developed under this section shall include:

(1)  information concerning:

(A)  physical abuse and neglect, including distinguishing physical abuse from ordinary childhood injuries;

(B)  psychological abuse and neglect;

(C)  available treatment resources; and

(D)  the incidence and types of reports of child abuse and neglect that are received by the investigating agencies, including information concerning false reports;

(2)  law-enforcement-style training, including training relating to forensic interviewing and investigatory techniques and the collection of physical evidence; and

(3)  training regarding applicable federal law, including the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Pub. L. No. 105-89) and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Pub. L. No. 93-247) and its subsequent amendments by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (Pub. L. No. 108-36).

(d)  The standards shall:

(1)  recommend that videotaped and audiotaped interviews be uninterrupted;

(2)  recommend a maximum number of interviews with and examinations of a suspected victim;

(3)  provide procedures to preserve evidence, including the original recordings of the intake telephone calls, original notes, videotapes, and audiotapes, for one year; and

(4)  provide that an investigator of suspected child abuse or neglect make a reasonable effort to locate and inform each parent of a child of any report of abuse or neglect relating to the child.

(e)  The department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety, shall provide to the department's residential child-care facility licensing investigators advanced training in investigative protocols and techniques.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.27, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3101.  Forensic Investigation Support.

The department shall, subject to the availability of money:

(1)  employ or contract with medical and law enforcement professionals who shall be strategically placed throughout the state to provide forensic investigation support and to assist caseworkers with assessment decisions and intervention activities;

(2)  employ or contract with subject matter experts to serve as consultants to department caseworkers in all aspects of their duties; and

(3)  designate persons who shall act as liaisons within the department whose primary functions are to develop relationships with local law enforcement agencies and courts.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.28, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.311.  Notice Of Report.

(a) When during an investigation of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect a representative of the department or the designated agency conducts an interview with or an examination of a child, the department or designated agency shall make a reasonable effort before 24 hours after the time of the interview or examination to notify each parent of the child and the child's legal guardian, if one has been appointed, of the nature of the allegation and of the fact that the interview or examination was conducted.

(b)  If a report of suspected child abuse or neglect is administratively closed by the department or designated agency as a result of a preliminary investigation that did not include an interview or examination of the child, the department or designated agency shall make a reasonable effort before the expiration of 24 hours after the time the investigation is closed to notify each parent and legal guardian of the child of the disposition of the investigation.

(c)  The notice required by Subsection (a) or (b) is not required if the department or agency determines that the notice is likely to endanger the safety of the child who is the subject of the report, the person who made the report, or any other person who participates in the investigation of the report.

(d)  The notice required by Subsection (a) or (b) may be delayed at the request of a law enforcement agency if notification during the required time would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 74, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  261.312.  Review Teams; Offense.

(a) The department shall establish review teams to evaluate department casework and decision-making related to investigations by the department of child abuse or neglect. The department may create one or more review teams for each region of the department for child protective services. A review team is a citizen review panel or a similar entity for the purposes of federal law relating to a state's child protection standards.

(b)  A review team consists of at least five members who serve staggered two-year terms.  Review team members are appointed by the director of the department and consist of volunteers who live in and are broadly representative of the region in which the review team is established and have expertise in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.  At least two members of a review team must be parents who have not been convicted of or indicted for an offense involving child abuse or neglect, have not been determined by the department to have engaged in child abuse or neglect, and are not under investigation by the department for child abuse or neglect.  A member of a review team is a department volunteer for the purposes of Section 411.114, Government Code.

(c)  A review team conducting a review of an investigation may conduct the review by examining the facts of the case as outlined by the department caseworker and law enforcement personnel. A review team member acting in the member's official capacity may receive information made confidential under Section 40.005, Human Resources Code, or Section 261.201.

(d)  A review team shall report to the department the results of the team's review of an investigation. The review team's report may not include confidential information. The findings contained in a review team's report are subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code. This section does not require a law enforcement agency to divulge information to a review team that the agency believes would compromise an ongoing criminal case, investigation, or proceeding.

(e)  A member of a review team commits an offense if the member discloses confidential information. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 943, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 16, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1372, Sec. 3, eff. June 19, 2009.



Section 261.3125.  Child Safety Specialists.

(a) The department shall employ in each of the department's administrative regions at least one child safety specialist.  The job responsibilities of the child safety specialist must focus on child abuse and neglect investigation issues, including reports of child abuse required by Section 261.101, to achieve a greater compliance with that section, and on assessing and improving the effectiveness of the department in providing for the protection of children in the region.

(b)  The duties of a child safety specialist must include the duty to:

(1)  conduct staff reviews and evaluations of cases determined to involve a high risk to the health or safety of a child, including cases of abuse reported under Section 261.101, to ensure that risk assessment tools are fully and correctly used;

(2)  review and evaluate cases in which there have been multiple referrals to the department of child abuse or neglect involving the same family, child, or person alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect; and

(3)  approve decisions and assessments related to investigations of cases of child abuse or neglect that involve a high risk to the health or safety of a child.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1490, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.29, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section 261.3126.  Colocation Of Investigators.

(a) In each county, to the extent possible, the department and the local law enforcement agencies that investigate child abuse in the county shall colocate in the same offices investigators from the department and the law enforcement agencies to improve the efficiency of child abuse investigations.  With approval of the local children's advocacy center and its partner agencies, in each county in which a children's advocacy center established under Section 264.402 is located, the department shall attempt to locate investigators from the department and county and municipal law enforcement agencies at the center.

(b)  A law enforcement agency is not required to comply with the colocation requirements of this section if the law enforcement agency does not have a full-time peace officer solely assigned to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect.

(c)  If a county does not have a children's advocacy center, the department shall work with the local community to encourage one as provided by Section 264.402.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.30, eff. September 1, 2005.



Section  261.314.  Testing.

(a) The department shall provide testing as necessary for the welfare of a child who the department believes, after an investigation under this chapter, has been sexually abused, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing of a child who was abused in a manner by which HIV may be transmitted.

(b)  Except as provided by Subsection (c), the results of a test under this section are confidential.

(c)  If requested, the department shall report the results of a test under this section to:

(1)  a court having jurisdiction of a proceeding involving the child or a proceeding involving a person suspected of abusing the child;

(2)  a person responsible for the care and custody of the child as a foster parent; and

(3)  a person seeking to adopt the child.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 943, Sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.



Section  261.315.  Removal Of Certain Investigation Information From Records.

(a) At the conclusion of an investigation in which the department determines that the person alleged to have abused or neglected a child did not commit abuse or neglect, the department shall notify the person of the person's right to request the department to remove information about the person's alleged role in the abuse or neglect report from the department's records.

(b)  On request under Subsection (a) by a person whom the department has determined did not commit abuse or neglect, the department shall remove information from the department's records concerning the person's alleged role in the abuse or neglect report.

(c)  The board shall adopt rules necessary to administer this section.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 75, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  261.316.  Exemption From Fees For Medical Records.

The department is exempt from the payment of a fee otherwise required or authorized by law to obtain a medical record from a hospital or health care provider if the request for a record is made in the course of an investigation by the department.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 17, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Renumbered from Sec. 261.315 by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 19.01(27), eff. Sept. 1, 1999.



Subchapter E. Investigations Of Abuse, Neglect, Or Exploitation In Certain Facilities

Section  261.401.  Agency Investigation.

(a) Notwithstanding Section 261.001, in this section:

(1)  "Abuse" means an intentional, knowing, or reckless act or omission by an employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of a facility or program that causes or may cause emotional harm or physical injury to, or the death of, a child served by the facility or program as further described by rule or policy.

(2)  "Exploitation" means the illegal or improper use of a child or of the resources of a child for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain by an employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of a facility or program as further described by rule or policy.

(3)  "Neglect" means a negligent act or omission by an employee, volunteer, or other individual working under the auspices of a facility or program, including failure to comply with an individual treatment plan, plan of care, or individualized service plan, that causes or may cause substantial emotional harm or physical injury to, or the death of, a child served by the facility or program as further described by rule or policy.

(b)  Except as provided by Section 261.404, a state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, registers, or lists a facility in which children are located or provides oversight of a program that serves children shall make a prompt, thorough investigation of a report that a child has been or may be abused, neglected, or exploited in the facility or program.  The primary purpose of the investigation shall be the protection of the child.

(c)  A state agency shall adopt rules relating to the investigation and resolution of reports received as provided by this subchapter. The Health and Human Services Commission shall review and approve the rules of agencies other than the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Youth Commission, or Texas Juvenile Probation Commission to ensure that those agencies implement appropriate standards for the conduct of investigations and that uniformity exists among agencies in the investigation and resolution of reports.

(d)  The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Texas School for the Deaf shall adopt policies relating to the investigation and resolution of reports received as provided by this subchapter. The Health and Human Services Commission shall review and approve the policies to ensure that the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Texas School for the Deaf adopt those policies in a manner consistent with the minimum standards adopted by the Health and Human Services Commission under Section 261.407.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 98, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 355, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 908, Sec. 29, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 284, Sec. 6, eff. June 11, 2009.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 720, Sec. 18, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  261.402.  Investigative Reports.

(a) A state agency shall prepare and keep on file a complete written report of each investigation conducted by the agency under this subchapter.

(b)  A state agency shall immediately notify the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency of any report the agency receives, other than a report from a law enforcement agency, that concerns the suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child or the death of a child from abuse or neglect. If the state agency finds evidence indicating that a child may have been abused, neglected, or exploited, the agency shall report the evidence to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(c)  A state agency that licenses, certifies, or registers a facility in which children are located shall compile, maintain, and make available statistics on the incidence of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation in the facility.

(d)  A state agency shall compile, maintain, and make available statistics on the incidence of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation in a facility operated by the state agency.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 99, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 355, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.



Section  261.403.  Complaints.

(a) If a state agency receives a complaint relating to an investigation conducted by the agency concerning a facility operated by that agency in which children are located, the agency shall refer the complaint to the agency's board.

(b)  The board of a state agency that operates a facility in which children are located shall ensure that the procedure for investigating abuse, neglect, and exploitation allegations and inquiries in the agency's facility is periodically reviewed under the agency's internal audit program required by Chapter 2102, Government Code.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 355, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.



Section 261.404.  Investigations Regarding Certain Children With Mental Illness Or Mental Retardation.

(a) The department shall investigate a report of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child receiving services:

(1)  in a facility operated by the Department of Aging and Disability Services or a mental health facility operated by the Department of State Health Services;

(2)  in or from a community center, a local mental health authority, or a local mental retardation authority;

(3)  through a program providing services to that child by contract with a facility operated by the Department of Aging and Disability Services, a mental health facility operated by the Department of State Health Services, a community center, a local mental health authority, or a local mental retardation authority;

(4)  from a provider of home and community-based services who contracts with the Department of Aging and Disability Services; or

(5)  in a facility licensed under Chapter 252, Health and Safety Code.

(b)  The department shall investigate the report under rules developed by the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission with the advice and assistance of the department, the Department of Aging and Disability Services, and the Department of State Health Services.

(c)  If a report under this section relates to a child with mental retardation receiving services in a state supported living center or the ICF-MR component of the Rio Grande State Center, the department shall, within one hour of receiving the report, notify the facility in which the child is receiving services of the allegations in the report.

(d)  If during the course of the department's investigation of reported abuse, neglect, or exploitation a caseworker of the department or the caseworker's supervisor has cause to believe that a child with mental retardation described by Subsection (c) has been abused, neglected, or exploited by another person in a manner that constitutes a criminal offense under any law, including Section 22.04, Penal Code, the caseworker shall immediately notify the Health and Human Services Commission's office of inspector general and promptly provide the commission's office of inspector general with a copy of the department's investigation report.

(e)  The definitions of "abuse" and "neglect" prescribed by Section 261.001 do not apply to an investigation under this section.

(f)  In this section:

(1)  "Community center," "local mental health authority," "local mental retardation authority," and "state supported living center" have the meanings assigned by Section 531.002, Health and Safety Code.

(2)  "Provider" has the meaning assigned by Section 48.351, Human Resources Code.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 100, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 907, Sec. 39, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 284, Sec. 7, eff. June 11, 2009.



Section  261.405.  Investigations In Juvenile Justice Programs And Facilities.

(a) In this section:

(1)  "Juvenile justice facility" means a facility operated wholly or partly by the juvenile board, by another governmental unit, or by a private vendor under a contract with the juvenile board, county, or other governmental unit that serves juveniles under juvenile court jurisdiction.  The term includes:

(A)  a public or private juvenile pre-adjudication secure detention facility, including a holdover facility;

(B)  a public or private juvenile post-adjudication secure correctional facility except for a facility operated solely for children committed to the Texas Youth Commission;  and

(C)  a public or private non-secure juvenile post-adjudication residential treatment facility that is not licensed by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

(2)  "Juvenile justice program" means a program or department operated wholly or partly by the juvenile board or by a private vendor under a contract with a juvenile board that serves juveniles under juvenile court jurisdiction.  The term includes:

(A)  a juvenile justice alternative education program;

(B)  a non-residential program that serves juvenile offenders under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court; and

(C)  a juvenile probation department.

(b)  A report of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation in any juvenile justice program or facility shall be made to the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and a local law enforcement agency for investigation.

(c)  The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission shall conduct an investigation as provided by this chapter if the commission receives a report of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation in any juvenile justice program or facility.

(d)  In an investigation required under this section, the investigating agency shall have access to medical and mental health records as provided by Subchapter D.

(e)  As soon as practicable after a child is taken into custody or placed in a juvenile justice facility or juvenile justice program, the facility or program shall provide the child's parents with:

(1)  information regarding the reporting of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child in a juvenile justice facility or juvenile justice program to the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission; and

(2)  the commission's toll-free number for this reporting.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 100, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 162, Sec. 2; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1374, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 26, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1477, Sec. 26, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1297, Sec. 47, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 283, Sec. 29, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 949, Sec. 28, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 908, Sec. 30, eff. September 1, 2007.



Section  261.406.  Investigations In Schools.

(a) On receipt of a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect of a child in a public or private school under the jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency, the department shall perform an investigation as provided by this chapter.

(b)  The department shall send a copy of the completed report of the department's investigation to the Texas Education Agency, the State Board for Educator Certification, the local school board or the school's governing body, the superintendent of the school district, and the school principal or director, unless the principal or director is alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect, for appropriate action.  On request, the department shall provide a copy of the report of investigation to the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian of a child who is the subject of the investigation and to the person alleged to have committed the abuse or neglect.  The report of investigation shall be edited to protect the identity of the persons who made the report of abuse or neglect.  Other than the persons authorized by the section to receive a copy of the report, Section 261.201(b) applies to the release of the report relating to the investigation of abuse or neglect under this section and to the identity of the person who made the report of abuse or neglect.

(c)  Nothing in this section may prevent a law enforcement agency from conducting an investigation of a report made under this section.

(d)  The Board of Protective and Regulatory Services shall adopt rules necessary to implement this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 751, Sec. 100, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 575, Sec. 18, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1150, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, Sec. 27, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 213, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1372, Sec. 14, eff. June 15, 2007.



Section  261.407.  Minimum Standards.

(a) The Health and Human Services Commission by rule shall adopt minimum standards for the investigation under Section 261.401 of suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation in a facility.

(b)  A rule or policy adopted by a state agency or institution under Section 261.401 must be consistent with the minimum standards adopted by the Health and Human Services Commission.

(c)  This section does not apply to a facility under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Youth Commission, or Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 355, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.



Section  261.408.  Information Collection.

(a) The Health and Human Services Commission by rule shall adopt uniform procedures for collecting information under Section 261.401, including procedures for collecting information on deaths that occur in facilities.

(b)  The department shall receive and compile information on investigations in facilities. An agency submitting information to the department is responsible for ensuring the timeliness, accuracy, completeness, and retention of the agency's reports.

(c)  This section does not apply to a facility under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Youth Commission, or Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 355, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.



Section  261.409.  Investigations In Facilities Under Texas Youth Commission Jurisdiction.

The board of the Texas Youth Commission by rule shall adopt standards for:

(1)  the investigation under Section 261.401 of suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation in a facility under the jurisdiction of the Texas Youth Commission; and

(2)  compiling information on those investigations.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 355, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.



Section 261.410.  Report Of Abuse By Other Children.

(a) In this section:

(1)  "Physical abuse" means:

(A)  physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child requiring emergency medical treatment and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm; or

(B)  failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child.

(2)  "Sexual abuse" means:

(A)  sexual conduct harmful to a child's mental, emotional, or physical welfare; or

(B)  failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child.

(b)  An agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers a facility shall require a residential child-care facility to report each incident of physical or sexual abuse committed by a child against another child.

(c)  Using information received under Subsection (b), the agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers a facility shall, subject to the availability of funds, compile a report that includes information:

(1)  regarding the number of cases of physical and sexual abuse committed by a child against another child;

(2)  identifying the residential child-care facility;

(3)  regarding the date each allegation of abuse was made;

(4)  regarding the date each investigation was started and concluded;

(5)  regarding the findings and results of each investigation; and

(6)  regarding the number of children involved in each incident investigated.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268, Sec. 1.31, eff. September 1, 2005.


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