An Open Letter to Children in the care of CPS in the 315th District Court (updated)

by blogjamdotorg

Children in Texas have rights. And a voice.

In addition to the many rights you have as a child in Texas, as a child in the care of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (also referred to as “TDFPS” or “CPS”) you have a unique set of rights.

In fact, Rule 748.1101 of the Texas Administrative Code lists many rights that are specifically guaranteed to children in the foster care system.

CPS lists them here.

In addition to those rights, it is important that you know that you have the right at all times to have your voice heard. In many cases, it is impossible for a court to determine what is in your best interest without direct, honest input from you.

How can your voice be heard?

First, you always have a right to communicate directly with the judges who will be making decisions in your case.

Second, you always have the right to have an attorney to explain the law to you and represent your legal interests–what you want or think you need–in court.

When you are ready to talk to a judge or seek the help of an attorney, contact your caseworker or call the court itself to make an appointment at (713) 222-4950. If you’d rather your foster parent or caseworker not know you wish to visit, that is ok! Email and other contact information is here.

Your visit will always be with the judge and a court reporter, and (but only if you so choose) a caseworker, foster parent, lawyer, or child advocate volunteer. If you’d feel more comfortable having a nice rescue dog present, we will make that happen too. Our dog Elsa would love to visit with you.

If you are a child in the care of CPS whose case is in the 315th District Court, you never need anyone’s permission to contact the court.

Here are additional contacts and their numbers:

  • The DFPS Texas Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
  • The HHSC Ombudsman for Children and Youth currently in Foster Care at 1-844-286-0769.
  • The DFPS Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-720-7777.
  • Disability Rights of Texas at 1-800-252-9108.

Since we began this website, hundreds of children like yourself have visited us. Many of you have changed the outcome of your case simply by telling us what you’d like–or by telling us about a problem you need solved.

The court looks forward to hearing from you (again).

–Judge Mike Schneider (Ret.)