Travis County Model Court

For Children and Families

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About Our Model Court

Started in September, 2008, the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families is a multidisciplinary community initiative to facilitate systemic improvement of the court and child welfare systems.  The work of this Model Court is focused on promoting successful outcomes for children and families in Travis County who are involved in civil suits filed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as a result of findings of child abuse and neglect.  This Model Court is part of a national network of similar model courts.  It is supported by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which provides organizational support and technical assistance.

Learn more about NCJFCJ

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Mission & Structure of Our Model Court

Mission Statement: To assure every child has a safe, permanent, healthy home and to be culturally responsive in supporting families, while ensuring systemic equity for both children and parents.

 

Structure: The Model Court has an Executive Committee led by a Lead Judge, who is currently Aurora Martinez Jones, of the 126th District Court of Travis County, which meets monthly. The Model Court also has a broader multidisciplinary Collaborative Council that includes representatives of the community, service providers for children and families, state and local agencies working with children and youth, former foster youth, legislative advocates, and others who are interested in improving outcomes for children and families, which meets quarterly.

Model Court Initiatives

Specific Model Court Committees have been formed to work on initiatives and these committees meet regularly to advance specific goals. Advocates working within the Model Court are welcome to join these committees. Each committee is supported by the Court.

For more information contact: CPS.CLE@traviscountytx.gov

Race Equity & Disproportionality

This committee's goal is to identify and eliminate various systemic factors that cause a disproportionate representation and disparate treatment of children and families of color in the child welfare system. This committee works on changing procedures to overcome policies that have created inequitable outcomes for children and families of color in the Travis County child welfare system.

Find Reports on Child Removals by Race and Ethnic Group at DFPS

Domestic Violence & CPS 

The Domestic Violence & CPS Committee works to improve court practices and decrease any harmful impact survivors of domestic violence may experience in the child welfare system. Additionally, this committee works to strengthen community collaborations and identify support services for families experiencing family violence.

Find support services and resources at SAFE

Pregnant & Parenting Foster Youth

Recent reports have shown that the pregnancy rate for Texas girls in foster care (ages 13-17) is five times higher than all Texas girls in that age range. This committee aims to reach the achievable goal of providing ample support for these foster youth, as well as for boys in foster care who are expecting or parting, and for all age appropriate foster youth to receive education to prevent pregnancy and promote healthy relationships. 

Find reports and more information at Texans Care for Children.

LGBTQ+ & CPS

According to a recent study, LGBTQ+ youth have disparities that are exacerbated by being in foster care or having unstable housing. In addition, many statewide policies continue to create more obstacles for LGBTQ+ foster youth and parents within the child welfare system. This committee strives to understand and improve policies and practices that can negatively affect LGBTQ+ youth and parents who are or may become involved in the child welfare system.

Find the report on LGBTQ foster youth at Children's Rights.

Model Court Programs

Through Model Court initiatives, independently functioning programs have been created to serve specialty populations within the Travis County child welfare system. The programs work to improve upon practices for serving specific populations and each of these programs are directly supported by the Court. The programs have their own collaborative teams focusing on the specialty populations and innovations within those programs.

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Contact: Amber Middleton Amber.Middleton@traviscountytx.gov

The Travis County Family Drug Treatment Court- Parenting In Recovery (TCFDTC-PIR) program was created to help parents with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) who are involved in a Termination of Parental Rights civil lawsuit filed by Child Protective Services in Travis County.

The goal of the TCFDTC-PIR program is to maintain children in the care of their parents while they begin the journey of recovery from their SUD and develop the skills and ability to parent their children safely. By focusing on support and accountability for the parents and their children, the TCFDTC-PIR program intends to stop the cycle of abuse and neglect that may adversely affect the mental health and well-being of the next generation.

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Crossover Program

For Dual Status Youth

Contact: April Morton April.Morton@traviscountytx.gov

The Dual Status Youth- Crossover Program supports families with a child involved in both the Juvenile Justice System and the Child Welfare System. The goal is to divert youth from staying in either system longer than necessary. In this unique court supported program, each dually involved youth is assisted by a Crossover Team consisting of a Juvenile Probation Officer, CPS Caseworker, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) serving as Guardian ad Litem, an Attorney ad Litem and a Juvenile Defense Attorney.

The Crossover Team also includes a collaboration of various child welfare and juvenile justice advocates that work together to improve and enhance the policies and procedures impacting dually involved youth and their families. The Crossover Program hosts regular trainings for their team and all stakeholders involved in the program in order to assure an alignment of practices and philosophies about the dynamic landscapes in the fields of juvenile justice and child welfare.

Model Court Updates