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House Interim Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues
Charge

Study adoption practices and determine the need for changes to promote the public interest.
Recommendations

  • Allow the court to order termination of a father's parental rights if the father was convicted of a rape or incest which resulted in the pregnancy.

  • Require judges to immediately hear petitions for termination of parental rights.

  • Allow termination of parental right petitions to be heard any time a court is in session.

  • Prohibit a direct or collateral attack on the validity of a termination order after six months.

  • Require the home study to be completed before a child is placed in a home, except in intra-family adoptions.

  • Consider transferring the voluntary adoption registries from the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services to the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

  • Prohibit all "Baby Wanted" advertising related to adoptions, except for licensed child placement agencies.
    Charge

    Review the comprehensive changes of the juvenile laws made by the 74th Legislature. The review should include recommendations to address: (a) new juvenile justice problems; (b) reports of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC), and Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council made pursuant to H.B. 327; and (c) errors, omissions, and conflicts in current law.
    Recommendations

    4 Continue funding for the construction and operation of 2,084 TYC beds in FY 97. Increase the funding to support the construction and operation of 400 more beds in FY 97.

  • Increase funding for implementation of the progressive sanctions model administered by the TJPC.

  • Increase funding to offset additional costs to counties which resulted from the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs (JJAEP).

  • Provide funds to counties for operating post-adjudication detention facilities.

  • Provide increased funding to allow expansion of Services to At-Risk Youth (STARS) services statewide.

  • Limit the requirement to provide STARS services to counties which have a provider available.

  • Designate funds to support the Criminal Justice Policy Council in performing ongoing evaluation of the STARS program and the Community Youth Development Grant Program.

  • Define first and second DWI offenses as delinquent conduct rather than conduct in need of supervision.

  • Authorize law enforcement to videotape a juvenile's statement and give warnings to the juveniles, if a magistrate could not be found conveniently.

  • Simplify the warning procedure and process.

  • Prohibit a juvenile who is a first-time misdemeanor offender or commits only a technical violation of misdemeanor probation from being committed to TYC.

  • Allow law enforcement agencies to keep a copy of information concerning a child (whose records are required to be destroyed after successful completion of a first-offender program) for the sole purpose of avoiding sentencing that child to a first offender program more than once.

  • Clarify laws regarding the retention, confidentiality, and destruction of a juvenile's records.

  • Clarify sentencing issues in the progressive sanctions model.

  • Limit the removal of a student to an alternative education program for "off campus" felony offenses to offenses involving violence, felony drug violations (other than those requiring expulsion), and weapons offenses.

  • Clearly define "serious or persistent misbehavior."

  • Clarify the placement and funding for the placement of students into a JJAEP.

  • Provide that JJAEP employees are immune from liability as are school district employees, and authorize graduation from a JJAEP.
    Charge

    Study methods to improve the collection and distribution of child support payments.
    Recommendations

    4 Move the child support function in the Office of the Attorney General to a free standing, independent agency called the Texas Family Support Commission, governed by a six-member board appointed by the governor with operations falling under an executive director named by the commission. This recommendation was made on a 4-3 vote of the committee.

  • Clarify several issues in the license suspension program for overdue child support.