Effective on September 1, 2021, the Texas Family Code has a new statute that requires the department (aka, “CPS”) to give a preference to certain persons when making a placement decision for a child. Here it is:
Now, this isn’t exactly “new”. The fact that it is now in the Texas Family Code is new; however, this prioritization list is the method that CPS has been operating off of for years. CPS has their own policies that they must follow in addition the statutes in the Texas Family Code. CPS has always prioritized placements in this regard. Still, there is a bit of ambiguity here (just like there always has been). What does “long-standing and significant relationship”? What if the “foster home” has had the child longer than any other “significant relationship”? What degree of blood relation is sufficient to say someone is “related to the child by blood”?
Also, it is worth noting that this placement preference is not binding on the Court. The statute says that only “the department shall give preference.” Just as before, Texas Judges have the ultimate discretion to go against this prioritization based on a finding of what is in the child’s “best interest.”