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| 1 minute read

New Texas Law Is an Important Advance for Family Protection

Texas recently passed a law designed to keep children from being removed from their families for less-than-serious neglect issues. Part of the law provides that a child cannot be removed from a home solely because "the parent allowed the child to engage in independent activities that are appropriate and typical for the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, developmental abilities, or culture." In other words, child protective services no longer should be concerned about parents who allow their older children to play without adult supervision.

A more significant change is the new definition of neglect. The law no longer defines neglect as "a substantial risk of immediate harm." Rather, authorities must show that the child is exposed to "an immediate danger." In other words, a parent's rights do not depend on what risks a law enforcement officer or child protection investigator can conjure from news reports. The government must show an actual immediate danger. This is a much more clear and objective standard, and a significant benefit to both parents and children.

Let's hope that more states take a long look at the actual trauma that children experience when authorities separate them from their families due to a risk of harm. The new Texas standard should provide a good standard for balancing actual harm to children from remaining in their home against the actual harm of being placed in foster care. There never will be a perfect balance, but at least clear and objective standards will get us much closer.

“There’s a whole lot in the bill but the biggest question about the immediate danger, are the children in danger or do you just not like the way they are being raised,” Frank said. “We have kids around the state being removed for things like their parent are smoking Marijuana and while that is illegal and I don’t advocate it, that is not neglect so bad that you should have a child removed in my opinion.”

Tags

child abuse, child neglect, child protection, youth serving organizations

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