TITLE 1. ADMINISTRATION

PART 15. TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSION

CHAPTER 372. TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES AND SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

SUBCHAPTER F. BENEFITS

DIVISION 1. BENEFITS IN GENERAL

1 TAC §372.1513

The Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) proposes an amendment to §372.1513, concerning Availability of Monthly Benefits.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The purpose of the proposal is to comply with House Bill 1218, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019, which requires HHSC to distribute Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits across a 28-day period for new SNAP households certified on or after September 1, 2020.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

The proposed amendment to §372.1513 changes the distribution schedule, making SNAP benefits available during the first 28 days of the month rather than the first 15 days. The amendment also clarifies that TANF benefits are available during the first 3 days of the month and removes the correlated SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) distribution schedules.

FISCAL NOTE

Trey Wood, Acting Deputy Executive Commissioner for Financial Services, has determined that for the first fiscal year that the rule will be in effect, there will be an estimated additional cost to state government as a result of enforcing and administering the rule as proposed. The effect on state government for the first fiscal year that the rule will be in effect is an estimated cost of $69,904 in General Revenue (GR) ($180,868 All Funds (AF)) in fiscal year (FY) 2021. There are no anticipated costs beyond FY 2021.

Enforcing or administering the rule does not have foreseeable implications relating to costs or revenues of local governments.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

HHSC has determined that during the first five years that the rule will be in effect:

(1) the proposed rule will not create or eliminate a government program;

(2) implementation of the proposed rule will not affect the number of HHSC employee positions;

(3) implementation of the proposed rule will result in no assumed change in future legislative appropriations;

(4) the proposed rule will not affect fees paid to HHSC;

(5) the proposed rule will not create a new rule;

(6) the proposed rule will expand an existing rule;

(7) the proposed rule will not change the number of individuals subject to the rule; and

(8) HHSC has insufficient information to determine the proposed rule's effect on the state's economy.

SMALL BUSINESS, MICRO-BUSINESS, AND RURAL COMMUNITY IMPACT ANALYSIS

Trey Wood has also determined that there will be no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities. The rule does not impose any additional costs on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities that are required to comply with the rule.

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT

The proposed rule will not affect a local economy.

COSTS TO REGULATED PERSONS

Texas Government Code §2001.0045 does not apply to this rule because the rule is necessary to implement legislation that does not specifically state that §2001.0045 applies to the rule and does not impose a cost on regulated persons.

PUBLIC BENEFIT AND COSTS

Michelle Alletto, Chief Program and Services Officer, has determined that for each year of the first five years the rule is in effect, the public benefit will be: 1) relieving an unintended strain on retailers caused by the current schedule of SNAP benefits, and 2) the provision of a wider availability of products for SNAP recipients.

Trey Wood has also determined that for the first five years the rule is in effect, there are no anticipated economic costs to persons who are required to comply with the proposed rule because there is no requirement to alter business practices. The proposed rule applies only to the distribution of SNAP benefits to recipients whose initial determination of eligibility for benefits are made on or after September 1, 2020.

TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

HHSC has determined that the proposal does not restrict or limit an owner's right to his or her property that would otherwise exist in the absence of government action and, therefore, does not constitute a taking under Texas Government Code §2007.043.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Questions about the content of this proposal may be directed to Sarah Scott at (512) 206-4641 in HHSC Access and Eligibility Services.

Written comments on the proposal may be submitted Rules Coordination Office, P.O. Box 13247, Mail Code 4102, Austin, Texas 78711-3247, or street address 4900 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78751, or by e-mail to AES_PSAD@hhsc.state.tx.us.

To be considered, comments must be submitted no later than 31 days after the date of this issue of the Texas Register. Comments must be: (1) postmarked or shipped before the last day of the comment period; (2) hand-delivered before 5:00 p.m. on the last working day of the comment period; or (3) emailed before midnight on the last day of the comment period. If last day to submit comments falls on a holiday, comments must be postmarked, shipped, or emailed before midnight on the following business day to be accepted. When emailing comments, please indicate "Comments on Proposed Rule 20R028" in the subject line.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendment is authorized by Texas Government Code §531.0055, which provides that the Executive Commissioner of HHSC shall adopt rules for the operation and provision of services by the health and human services agencies and Human Resources Code §33.002(c-1), which requires the Executive Commissioner to adopt rules related to distribution of SNAP benefits.

The amendment affects Texas Government Code §531.0055 and implements Human Resources Code, §33.002(c-1).

§372.1513.Availability of Monthly Benefits.

After certifying a household for monthly benefits, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission makes:

(1) SNAP [the] benefits available during the first 28 [15] days of the month; and [.]

(2) TANF benefits available during the first 3 days of the month.[The specific day is determined by the last digit in the case number as follows:]

[Figure: 1 TAC §372.1513]

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on April 24, 2020.

TRD-202001615

Karen Ray

Chief Counsel

Texas Health and Human Services Commission

Earliest possible date of adoption: June 7, 2020

For further information, please call: (512) 206-4641


CHAPTER 377. CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY PROGRAMS

SUBCHAPTER C. STANDARDS OF OPERATION FOR LOCAL CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY CENTERS

1 TAC §§377.201, 377.203, 377.205, 377.207, 377.209, 377.211

The Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) proposes amendments to §377.201, concerning Purpose and Definitions; §377.203, concerning Legal Authorization, §377.205, concerning Applicability; §377.207, concerning Contract with Statewide Children's Advocacy Center Organization; §377.209, Contracts with Local Children's Advocacy Centers; and §377.211, concerning Operation of Local Children's Advocacy Center and Program.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Children's advocacy centers (CACs) were codified in statute under the Texas Family Code §§264.401-264.411 in 1995. At that time, Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, Inc. (CACTX) was an administrative board for 13 CACs that were in existence. Since that time, the number of CACs have grown, with 71 CACs serving 208 of 254 counties in Texas. HHSC has contracted with CACTX as the statewide organization providing children's advocacy services since fiscal year 2016. Previously, the Office of the Attorney General contracted with CACTX to provide these services.

The purpose of amending these rules is to reflect the changes Senate Bill 821 made to the Texas Family Code. Additionally, the amendments will more clearly align the rules with current practices, standards, services, and operations of the statewide children's advocacy center organization and local CACs in Texas.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

The proposed amendment to §377.201(b)(3) adds a reference to the Texas Family Code §264.4031.

The proposed amendment to §377.203 deletes the reference to Texas Family Code §264.410(c) because it has been repealed and replaces it with language referencing the Texas Family Code Chapter 264, Subchapter E, as the source that authorizes HHSC to administer funding for children's advocacy centers.

The proposed amendment to §377.205 deletes language referring to contracts for services with local CACs and the reference to Texas Family Code Chapter 264, Subsection E. The language is replaced with new language to clarify that the subchapter applies to local children's advocacy centers and the statewide children's advocacy center organization.

The proposed amendments to §377.207 clarifies subsection (b) to state that HHSC contracts with one statewide children's advocacy center organization. An edit to subsection (b)(1) corrects a reference to "§501(c)(3)" of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Subsection (b)(2) is deleted and the paragraphs are renumbered to account for the deletion. The proposed amendment to subsection (b)(3) clarifies that HHSC contracts with one statewide children's advocacy center organization that is composed of individuals who have expertise in establishing and operating local children's advocacy centers. A new subsection (d) is added to require the statewide organization HHSC contracts with, to develop and adopt standards for local children's advocacy center programs.

The proposed amendment to §377.209 adds a new subsection (a) which provides that a children's advocacy center may be established on the execution of a memorandum by community members and the participating agencies described by Texas Family Code §264.403(a) to serve a county or two or more contiguous counties in which a center has not been established, in accordance with Texas Family Code §264.402. The subsections are relabeled to account for the addition of subsection (a). New subsection (b) is amended to require that the children's advocacy center organization shall contract with local children's advocacy centers. A new subparagraph (B) is added to subsection (c)(1) to require that a local children's advocacy center must have a signed working protocol as provided by Texas Family Code §264.4031. The subparagraphs are relabeled to account for the addition. New subsection (c)(1)(C) is updated for conformity. The proposed amendment to new subsection (c)(1)(D) deletes the phrase "of persons involved in the investigation or prosecution of child abuse cases, or the delivery of services." New subparagraph (E) adds new language clarifying that for a local children's advocacy center to be eligible to contract with the statewide organization, the multidisciplinary team must convene regularly under Texas Family Code §264.406. Old subparagraphs (E), (F), and (G) are deleted. New subsection (c)(1)(F) is updated for clarity. Subsection (c)(1)(I) is deleted. A new subparagraph (G) is added to subsection (c)(1) to require that a local center will fulfill the duties required by Texas Family Code §264.405. The reference to subsection "(b)(1)" is replaced with subsection "(c)(1)" in subsection (c)(2) to align the reference with the proposed changes.

The proposed amendment to §377.211 replaces the language in paragraphs (1) - (4) in subsection (a) with new language pertaining to a local children's advocacy center's operational duties. A new subsection (b) is added listing the services a local children's advocacy center must provide. The subsections are relabeled and the title to new subsection (c) is revised. New subsection (c) is revised to clarify who comprises the local children's advocacy board. The new language clarifies that a local children's advocacy center must be governed by a board and lists who must serve on the board of a local children's advocacy center, including requiring an executive officer with decision-making authority. The board must include a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction to investigate not only child abuse but also neglect cases in the area served by the local children's advocacy center. Language referring to DFPS's Child Protective Services division was deleted and replaced with "DFPS." New paragraph (3) of this subsection provides that the required governing board members, referenced in this subsection, may not constitute a majority of the membership of a local children's advocacy center's governing board. The proposed amendment to subsection (d) revises paragraph (1) by adding a reference to the Texas Family Code §264.403(a) and updates language pertaining to who must comprise a multidisciplinary team. The language in paragraphs (2) - (5) was deleted and new paragraphs (2) - (5) provide for potential additional multidisciplinary team members and the requirements of the participating agencies to agree in writing and to sign the memorandum of understanding and the working protocol with the local children's advocacy center. The new language describes the required multidisciplinary team response involvement, provides a criterion on the abuse or neglect case that may be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team, and describes the authority a multidisciplinary team member has in sharing with and receiving information from other multidisciplinary team members. The proposed amendment to subsection (f) replaces "child" with "alleged victim" and a clerical edit is made to paragraph (2) of this subsection. New language is added to paragraph (3) of this subsection providing that a request to a local children's advocacy center for confidential information must be made to the agency with the originating information. The proposed amendments to subsection (f)(4) and (5) add language to replace "video" recording with "electronic recording." The proposed amendment also provides that a person with a disability may be interviewed and recorded electronically by a local children's advocacy center and allows DFPS access to the electronic recordings of children and of persons with a disability. The amendment adds "exploitation" as a potential civil action alleged in a civil suit or investigated by DFPS.

FISCAL NOTE

Liz Prado, Deputy Executive Commissioner of Financial Services, has determined that for each year of the first five years that the rules will be in effect, enforcing or administering the rules do not have foreseeable implications relating to costs or revenues of state or local governments.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

HHSC has determined that during the first five years that the rules will be in effect

(1) the proposed rules will not create or eliminate a government program;

(2) implementation of the proposed rules will not affect the number of HHSC employee positions;

(3) implementation of the proposed rules will result in no assumed change in future legislative appropriations;

(4) the proposed rules will not affect fees paid to HHSC;

(5) the proposed rules will not create a new rule;

(6) the proposed rules will expand existing rules;

(7) the proposed rules will not change the number of individuals subject to the rules; and

(8) the proposed rules will not affect the state's economy.

SMALL BUSINESS, MICRO-BUSINESS, AND RURAL COMMUNITY IMPACT ANALYSIS

Liz Prado has also determined that there will be no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities. The proposed rules do not require small or micro-businesses, or rural communities to alter current business practices.

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT

The proposed rules will not affect a local economy.

COSTS TO REGULATED PERSONS

Texas Government Code §2001.0045 does not apply to these rules because the rules do not impose a cost on regulated persons.

PUBLIC BENEFIT AND COSTS

Dee Budgewater, Deputy Executive Commissioner, Health, Developmental & Independence Services, has determined that for each year of the first five years the rules are in effect, the public benefit will be that the 71 local CAC centers throughout Texas, where services are offered to children that are victims of abuse, will operate under defined, clear, and consistent duties and working protocols. Additionally, the rules will align with current practices and the revised Texas Family Code.

Liz Prado has also determined that for the first five years the rules are in effect, there are no anticipated economic costs to persons who are required to comply with the proposed rules. The proposed rules codifies existing HHSC business practices and standards for the statewide children's advocacy center organization, and local CACs currently in statute.

TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

HHSC has determined that the proposal does not restrict or limit an owner's right to his or her property that would otherwise exist in the absence of government action and, therefore, does not constitute a taking under Texas Government Code §2007.043.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Written comments on the proposal may be submitted to Rules Coordination Office, P.O. Box 13247, Mail Code 4102, Austin, Texas 78711-3247, or street address 4900 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78751; or emailed to HHSRulesCoordinationOffice@hhsc.state.tx.us.

To be considered, comments must be submitted no later than 31 days after the date of this issue of the Texas Register. Comments must be: (1) postmarked or shipped before the last day of the comment period; (2) hand-delivered before 5:00 p.m. on the last working day of the comment period; or (3) e-mailed before midnight on the last day of the comment period. If last day to submit comments falls on a holiday, comments must be postmarked, shipped, or emailed before midnight on the following business day to be accepted. When e-mailing comments, please indicate "Comments on Proposed Rule 20R017" in the subject line.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments are authorized by Texas Government Code §531.0055, which provides that the Executive Commissioner of HHSC shall adopt rules for the operation and provision of services by the health and human services agencies, and Texas Family Code §264.409, which directs HHSC to contract with a statewide organization for the administration and oversight of child advocacy centers statewide.

The amendments affect Texas Government Code §531.0055.

§377.201.Purpose and Definitions.

(a) The purpose of this subchapter is to provide:

(1) requirements regarding the function and administration of a local children's advocacy center program; and

(2) requirements for contracts between the statewide children's advocacy center organization and the local children's advocacy centers.

(b) The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(1) Local children's advocacy center--An entity that is established in accordance with a memorandum of understanding executed under Texas Family Code §264.403, that operates local children's advocacy center programs.

(2) Local children's advocacy center program--A local program that:

(A) assesses victims of child abuse or neglect to determine needed services and provides the needed services;

(B) provides a facility at which a multidisciplinary team can meet to facilitate the disposition of child abuse cases; and

(C) coordinates the activities of governmental entities in relation to child abuse investigations and the delivery of services.

(3) Multidisciplinary team--A team of individuals composed in accordance with Texas Family Code §264.406 that works within a local children's advocacy center in accordance with the protocols outlined in Texas Family Code §264.4031 to review child abuse cases with the intent of coordinating the activities of entities involved in child abuse investigation and prosecution and in the provision of victim services.

(4) Statewide children's advocacy center organization--The entity with which HHSC contracts under Texas Family Code §264.409 and §377.207 of this subchapter (relating to Contract with Statewide Children's Advocacy Center Organization).

§377.203.Legal Authorization.

The provisions of this subchapter are promulgated under [the] Texas Family Code Chapter 264, Subchapter E, [§264.410(c), ] which authorizes HHSC to administer funding for children's advocacy centers [adopt standards for local children's advocacy center programs and to adopt rules necessary to carry out the provisions of Texas Family Code Chapter 264, Subchapter E].

§377.205.Applicability.

This subchapter applies to local children's advocacy centers and the statewide children's advocacy center organization [contracts for services with local children's advocacy centers, as specified in Texas Family Code Chapter 264, Subchapter E].

§377.207.Contract with Statewide Children's Advocacy Center Organization.

(a) HHSC contracts with a single statewide children's advocacy center organization that satisfies subsection (b) of this section to perform the following functions for local children's advocacy center programs:

(1) training;

(2) technical assistance;

(3) evaluation services; and

(4) funds administration.

(b) HHSC contracts [may contract only] with one [a] statewide children's advocacy center organization that:

(1) is exempt from federal income taxation under Internal Revenue Code of 1986 §501(a) and §501(c)(3) [§501(3) ]; and

[(2) is designated as a supporting organization under Internal Revenue Code of 1986 §509(a)(3); and]

(2) [(3)] is composed of individuals [or groups of individuals] who have expertise in establishing and operating local children's advocacy centers [center programs].

(c) The contract must limit the statewide children's advocacy center organization's annual spending for the performance of obligations under Texas Family Code §264.409(a) to no more than 12 percent of the annual amount appropriated to HHSC for the purposes of the local children's advocacy center programs.

(d) The statewide organization with which HHSC contracts shall develop and adopt standards for local children's advocacy centers.

§377.209.Contracts with Local Children's Advocacy Centers.

(a) On the execution of a memorandum of understanding under Texas Family Code §264.403, a local children's advocacy center may be established by community members and the participating agencies described by Texas Family Code §264.403(a) to serve a county or two or more contiguous counties in which a center has not been established, in accordance with Texas Family Code §264.402.

(b) [(a)] The statewide children's advocacy center organization with which HHSC contracts under §377.207 of this subchapter (relating to Contract with Statewide Children's Advocacy Center Organization) shall contract [contracts] with local children's advocacy centers to establish, maintain, and enhance the services provided by the centers.

(c) [(b)] Eligibility of a Local Children's Advocacy Center to Contract with the Statewide Organization.

(1) To be eligible to contract with the statewide organization under Texas Family Code §264.410, a local children's advocacy center must:

(A) have a signed memorandum of understanding as provided by Texas Family Code §264.403;

(B) have a signed working protocol as provided by Texas Family Code §264.4031;

(C) [(B) ] have [operate under the authority of] a governing board as provided by Texas Family Code §264.404;

(D) [(C)] have a multidisciplinary team [of persons involved in the investigation or prosecution of child abuse cases, or the delivery of services] as provided by Texas Family Code §264.406;

(E) [(D) hold] regularly convene the multidisciplinary team [scheduled case reviews] as provided by Texas Family Code §264.406;

[(E) operate in a neutral and physically separate space from the day-to-day operations of any public agency partner;]

[(F) have developed a method of statistical information-gathering on children receiving services through the center, and share such statistical information with the statewide children's advocacy center organization, DFPS, and HHSC when requested;]

[(G) have an in-house volunteer program;]

(F) [(H)] employ an executive director who is accountable [answerable] to the board of directors of the local children's advocacy center and who is not the exclusive salaried employee of any governmental [public] agency [partner]; and

[(I) operate under a working protocol that includes a statement of:]

[(i) the local children's advocacy center's mission;]

[(ii) each participating agency's role and commitment to the local children's advocacy center;]

[(iii) the type of cases to be handled by the local children's advocacy center;]

[(iv) the local children's advocacy center's procedure for conducting case reviews and forensic interviews, and for ensuring access to specialized medical and mental health services; and]

[(v) the local children's advocacy center's policies regarding confidentiality and conflict resolution.]

(G) fulfill the duties required by Texas Family Code §264.405.

(2) The statewide children's advocacy center organization may waive requirements specified in subsection (c)(1) [(b)(1) ] of this section if it determines that the waiver will not adversely affect a [the] local children's advocacy center's ability to carry out its duties under Texas Family Code §264.405.

(d) [(c)] Requirements for Contracts Awarded to Local Children's Advocacy Centers by the Statewide Children's Advocacy Center Organization.

(1) A contract between the statewide children's advocacy center organization and a local children's advocacy center under Texas Family Code §264.410 must not result in reducing the financial support the local children's advocacy center receives from another source.

(2) A contract between the statewide children's advocacy center organization and a local children's advocacy center under Texas Family Code §264.410 must be enforced through the use of remedies and in accordance with the procedures provided in the Uniform Grant Management Standards for Texas (UGMS).

(3) A contract between the statewide children's advocacy center organization and a local children's advocacy center under Texas Family Code §264.410 must require the local children's advocacy center to comply with the requirements and provisions applicable to local children's advocacy centers contained in the contract between the statewide children's advocacy center organization and HHSC under Texas Family Code §264.409.

§377.211.Operation of Local Children's Advocacy Center and Program.

(a) A local children's advocacy center must:

(1) receive, review, and track Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) reports relating to the suspected abuse or neglect of a child or the death of a child from abuse or neglect to ensure a consistent, comprehensive approach to all cases that meet the criteria outlined in the multidisciplinary team working protocol adopted under Texas Family Code §264.4031;

(2) coordinate the activities of participating agencies relating to abuse and neglect investigations and delivery of services to alleged abuse and neglect victims and their families;

(3) facilitate assessment of alleged abuse or neglect victims and their families to determine their need for services relating to the investigation of abuse or neglect and provide needed services; and

(4) comply with the standards adopted under Texas Family Code §264.409(c).

[(1) assess victims of child abuse and their families to determine their need for services relating to the investigation of child abuse;]

[(2) provide the services needed;]

[(3) provide a facility at which a multidisciplinary team appointed under Texas Family Code §264.406 can meet to facilitate the efficient and appropriate disposition of child abuse cases through the civil and criminal justice systems; and]

[(4) coordinate the activities of governmental entities that are involved with child abuse investigations and the delivery of services to child abuse victims and their families.]

(b) A local children's advocacy center must provide:

(1) facilitation of a multidisciplinary team response to abuse or neglect allegations in accordance with Texas Family Code §264.4061;

(2) a formal process that requires the multidisciplinary team to routinely discuss and share information regarding investigations, case status, and services needed by children and families;

(3) a system to monitor the progress and track the outcome of each case;

(4) a child-focused setting that is comfortable, private, and physically and psychologically safe for diverse populations at which a multidisciplinary team can meet to facilitate the efficient and appropriate disposition of abuse and neglect cases through the civil and criminal justice systems;

(5) culturally competent services for children and families throughout the duration of a case;

(6) victim support and advocacy services for children and families;

(7) forensic interviews that are conducted in a neutral, fact-finding manner and coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing;

(8) access to specialized medical evaluations and treatment services for victims of alleged abuse or neglect;

(9) evidence-based, trauma-focused mental health services for children and nonoffending members of the child's family; and

(10) opportunities for community involvement through a formalized volunteer program dedicated to supporting the local children's advocacy center.

(c) [(b)] Governing Board [of Directors] of a Local Children's Advocacy Center.

(1) A local children's advocacy center must be governed by a board [of directors]. In addition to any other persons appointed or elected to serve on the governing board of a local children's advocacy center [of directors], the governing board [of directors] must include an executive officer of, or an employee with decision-making authority selected by an executive officer of [each of the following]:

(A) DFPS;

(B) [(A)] a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction to investigate [that investigates] child abuse and neglect in the area served by the local children's advocacy center; and

[(B) DFPS's Child Protective Services division; and]

(C) the county or district attorney's office with jurisdiction to prosecute [involved in the prosecution of] child abuse and neglect cases in the area served by the local children's advocacy center.

(2) Service on the board of a local children's advocacy center by an executive [a public] officer or employee, under paragraph (1) of this subsection, is an additional duty of the person's office or employment.

(3) The governing board members required under paragraph (1) of this subsection may not constitute a majority of the membership of a local children's advocacy center's governing board.

(d) [(c)] Multidisciplinary Team of a Local Children's Advocacy Center.

(1) A local children's advocacy center's multidisciplinary team must include employees of the participating agencies described by Texas Family Code §264.403(a) [, who are professionals involved in the investigation or prosecution of child abuse cases].

(2) A representative of any other entity may participate in the multidisciplinary team response as provided by the multidisciplinary team working protocol adopted under Texas Family Code §264.4031 if:

(A) the entity participates in or provides the following:

(i) child abuse or neglect investigations;

(ii) abuse or neglect investigations involving persons with a disability;

(iii) services to alleged child abuse or neglect victims; or

(iv) services to alleged victims who are persons with a disability;

(B) the local children's advocacy center and participating agencies agree in writing to the entity's participation; and

(C) the entity signs the memorandum of understating executed under Texas Family Code §264.403 and the working protocol adopted under Texas Family Code §264.4031.

(3) A local children's advocacy center's multidisciplinary team shall be actively involved in the following multidisciplinary team response:

(A) coordinating the actions of the participating agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of cases and the delivery of services to alleged abuse or neglect victims and the victims' families; and

(B) conducting at regularly scheduled intervals multidisciplinary review of appropriate abuse or neglect cases as provided by the working protocol adopted under Texas Family Code §264.4031.

(4) A multidisciplinary team may review an abuse or neglect case in which the alleged perpetrator is not a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare.

(5) A multidisciplinary team member is authorized to share with and receive from other multidisciplinary team members information made confidential by Texas Government Code Chapter 552, Texas Human Resources Code §40.005 or §48.101, or Texas Family Code §261.201 or §264.408 when acting in the member's official capacity as an employee of a participating agency described by Texas Family Code §264.403(a) or of another entity described by Texas Family Code 264.406(b).

[(2) A local children's advocacy center's multidisciplinary team may also include professionals involved in the delivery of services, including medical and mental health services, to child abuse victims and the victims' families.]

[(3) A multidisciplinary team must meet at regularly scheduled intervals to:]

[(A) review child abuse cases determined to be appropriate for review by the multidisciplinary team; and]

[(B) coordinate the actions of the entities involved in the investigation and prosecution of the cases and the delivery of services to the child abuse victims and the victims' families.]

[(4) A multidisciplinary team may review a child abuse case in which the alleged perpetrator does not have custodial control or supervision of the child or is not responsible for the child's welfare or care.]

[(5) When acting in the member's official capacity, a multidisciplinary team member is authorized to receive information made confidential by Texas Human Resources Code §40.005 or Texas Family Code §261.201 or §264.408.]

(e) [(d)] Liability.

(1) A person is not liable for civil damages based on a recommendation made or an opinion rendered in good faith, while acting in the official scope of the person's duties as a member of a multidisciplinary team or as a board member, staff member, or volunteer of a local children's advocacy center.

(2) This limitation on civil liability does not apply if a person's actions constitute gross negligence.

(f) [(e)] Confidentiality Requirements Placed on a Local Children's Advocacy Center.

(1) In accordance with Texas Family Code §264.408, the files, reports, records, communications, and working papers used or developed in providing services under Texas Family Code Chapter 264 are confidential. This information is not subject to public release under Texas Government Code Chapter 552[,] and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with Texas Family Code Chapter 264 without losing its confidential character. Disclosure may be made to:

(A) DFPS, DFPS employees, law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, medical professionals, and other state or local agencies that provide services to children and families; and

(B) the attorney for the alleged victim [child ] who is the subject of the records[,] and a court-appointed volunteer advocate appointed for the alleged victim [child ] under Texas Family Code §107.031.

(2) Information related to the investigation of a report of abuse or neglect under Texas Family Code Chapter 261, and to the services provided as a result of the investigation, are confidential as provided by Texas Family Code §261.201.

(3) DFPS, a law enforcement agency, and a prosecuting attorney may share with a local children's advocacy center information that is confidential under Texas Family Code §261.201 as needed[,] to provide services under Texas Family Code Chapter 264. Confidential information shared with or provided to a local children's advocacy center remains the confidential property of the agency that shared or provided the information to the local children's advocacy center. A request for confidential information provided to the local children's advocacy center under Texas Family Code §264.408 must be made to the agency that shared or provided the information.

(4) An electronic [A video] recording of an interview with [of] a child or person with a disability that is made by a local children's advocacy center is the property of the prosecuting attorney involved in the criminal prosecution of the case involving the child or person with a disability. If no criminal prosecution occurs, the electronic [video] recording is the property of the attorney involved in representing DFPS in a civil action alleging [child] abuse, [or] neglect, or exploitation. If the matter involving the child or person with a disability is not prosecuted [pursued either civilly or criminally], the electronic [video] recording is the property of DFPS, if the matter is an investigation by DFPS of abuse, [or] neglect, or exploitation. If DFPS is not investigating or has not investigated the matter, the electronic [video ] recording is the property of the agency that referred the matter to the local children's advocacy center.

(5) DFPS must be allowed access to a local children's advocacy center's electronic recordings of [video-recorded ] interviews of children or persons with a disability.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on April 24, 2020.

TRD-202001591

Karen Ray

Chief Counsel

Texas Health and Human Services Commission

Earliest possible date of adoption: June 7, 2020

For further information, please call: (512) 206-4647