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3000 Disclosure of DFPS Records

RMG September 2016

RMG determines a requester’s entitlement (right of access) to DFPS records, redacts information in accordance with DFPS Redaction Guidelines, and provides the records to the requester.    

Texas Government Code §§552.022; 552.023

RMG fulfills records requests from DFPS employees and contractors to facilitate decisions about client safety and well-being or to support business operations. DFPS fulfills requests from external parties for existing records as required by state and federal law.

3100 Litigation and Criminal Justice

RMG September 2016

During litigation or an investigation, DFPS may be required to produce and protect case records. RMG satisfies this burden through responsive, thorough, and timely redaction and production of requested case records.   

When DFPS records contain information deemed privileged by federal law (see 2530 Drug or Alcohol Abuse Treatment Records), the privileged information is withheld. Upon court order, certain entities may be granted access to privileged information; however, DFPS prefers that these entities seek privileged information from its source (for example, seeking drug treatment records from the treatment center).

3110 Subpoenas

RMG September 2016

DFPS may be required to comply with a subpoena that calls for the disclosure of confidential closed case records pursuant to civil or criminal proceedings. RMG fulfills all subpoenas properly served to DFPS that require closed case records. Subpoenas for open case records must be staffed with the Office of the General Counsel.

Subpoena requests are fulfilled within 10 business days or within the timeline specified in the subpoena. RMG may negotiate with the requester on a subpoena due date, if necessary.  

The assigned Office of the General Counsel staff member reviews and then forwards the subpoena to RMG.

3111 Civil and Defense

RMG September 2016

When a party involved in a legal proceeding issues a subpoena, RMG assesses the requesting party’s entitlement to the records and redacts according to the Rules and Guidelines for Entitlement and Redaction. Entire records may be provided without redaction if a requester is fully entitled based on their professional capacity (for example, a judge).

3112 Grand Jury and Post-Indictment

RMG September 2016

When a district attorney issues a subpoena, RMG:

  •  provides the entire record based on the professional capacity of the requester; and

  •  redacts only where specifically instructed.

3120 Court Orders

RMG September 2016

A judge may issue a court order, in writing or verbally, that calls for the disclosure of confidential case records. RMG fulfills all court orders served to DFPS that require closed case records.

The caseworker or assigned Office of the General Counsel staff member starts the provision of closed case records by making a request in OneCase and providing the written order as an attachment or explaining the verbal order in the OneCase request.

RMG redacts the requested records only when specifically instructed; otherwise, the requested records are provided without redaction within 30 days or within the timeline specified in the order.

In addition to general court orders outlined above, RMG processes records for court orders from two other sources: the Travis County Domestic Relations Office and probate courts.

3121 Domestic Relations Office Court Order

RMG September 2016

The Travis County Domestic Relations Office issues court orders for records needed to complete a social study evaluation. These court orders must include a completed Form 4882 Request From Child Custody Evaluator Or Adoption Evaluator For Case Records.

3122 Expunctions

RMG September 2016

DFPS complies with court orders requiring the permanent removal of certain criminal information from DFPS records. RMG, Program Support, and the Office of the General Counsel take the following actions when a court order for an expunction is received:

  •  Locate records that may contain the information that must be removed.

  •  Ensure no information to be expunged is released before the completion of the expunction.

  •  Identify and permanently remove the information in accordance with the court order.

  •  Provide the criminal history to the court if requested and confidentially destroy any responsive criminal history remaining in DFPS possession.

  •  Notify the court when the expunction is complete.

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 55.02, Section 5

3123 Probate Court Order

RMG September 2016

Probate proceedings related to the guardianship of minors and adults with disabilities generate court orders pursuant to the probate proceeding. These court orders have no accompanying form.

3130 Discovery

RMG September 2016

A party to a lawsuit may issue a discovery request that calls for the release of confidential case records.

RMG processes two types of discovery requests: general and supplemental. A supplemental discovery request asks for information that did not exist at the time of the original discovery.   

3140 Requests from Criminal Justice Agencies, County Attorneys, and District Attorneys

RMG September 2016

DFPS must release DFPS records to criminal justice agencies, county attorneys, and district attorneys upon request, if records are needed in relation to:

  •  allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a DFPS client;

  •  allegations of false or malicious reporting of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a DFPS client; or

  •  failure to report alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a DFPS client.

3150 Requests from a Juvenile Justice Probation Officer

RMG September 2016

DFPS must release confidential case records to Texas Juvenile Justice Department probation officers who are representing or providing services to youth. The sole purpose is to help coordinate and monitor the care of youth in the Texas juvenile justice system. The request is made on Form 4885-J Request from Juvenile Justice Entities for Case Records. The form may be submitted electronically or by mail.

Texas Family Code §58.0051-2

3200 Request for Records for the Purpose of Adoption

RMG September 2016

DFPS produces records for internal and external parties so that adoptions can take place. The records primarily contain information about the history of the adoptive child. Caseworkers, prospective adoptive parents, legal staff, judges, and the adopted child have the right to examine these records. DFPS must redact information in accordance with the Rules and Guidelines for Entitlement and Redaction.

Texas Family Code §261.201(e)

The assigned caseworker initiates the redaction of an adoption record by submitting a request to RMG via OneCase.

3210 Health, Social, Educational, and Genetic History (HSEGH)

RMG September 2016

DFPS provides information about an adoptive child’s health, social, education, and genetic history to prospective adoptive parents. DFPS redacts information in accordance with the Rules and Guidelines for Entitlement and Redaction.

Texas Family Code §162.005

The assigned caseworker initiates the redaction of an adoption record by submitting a request to RMG via OneCase.

3300 Requests to Review a DFPS Case Record

RMG September 2016

DFPS may release CPS, APS, and CCL case records internally or externally as required by law for the purpose of reviewing a DFPS case record.

3310 Appeals of DFPS Dispositions

RMG September 2016

When DFPS substantiates an individual as a designated perpetrator of abuse or neglect, the individual has a right to an appeals process, which includes access to the closed case record. Appeals processes include Administrative Review of Investigative Findings, Employee Misconduct Registry Administrative Hearing, and State Office of Administrative Hearings.

Texas Government Code 552.023

3311 Administrative Review

RMG September 2016

DFPS may provide case records pertinent to an administrative review (also called a desk review) request to the individual pursuing the administrative review. See:

CPS Handbook 1263.2 ARIF Proceedings

CPS Handbook 7740 Administrative Review

APS Handbook 5421.11 Request for Records for an Administrative Review in Non-EMR Cases

CCL Handbook 7714.1 Scheduling an Administrative Review Conference

40 Texas Administrative Code §700, Subchapter B; §705, Subchapter M;
§745, Subchapter K, Division 3

The DFPS program-appointed individual (such as a resolution specialist or reviewer) verifies the identity of the individual requesting the administrative review. The program-appointed individual uses OneCase to request a redacted copy of the client’s case record from RMG, when applicable.  

3312 Employee Misconduct Registry (EMR) Administrative Hearing

RMG September 2016

DFPS may provide case records pertinent to a request for an Employee Misconduct Registry (EMR) administrative hearing to the individual appointed by a DFPS program or to the individual pursuing the EMR hearing.

3313 State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH)

RMG September 2016

DFPS may provide case records pertinent to a State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) request to the individual appointed by a DFPS program or to the individual pursuing the SOAH hearing.

3320 Request from Disability Rights Texas

RMG September 2016

Federal law allows DFPS to release confidential case records to Disability Rights Texas employees who represent an individual or investigate crimes related to:

  •  a complaint about the treatment of a DFPS client; or

  •  a complaint about a DFPS client’s abuse or neglect case (including APS, CCL, and CPS).

42 U.S.C. §§10801-10807 (2000)

42 U.S.C. §15043 (2004)

29 U.S.C. §794e (2000)

Employees of Disability Rights Texas may request a confidential case record by completing and submitting a region-specific Form 4885-D.

3330 Requests from Out-Of-State Protective Agencies

RMG July 2017

DFPS provides redacted copies of case records to protective agencies in other states, if:

  •   the professional capacity of the requester can be confirmed; and

  •   the protective agency serves the respective population the records are regarding.

Employees of out-of-state protective agencies may request a confidential case record by submitting a letter on the protective agency’s letter head. The letter can be sent via fax, mail, or email. If sent by email, the letter on the agency’s letterhead must be attached.

DFPS Rules, 40 Texas Administrative Code §700.204(b)

3340 Requests from DFPS Caseworkers

RMG September 2016

RMG provides physical case records (after case closure) to DFPS frontline staff so they can make informed decisions about client safety and well-being. RMG does this by scanning physical case records and uploading imaged documents into OneCase.

When records have yet to be uploaded, frontline staff must submit a request to RMG via OneCase.

3350 Requests from the Office of Consumer Affairs

RMG September 2016

RMG provides case records to the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) staff member conducting a review of a complaint against DFPS. See OCA Handbook 5300 OCA Review Process

Individuals pursuing an OCA review may request the related case record by completing and submitting Form 4885-G Request for Case Records.

3360 Requests from the Office of Inspector General

RMG September 2016

DFPS provides case records to the HHSC Office of Inspector General (OIG) without redaction when OIG is conducting a general or child fatality-related investigation.

Texas Government Code §531.102

40 Texas Administrative Code §§700.203; 705.7109; 745.8485; 745.8491

3370 Requests from School Officials

RMG September 2016

DFPS can provide case records relating to a school investigation to certain school officials. RMG is the sole authority responsible for redacting copies of closed school investigations and forwarding them to the:

  •  Texas Education Agency (TEA);

  •  agency responsible for teacher certification;

  •  local school board or school’s governing body;

  •  school principal or director, unless the principal or director is the perpetrator (alleged or designated) in the case record; and

  •  superintendent (only when the investigation is conducted by CPS).

RMG provides a redacted copy of the report maintained in IMPACT to these school officials. APS and CPS are the DFPS programs that conduct school investigations. The process for distributing school investigation case records varies by DFPS program.

Texas Family Code §261.406

Texas Human Resources Code §48.102

40 Texas Administrative Code §700.411

3371 Dissemination of Redacted APS School Investigative Case Records

RMG September 2016

DFPS provides redacted copies of certain closed APS school investigations to four designated entities (see APS Handbook 5442 Procedure for Processing the Completed School Investigation). RMG accepts all redaction requests from APS and school officials, completes necessary redaction, and forwards the redacted case record to the designated entities.  

Texas Human Resources Code §48.102

3372 Dissemination of Redacted CPS School Investigative Case Records

RMG September 2016

DFPS provides redacted copies of certain closed CPS school investigations to TEA (see CPS Handbook 2320 School Investigations). RMG accomplishes this though an automated prompting process described in 3372.1 Responsibilities Surrounding the Dissemination of Findings of Closed CPS School Investigations. RMG also responds to requests from school officials via submission of Form 4880 Request from School Official for Closed School Investigation Report.

Texas Family Code §261.406

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.411(a)-(b)

3372.1 Responsibilities Surrounding the Dissemination of Findings of Closed CPS School Investigations

RMG September 2016

DFPS’s Management Reporting and Statistics division maintains an automated report of school investigations closed by CPS. See CPS Investigations Completed - School Investigations - inv_cps_10 in the DFPS Data Warehouse.

RMG uses the automated report and generates weekly reports (Sunday to Saturday). RMG assesses the overall disposition of the school investigation and the school’s affiliation with TEA. RMG then forwards redacted copies of school investigations to TEA, as required by law.

3400 Requests from the General Public

RMG September 2016

DFPS may release records (including CPS, APS, and CCL case records) externally upon request as required by law. RMG receives requests for DFPS records from the public and the media. These requests are referred to as general requests.

3410 Requests from an Individual Personally Involved in a DFPS Case

RMG September 2016

DFPS provides confidential case records to an individual to whom the information personally pertains, or to the individual’s legal representative.

Texas Government Code §552.023

Texas Family Code §264.0145, §264.408

40 Texas Administrative Code §700, Subchapter B, §705, Subchapter M,
§745, Subchapter K, Division 3

An individual or an individual’s legal representative may request a confidential case record by completing and submitting Form 4885-G Request for Case Records.

RMG Open Records Procedural Manual

3411 Requests from a Former Foster Youth

RMG September 2016

Requests from individuals who were previously in foster care due to intervention from DFPS are prioritized before other requests from individuals personally involved in a case. Former foster youth may request their confidential case record using Form 4884 Former Foster Youth’s Request for Personal Records.

3420 Requests for Public Information (DFPS Open Records)

RMG September 2016

Upon request, DFPS provides information relating to:

  •  data reports, audits, or evaluations that are not case-specific;

  •  employees;

  •  expenditures;

  •  research;

  •  organizational descriptions;

  •  rules, policies, and procedures;

  •  forms; and

  •  other public records.

Texas Government Code §552.022

DFPS may collect a fee for documents as prescribed by law or regulation. If a fee is not prescribed by law or regulation, the fee will be the actual cost of duplicating the information.

1 Texas Administrative Code §70

Exceptions from general public disclosure include:

  •  substance abuse treatment records (including drug tests results that took place during treatment);

42 C.F.R. §§ 2.1-2.67

  •  any material already commercially available to the public;

Texas Government Code §552.027

  •  certain personal information about current or former employees, including addresses, telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers;

  •  information that is confidential by law (except when requested under the circumstances described in 3310 Appeals of DFPS Dispositions);

  •  certain personnel information;

  •  litigation or settlement negotiations involving DFPS;

  •  information related to competition or bidding;

  •  information related to location or price of property;

  •  draft versions of bill analyses of proposed legislation;

  •  trade secrets or specific commercial or financial information that may cause competitive harm to a vendor;

  •  DFPS internal memoranda;

  •  materials used in conducting an audit and preparing an audit report;

  •  email addresses belonging to members of the public used solely to communicate with DFPS;

  •  information about computer and network security; and

  •  continuity of operations plans.

Texas Government Code §552 Subchapter C

3500 Prioritization of External Records Requests

RMG September 2016

DFPS processes records requests in the following priority order. Other requests are prioritized in the order they are received.

  1. Records provided in response to a subpoena or court order that has been properly served on DFPS.

  2. Records provided in response to discovery in a lawsuit to which DFPS is a party.

  3. Records provided to a prospective adoptive family before an adoption may be consummated.

  4. Records provided to a party or the administrative law judge in an Employee Misconduct Registry administrative hearing.

  5. Records provided to a party or the administrative law judge in a hearing conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

  6. Records provided to a duly authorized person documenting the results of a school investigation as required by Texas Family Code §261.406.

  7. Records provided to a party in an administrative review of investigative findings that is conducted by DFPS.

  8. Records provided to an adult who was previously in the conservatorship of DFPS, if the request is for a copy of the adult’s own case record as defined by Texas Family Code §264.0145.

  9. Records provided to all other requesters entitled to receive the requested records, which are fulfilled in the order they are received.

DFPS reserves the right to expedite any request for records when DFPS determines that a delay in fulfilling the request may:

  •  jeopardize the health or safety of any person;

  •  cause any person to suffer undue hardship; or

  •  result in DFPS’s failure to meet a mandatory deadline for production of the requested records as imposed by a court or administrative tribunal.

40 Texas Administrative Code §702.223

3600 Determining Entitlement

RMG September 2016

Government information is presumed to be available to the public, but certain exceptions apply. DFPS redacts information a requester is not entitled to. At times, DFPS is required to seek a decision from the attorney general to determine the confidentiality of information before fulfilling a request. Additional information on who is entitled to receive case records is provided in the following chapters of Title 40, Texas Administrative Code:

  •  Chapter 700 (relating to Child Protective Services)

  •  Chapter 705 (relating to Adult Protective Services)

  •  Chapter 745 (relating to Child Care Licensing)

3610 Redaction

RMG September 2016

DFPS withholds information in accordance with the Rules and Guidelines for Entitlement and Redaction. Disclosure of certain information is prohibited by federal and state law.

Texas Government Code §552.352

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