Open Records Policy
Under Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) must release public information in response to requests from members of the public and an officer for public information and the officer's agent may not ask why you want them. The Texas Public Information Act does not require a governmental body to create new information, to do legal research, or to answer questions. The request must ask for records or information already in existence.
Although all government information is presumed to be available to the public, certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information. Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought.
The governmental body will try to complete the request as soon as possible with notification if the request will require more than 10 business days to complete. The governmental body may collect a fee as prescribed by law or regulation for the requested documents. If a fee is not prescribed by law or regulation, the fee shall be the actual cost of duplicating the record(s).
You have the right to:
- Prompt access to information that is not confidential or otherwise protected;
- Receive treatment equal to all other requestors, including accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements;
- Receive certain kinds of information without exceptions, like the voting record of public officials, and other information;
- Receive a written statement of estimated charges, when charges will exceed $40, in advance of work being started and opportunity to modify the request in response to the itemized statement;
- Choose whether to inspect the requested information (most often at no charge), receive copies of the information or both;
- A waiver or reduction of charges if the governmental body determines that access to the information primarily benefits the general public;
- Receive a copy of the communication from the governmental body asking the Office of the Attorney General for a ruling on whether the information can be withheld under one of the accepted exceptions, or if the communication discloses the requested information, a redacted copy;
- Lodge a written complaint about overcharges for public information with the Texas Building and Procurement Commission. Complaints of other possible violations may be filed with the county or district attorney of the county where the governmental body, other than a state agency, is located. If the complaint is against the county or district attorney, the complaint must be filed with the Office of the Attorney General.
All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the responsibility to:
- Establish reasonable procedures for inspecting or copying public information and inform requestors of these procedures;
- Treat all requestors uniformly and shall give to the requestor all reasonable comfort and facility, including accommodation in accordance with ADA requirements;
- Be informed about open records laws and educate employees on the requirements of those laws;
- Inform requestors of the estimated charges greater than $40 and any changes in the estimates above 20 percent of the original estimate, and confirm that the requestor accepts the charges, has amended the request, or has sent a complaint of overcharges to the Texas Building and Procurement Commission, in writing before finalizing the request;
- Inform the requestor if the information cannot be provided promptly and set a date and time to provide it within a reasonable time;
- Request a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General regarding any information the governmental body wishes to withhold, and send a copy of the request for ruling, or a redacted copy, to the requestor;
- Segregate public information from information that may be withheld and provide that public information promptly;
- Make a good faith attempt to inform third parties when their proprietary information is being requested from the governmental body;
- Respond in writing to all written communications from the Texas Building and Procurement Commission regarding charges for the information. Respond to the Office of the Attorney General regarding complaints about violations of the Act.
DFPS must comply with all statutes and rules pertaining to confidentiality. These laws include: Texas Family Code §261.201, Texas Human Resources Code §48.101, Texas Administrative Code; 40 TAC §§700.201-700.207 for CPS, 40 TAC §§705.7101-705.7123 for APS, 40 TAC §§745.8481-8493 for Child Care Licensing.
Agency case records of children and adults are only releasable to certain parties and not to the general public. Depending on your relationship to a case, you may or may not be entitled to confidential information. For information on how to obtain a copy of a DFPS case record, please click here.
If your request for information deals with contracts, statistics, policy matters, personnel records, or other non-case related documents, please click here.
Note: Requests for information regarding a DFPS contract must be made directly to DFPS rather than to the contractor.
For complaints regarding failure to release public information please contact your local County or District Attorney. You may also contact the Office of the Attorney General, Open Records Hotline, at 512-478-6736 or toll-free at 1-877-673-6839.
If you need special accommodation pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), please contact our ADA coordinator, HHSC Office of Civil Rights at (512) 458-7111.