Overview of the Public Information Act

The Texas Public Information act requires the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to release public information in response to requests. DFPS cannot ask you why you want the information. You may request existing records and information. However, the law does not require DFPS to create new information, do legal research, or answer questions.

Government information is presumed to be available to the public but certain exceptions apply.  DFPS may withhold information while it is seeking a decision on an exception to disclosure.

DFPS will try to complete your request as soon as possible but will notify you if it will take more than 10 business days.  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 record(s).

You may read the Texas Public Information Act here.

Rights of the Public

You have the right to:

  • Prompt access to information that is not confidential or otherwise protected.
  • Receive equal treatment, including accommodation in keeping with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
  • Receive certain kinds of information without exceptions (like the voting record of public officials).
  • Receive a written estimate of charges of more than $40 before work starts. You also have the right to modify your request in response to an itemized statement of charges.
  • Choose to inspect the information (most often at no charge), get copies, or both.
  • Have charges for information reduced or waived if DFPS decides that releasing the information primarily benefits the general public.
  • A copy of the communication from DFPS to the Office of the Attorney General seeking a ruling on whether DFPS can withhold the information you requested (redacted if it contains the information you requested).
  • File a written complaint about overcharges for public information with the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General. All other complaints may be filed with the Travis county district or county attorney.

Responsibilities of DFPS

Like all state and local governments in Texas, DFPS has the responsibility to:

  • Set up reasonable procedures for you to inspect or copy public information and explain these procedures to you.
  • Treat all requestors equally and give them reasonable comfort and access, including meeting the needs of people with disabilities.
  • To make sure its employees understand and follow open records laws.
  • Give you an estimate of charges greater than $40, notify you when charges are more than 20 percent above the estimate, confirm that you accept the charges, want to change your request, or are filing a complaint about the charges to the Attorney General before completing your request.
  • Notify you if DFPS cannot provide the information promptly and set a reasonable date and time for providing it.
  • Ask for a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General on any information DFPS wishes to withhold, and send a copy of the request for a ruling (or a redacted copy) to the requestor.
  • Separate public information from any information DFPS is withholding and provide the public information to you promptly.
  • Make good faith efforts to inform third parties when someone is requesting their proprietary information.
  • Respond in writing to all written communications from the Office of the Attorney General about charges for the information.
  • Respond to the Office of the Attorney General about complaints about violations of the Public Information Act.

Requesting a Copy of Case Records

DFPS must comply with all statutes and rules on 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 Child Protective Services.
  • 40 TAC §§705.7101-705.7123 for Adult Protective Services.
  • 40 TAC §§745.8481-8493 for Child Care Licensing.

DFPS can only release the case records of children and adults to certain parties. You may or may not be entitled to confidential information depending on your relationship to the case. For more on how to get a copy of a DFPS case record, please click here.

Requesting a Copy of Non-Case Records

If you want information on contracts, statistics, policy matters, personnel records, or other non-case related documents, please click here.

Note: You must make requests for information about DFPS contracts directly to DFPS rather than to the contractor.

Requesting Information for External Research Purposes From Child Protective Services (CPS)

If you want information on how to request information from CPS to conduct research, please click here.

Complaints

Contact the Travis County District Attorney or County Attorney with complaints about DFPS related to releasing public information. You may also contact the Office of the Attorney General's Open Records Hotline at 512-478-6736 or toll-free at 1-877-673-6839.

Members of the News Media

News reporters and other members of the media may contact a DFPS media specialist to assist them with public information requests.

Special Accommodations

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.