D. Testimony from Forensic Assessment Center Network (FACN)

Allegations of abuse and neglect in medically complex cases are typically generated by an intake report received from hospital personnel or medical providers, such as a child's pediatrician.

DFPS utilizes the Forensic Assessment Center Network (FACN) in complex medical cases. The FACN was established by DFPS in 2006 to make specialized pediatricians available for consultation to DFPS and HHSC's Child Care Licensing in cases of suspected child abuse and neglect. The FACN is managed by the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth)- Houston McGovern Medical School, in coordination with UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, UT Medical Branch at Galveston, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dell Children's Medical Center at Austin, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Lubbock.

The FACN requires consultations with physicians who are board certified in a relevant field or specialty, including radiologists, geneticists, orthopedists, and endocrinologists. Physicians must also have experience in diagnosing treating certain specific conditions such as rickets, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and other medical conditions that mimic child maltreatment or increase the risk of misdiagnosis of child maltreatment. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.3017(b). More information about referrals to the FACN is available in CPS Policy Handbook §2232 and the DFPS Forensic Assessment Center Network (FACN) Resource Guide.[18]

A health care provider who makes a report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child may not provide forensic assessment services in connection with an investigation arising from the report. This applies regardless of whether the health practitioner is a member of the FACN. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.30175(b).

An exigent removal of a child may not be based solely on the opinion of a medical professional under contract with DFPS who did not conduct a physical examination of the child. However, if the physician who conducted the physical examination and the FACN physician both agree that abuse or neglect occurred, both opinions may be used for an emergency removal. CPS Policy Handbook §2232.5.[19]