D. Statutory Requirements for Trauma-Informed Care Training

1. Training for Attorney Ad Litems

As of September 1, 2021, an attorney who is on the list maintained by the court as being qualified for appointment as an attorney ad litem for a child in a child welfare case must provide proof that the attorney has completed a training program regarding trauma-informed care and the effect of trauma on children in DFPS conservatorship. Attorneys should complete the training as soon as practicable once placed on the appointment list. Thereafter, an attorney must provide proof each year of compliance with the statute. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.004(b)-(b-3).

An attorney ad litem is responsible for periodically reviewing the child client's safety and well-being, including effects of trauma to the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.004 (d-3). Attorney ad litem training must include information regarding:

•   The symptoms of trauma and the impact that trauma has on a child, including how trauma may affect a child's development, emotions, memories, behavior, and decision-making;

•   Attachment and how a lack of attachment may affect a child;

•   The role that trauma-informed care and services can have in a child's ability to build connections, feel safe, and regulate the child's emotions to help the child build resiliency and overcome the effects of trauma and adverse childhood experiences;

•   The importance of screening children for trauma and the risk of mislabeling and inappropriate treatment of children without proper screening, including the risks and benefits associated with the use of psychotropic medication;

•   The potential for re-traumatization of children in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services; and

•   The availability of:

◦   research-supported, trauma-informed, non-pharmacological interventions; and

◦   trauma-informed advocacy to increase a child's access, while the child is in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services, to:

▪   trauma-informed care; and

▪   trauma-informed mental and behavioral health services. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.004(b-4).

2. DFPS Training

In 2011, the Texas Family Code was amended to require DFPS to include training in trauma-informed programs and services in any training which DFPS provides to foster parents, adoptive parents, kinship caregivers, department caseworkers, and department supervisors. Tex. Fam. Code § 264.015.

DFPS caseworkers are required to complete an initial, in-person training on trauma-informed care during their basic skills development training and an annual refresher course online. Supervisors and mentors are also required to complete a secondary trauma training. DFPS internal learning management system offers several optional trainings on trauma-related topics.

3. Residential Child Care Contract (RCCC) Requirements

As of September 1, 2015, DFPS required all caregivers and employees who are subject to RCCC for direct care to complete:

•   At least eight hours of trauma-informed care training prior to being the only caregiver responsible for children; and

•   At least two hours of trauma-informed care annually, and contractors may select their own curriculum/model for the annual refresher training.[160]

Since 2015, DFPS and SSCC organizations are required to institute a comprehensive psychosocial assessment tool to assess all children who enter the foster care system within 45 days. The tool must include a trauma assessment and an interview with at least one individual who knows the child. DFPS utilizes the CANS 2.0 to assess children and youth placed in substitute care ages 3 to 17 years within 30 days. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.012.

4. Related Fields

Since 2013, the Texas Human Resources Code requires trauma-informed care training for certain staff of county and state juvenile facilities, including probation officers, supervision officers, correctional officers, parole officers and court-supervised community-based program personnel. Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 221.002(c-1) and Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 221.0061.