This article was published in partnership with the Houston Chronicle.
HOUSTON — Texas child welfare workers and family courts will be required to consider additional medical opinions before taking children from parents in cases of suspected child abuse, under a new law going into effect Sept. 1.
The law, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday, also orders a state commission to study the work of state-funded doctors who are tasked with diagnosing child abuse. The commission will propose improvements to the process that Texas Child Protective Services workers follow when relying on these doctors’ medical reports.
The legislation follows a 2019 NBC News and Houston Chronicle investigation into the plight of parents who were accused of abuse based on mistaken reports by doctors. State Rep. James Frank, a Republican from Wichita Falls and one of the bill’s sponsors, said its goal is to prevent CPS from taking children from parents based on flawed or incomplete medical reports.
“False removals are traumatic for kids first and foremost, but also for their parents,” he said. “So we have to be more precise in the way we go through the removal process. I think sometimes when an expert in a white suit says something, there’s a tendency for CPS to go, ‘They're 100 percent right.’ But that’s not always the case.”