84R2860 MK-D
  By: Kolkhorst S.B. No. 830
  relating to the establishment of an office of consumer affairs for
  children in foster care.
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 531, Government Code, is amended by
  adding Subchapter Y to read as follows:
         Sec. 531.991.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  "Department" means the Department of Family and
  Protective Services.
               (2)  "Office" means the office of consumer affairs for
  children in foster care.
         Sec. 531.992.  OFFICE; STAFF. (a) The office of consumer
  affairs for children in foster care is an office in the commission.
         (b)  The executive commissioner shall employ staff as needed
  to carry out the duties of the office.
         Sec. 531.993.  DUTIES OF OFFICE. The office shall:
               (1)  develop statewide procedures in order to receive
  inquiries and complaints from children in the conservatorship of
  the department;
               (2)  review complaints and inquiries filed with the
  office relating to a child in the conservatorship of the
               (3)  investigate each complaint described by
  Subdivision (2);
               (4)  if a complaint filed with the office alleges the
  abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child, assist the child making
  the complaint in reporting the allegation to the department and
  open a case for the duration of the department's investigation of
  the allegation;
               (5)  issue and file with the department a final report
  that contains the office's final determination of a complaint's
  merit and any recommended corrective actions to be taken by the
  department; and
               (6)  establish a secure form of communication with a
  child who files a complaint with the office in order to ensure that
  the child is informed of the results of the office's investigation
  of the child's complaint, including whether the office was able to
  substantiate the child's complaint.
  during the investigation of a complaint the office discovers
  unreported violations of the department's rules and policies, the
  office shall open a new investigation for each unreported
         Sec. 531.995.  ACCESS TO INFORMATION. The department shall
  provide the office access to the department's records that relate
  to a complaint the office is investigating.
         Sec. 531.996.  COMMUNICATION AND CONFIDENTIALITY. (a) The
  department shall allow any department employee and any child in the
  conservatorship of the department to communicate with the office.
  The communication:
               (1)  may be in person, by telephone, by mail, or by any
  other means; and
               (2)  is confidential and privileged.
         (b)  The records of the office are confidential, except that
  the office shall disclose the office's records if required by a
  court order on a showing of good cause.
         (c)  The office may make public reports relating to an
  investigation after the investigation is complete. The office shall
  redact the names of all children, parents, and employees from the
  report and maintain the confidentiality of that information.
         Sec. 531.997.  RETALIATION PROHIBITED. (a) The department
  may not retaliate against a department employee or any other person
  who in good faith makes an inquiry or complaint to the office or
  cooperates with the office in an investigation.
         (b)  The office shall collaborate with the division of the
  department responsible for child care licensing to create
  consequences, based on the extent of the offense and the severity of
  the retaliation, for any person who is found to have engaged in
  retaliation against a child in the conservatorship of the
         Sec. 531.998.  PROMOTION OF OFFICE. (a) The office shall
  annually develop and implement an outreach plan to promote
  awareness among the public, children, and all facilities licensed
  by the department of: 
               (1)  the purpose of the office;
               (2)  the services the office provides; and
               (3)  how the office may be contacted.
         (b)  The office shall ensure that:
               (1)  all residential facilities in which children in
  the conservatorship of the department are placed display
  information about the office and the process for filing a complaint
  with the office in a location that is easily accessible to children
  residing at the facility; and
               (2)  information about the office and the complaint
  process is provided to:
                     (A)  guardians ad litem and court appointed
  special advocates for children in the conservatorship of the
  department; and
                     (B)  staff members of the department.
         Sec. 531.999.  REPORT. (a) The office shall prepare an
  annual report that contains: 
               (1)  a description of the office's work, including a
  summary of each complaint the office received and investigated and
  the manner in which each complaint was resolved;
               (2)  any change made by the department, either at the
  regional or statewide level, in response to a substantiated
  complaint against the department; 
               (3)  a description of any trends in the nature of
  inquiries or complaints received by the office and any policy
  recommendations related to addressing those trends;
               (4)  a glossary of terms used in the report; 
               (5)  a description of the methods used to promote
  awareness of the office under Section 531.998 and the office's
  promotion plan for the next year; and
               (6)  any public feedback received by the office
  relating to the office's previous annual reports.
         (b)  The report must be submitted to the executive
  commissioner and the commissioner of the department not later than
  October 1 of each year. On receipt of the report, the department
  shall make the report publicly available on the department's
  Internet website.
         SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2015.