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  By: Jetton, Isaac, Swanson H.B. No. 1667
        (Senate Sponsor - Paxton)
         (In the Senate - Received from the House May 12, 2023;
  May 12, 2023, read first time and referred to Committee on Health &
  Human Services; May 21, 2023, reported favorably by the following
  vote:  Yeas 9, Nays 0; May 21, 2023, sent to printer.)
Click here to see the committee vote
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
 
  relating to the reporting of child abuse or neglect.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 104.007(a), Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  In this section, "professional" has the meaning
  assigned by Section 261.101(a) [261.101(b)].
         SECTION 2.  Section 261.101, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 261.101.  PROFESSIONALS [PERSONS] REQUIRED TO REPORT;
  TIME TO REPORT. (a) In this section, "professional" means an
  individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an
  employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the
  state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for
  which a license or certification is required, has direct contact
  with children. The term includes teachers, nurses, doctors,
  day-care employees, employees of a clinic or health care facility
  that provides reproductive services, juvenile probation officers,
  and juvenile detention or correctional officers [A person having
  reasonable cause to believe that a child's physical or mental
  health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by
  any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this
  subchapter].
         (b)  Except as provided by Section 261.1031, [If] a
  professional shall make a report as provided by this subchapter if
  the professional has reasonable cause to believe that a child has
  been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected not later
  than the 48th hour after the hour the professional first has
  reasonable cause to believe that the child has been or may be abused
  or neglected[, or that a child is a victim of an offense under
  Section 21.11, Penal Code, and the professional has reasonable
  cause to believe that the child has been abused as defined by
  Section 261.001, the professional shall make a report not later
  than the 48th hour after the hour the professional first has
  reasonable cause to believe that the child has been or may be abused
  or neglected or is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal
  Code].
         (b-1)  A professional may not delegate to or rely on another
  person to make the report required by this section. [In this
  subsection, "professional" means an individual who is licensed or
  certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed,
  certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of
  official duties or duties for which a license or certification is
  required, has direct contact with children. The term includes
  teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees, employees of a
  clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services,
  juvenile probation officers, and juvenile detention or
  correctional officers.]
         (b-2) [(b-1)]  In addition to the duty to make a report under
  Subsection [(a) or] (b), a [person or] professional shall make a
  report in the manner required by Subsection [(a) or] (b)[, as
  applicable,] if the [person or] professional has reasonable cause
  to believe that an adult was a victim of abuse or neglect as a child
  and the [person or] professional determines in good faith that
  disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health
  and safety of:
               (1)  another child; or
               (2)  an elderly person or person with a disability as
  defined by Section 48.002, Human Resources Code.
         (c)  The requirement to report under this section applies
  without exception to a professional [an individual] whose personal
  communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney,
  a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a
  mental health professional, an employee or member of a board that
  licenses or certifies a professional, and an employee of a clinic or
  health care facility that provides reproductive services.
         (d)  Unless waived in writing by the professional [person]
  making the report, the identity of a professional [an individual]
  making a report under this chapter is confidential and may be
  disclosed only:
               (1)  as provided by Section 261.201; or
               (2)  to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of
  conducting a criminal investigation of the report.
         SECTION 3.  Subchapter B, Chapter 261, Family Code, is
  amended by adding Section 261.1011 to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.1011.  OTHER REPORTS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT. (a) A
  person who is not a professional as defined by Section 261.101:
               (1)  shall make a report as provided by this subchapter
  if the person witnesses the sexual abuse, sexual assault, or
  physical abuse of a child by any person; and
               (2)  may make a report as provided by this subchapter if
  the person has reasonable cause to believe that a child's physical
  or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or
  neglect by any person.
         (b)  The identity of a person making a report under this
  section is confidential and may be disclosed only:
               (1)  as provided by Section 261.201;
               (2)  to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of
  conducting a criminal investigation of the report; or
               (3)  if the person authorizes the disclosure in
  writing.
         SECTION 4.  Section 261.102, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 261.102.  MATTERS TO BE REPORTED. (a) A report should
  reflect the reporter's belief that a child has been or may be abused
  or neglected or has died of abuse or neglect.
         (b)  A person is not required to report concerns that:
               (1)  are solely related to:
                     (A)  a child's behavior;
                     (B)  truancy; or
                     (C)  conditions of poverty, including a lack of
  adequate clothing, housing instability, or lack of utilities in the
  child's home; and
               (2)  do not adversely affect the child's physical or
  mental health or welfare.
         SECTION 5.  Subchapter B, Chapter 261, Family Code, is
  amended by adding Section 261.1021 to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.1021.  REQUIRED TRAINING. (a) Professionals
  required to make a report under Section 261.101 must receive
  training regarding reporting requirements under this subchapter.
  The training must include information regarding:
               (1)  matters to be reported under Section 261.102;
               (2)  alternatives to reporting and matters that may be
  referred to community-based prevention or family preservation
  services providers under Section 261.1031; and
               (3)  the procedures for making a report required under
  this subchapter.
         (b)  The department shall develop a training program for
  professionals required to make a report under Section 261.101 that
  includes the information required under Subsection (a).
         SECTION 6.  Section 261.103(a), Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (c) and
  Sections 261.1031 and [Section] 261.405, a report shall be made to:
               (1)  any local or state law enforcement agency;
               (2)  the department; or
               (3)  the state agency that operates, licenses,
  certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or
  neglect occurred.
         SECTION 7.  Subchapter B, Chapter 261, Family Code, is
  amended by adding Sections 261.1031 and 261.1032 to read as
  follows:
         Sec. 261.1031.  REFERRAL TO COMMUNITY-BASED PREVENTION OR
  FAMILY PRESERVATION SERVICES PROVIDER. (a) Except as provided by
  Subsection (d), a professional required to make a report under
  Section 261.101(b) may refer the family to a community-based
  prevention or family preservation services provider instead of the
  entities listed under Section 261.103(a) if the professional has
  reasonable cause to believe the child is not at risk of abuse or
  neglect based on concerns described by Section 261.102(b).
         (b)  A professional who makes a referral under this section
  shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the family who is the
  subject of the referral is connected with an appropriate
  community-based prevention or family preservation services
  provider.
         (c)  A community-based prevention or family preservation
  services provider that receives a referral under Subsection (a)
  shall make reasonable efforts to provide appropriate resources or
  referrals to enhance the parents' ability to provide a safe and
  stable home environment for a child who is the subject of the
  referral.
         (d)  This section does not apply to cases in which a
  professional has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been
  or may be subjected to aggravated circumstances as described by
  Section 262.2015.
         (e)  Nothing in this section may be construed to require a
  community-based prevention or family preservation services
  provider to provide services that the provider does not have the
  resources, including funding, to provide.
         Sec. 261.1032.  IMPLEMENTATION STUDY AUTHORIZED. (a) The
  department may, in collaboration with single source continuum
  contractors, local or regional helplines, hospital systems,
  independent school districts, law enforcement agencies, and
  community-based prevention or family preservation services
  providers, study the implementation of Section 261.1031 in at least
  one child protective services region in which community-based care
  has been implemented under Subchapter B-1, Chapter 264.  A study
  under this section must:
               (1)  explore and identify strategies for maximizing
  referrals for and delivery of community-based prevention or family
  preservation services in the region;
               (2)  determine whether a directory of community-based
  prevention or family preservation resources has been established;
               (3)  assess the effectiveness of community-based
  prevention or family preservation services at promoting child
  safety and preventing entry into foster care;
               (4)  assess the effect that community education and
  promotion of the referral process under Section 261.1031 had on the
  number of families that received a referral for community-based
  prevention or family preservation services;
               (5)  determine whether the training required under
  Section 261.1021 is being provided;
               (6)  determine whether best practices for efficiently
  connecting families with community-based prevention or family
  preservation services providers have been developed;
               (7)  identify gaps in the availability of
  community-based prevention or family preservation services in the
  region; and
               (8)  recommend strategies for increasing the
  availability of effective community-based prevention or family
  preservation services in the region.
         (b)  Not later than November 1 of the calendar year in which a
  study authorized under this section is conducted, the department
  shall prepare and submit a report of the study to the governor, the
  lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house of representatives,
  and the chairs of the house and senate committees with primary
  jurisdiction over the department.
         (c)  The department may conduct a study under this section
  only using federal or private grant funds. The department shall
  explore and seek opportunities for obtaining federal and private
  funds to perform a study under this section.
         SECTION 8.  Section 261.104, Family Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 261.104.  CONTENTS OF REPORT. (a) The person making a
  report shall provide the following information [identify], if
  known, to the agency to which the report is made:
               (1)  the name and address of the child;
               (2)  the name and address of the person responsible for
  the care, custody, or welfare of the child; [and]
               (3)  the reporting person's name and contact
  information; and
               (4)  any other pertinent information concerning the
  alleged or suspected abuse or neglect.
         (b)  The department shall make reasonable efforts to obtain
  the information required under Subsection (a). If the department
  is unable to obtain the reporting person's name and contact
  information, the department may investigate the report as provided
  by Section 261.304.
         SECTION 9.  Subchapter B, Chapter 261, Family Code, is
  amended by adding Section 261.1041 to read as follows:
         Sec. 261.1041.  REQUIRED DISCLOSURES. An agency or
  organization receiving a report of child abuse or neglect shall
  inform the person making the report that:
               (1)  the person is required to provide the person's name
  and contact information to the agency or organization;
               (2)  the person's identity is confidential and may be
  disclosed only as provided by Section 261.101(d) or 261.1011(b);
  and
               (3)  knowingly making a false report with the intent to
  deceive is a criminal offense under Section 261.107.
         SECTION 10.  Section 261.109, Family Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 261.109.  FAILURE TO REPORT; PENALTY. (a) A person who
  is a professional as defined by Section 261.101(a) commits an
  offense if the person is required to make a report under Section
  261.101(b) [261.101(a)] and knowingly fails to make a report as
  provided in this chapter.
         (a-1)  A person who is a professional as defined by Section
  261.101(a) who [261.101(b) commits an offense if the person] is
  required to make a report under Section 261.101(b) does not commit
  an offense if the person refers the child's family to an appropriate
  community-based prevention or family preservation services
  provider as provided by Section 261.1031 instead of making the
  required [and knowingly fails to make a] report [as provided in this
  chapter].
         (b)  An offense under Subsection (a) is a Class A
  misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if it is
  shown on the trial of the offense that:
               (1)  the child was a person with an intellectual
  disability who resided in a state supported living center, the
  ICF-IID component of the Rio Grande State Center, or a facility
  licensed under Chapter 252, Health and Safety Code, and the actor
  knew that the child had suffered serious bodily injury as a result
  of the abuse or neglect; or
               (2)  [.
         [(c)  An offense under Subsection (a-1) is a Class A
  misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if it is
  shown on the trial of the offense that] the actor intended to
  conceal the abuse or neglect.
         SECTION 11.  Section 261.110(a)(2), Family Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
               (2)  "Professional" has the meaning assigned by Section
  261.101(a) [261.101(b)].
         SECTION 12.  Section 261.201(b-1), Family Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (b-1)  On a motion of one of the parties in a contested case
  before an administrative law judge relating to the license or
  certification of a professional, as defined by Section 261.101(a)
  [261.101(b)], or an educator, as defined by Section 5.001,
  Education Code, the administrative law judge may order the
  disclosure of information that is confidential under this section
  that relates to the matter before the administrative law judge
  after a hearing for which notice is provided as required by
  Subsection (b)(2) and making the review and determination required
  by Subsection (b)(3). Before the department may release
  information under this subsection, the department must edit the
  information to protect the confidentiality of the identity of any
  person who makes a report of abuse or neglect.
         SECTION 13.  The changes in law made by this Act apply only
  to a report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child that is made on
  or after the effective date of this Act. A report of suspected
  abuse or neglect that is made before that date is governed by the
  law in effect on the date the report was made, and that law is
  continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 14.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2023.
 
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