Since 2011, the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) has overseen and managed a collaborative video conferencing project between the courts presiding over child abuse and neglect cases, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)/Child Protection Services (CPS) and the residential placement facilities under contract to the DFPS, to facilitate communication between children placed in these facilities and the judges overseeing their cases. OCA hosts and supports the Lifesize video hardware and software required to facilitate video conferencing and access is provided at no cost to the participating courts and placement facilities, thanks to financial support from the Children’s Commission. Video conferencing calls are conducted over a secure link, which differentiates the OCA’s video conferencing from a public network such as Skype or Facetime. OCA maintains a log of calls placed and their duration.
The primary purpose of the video conferencing project is to enable children involved in CPS cases to participate in their court hearings without them being physically present in the courtroom. Appearing in person can be difficult due to placement, transportation barriers and the child’s needs. In 2017, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program offices in Texas were added to the list of facilities set up to accommodate private video conferencing between children and others. This allows CASA to conduct a visual meeting in place of an in-person meeting with a child placed outside the child’s home jurisdiction.
Please note that facilities or participants to a video conferencing call must already be equipped with video conferencing ability in order to schedule and conduct a video conferencing call. If you would like to set up a video conference with a child in a placement which is remote to you, or with a child who is unable to leave his or her placement to meet with you, please check to see if both the participant initiating the video conferencing call and the participant receiving the call are equipped to do so. View a list of currently video-enabled courts, treatment facilities, and CASA program offices, and a list of equipment requirements.