S.B. 526: Education Programs in Penal Institutions
S.B. 526 would mandate that entities intending to offer degree or certificate programs to individuals confined in penal institutions or residing in facilities operated by the Texas Civil Commitment Office must obtain approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), pending the governor’s signature. This requirement applies specifically if enrollment in the program would make the person eligible for Pell Grants. The bill defines “penal institution” to include various facilities, and it grants the THECB the authority to establish necessary rules for implementation. If signed by the governor, these changes will go into effect from the 2023-2024 academic year onwards.
S.B. 135: Aiming to Improve Kinship Placements
S.B. 135 aims to rectify a critical issue faced by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) regarding the lack of a centralized record system for the status of home studies conducted on kinship families. The absence of this system has resulted in delays in kinship placements, prolonging the stay of children within the foster care system. Cases have arisen where different caseworkers were unaware of completed home studies in various parts of Texas. Furthermore, the absence of status tracking has led to families missing statutory deadlines and parents being deprived of due process during traditional removal proceedings. To address these challenges, S.B. 135 mandates that DFPS maintain an electronic record of the home study status for potential relatives or designated caregivers. It applies to home studies conducted after the bill’s effective date. Currently awaiting the governor’s signature, the bill’s passage is contingent upon his approval.