HOUSTON – For so many parents, the long wait is now over.
The COVID vaccine will soon be going into the youngest of arms.
This said, what is the policy for children under 12 who are in the custody of the state?
“To date, I don’t know one,” said Dennis Slate, a board-certified attorney who specializes in child welfare cases in Texas.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services admitted to KPRC 2 Investigates they are “working on a policy,” according to a spokesperson.
The agency expects a policy similar to the one released over the summer for youth 12 and older who are in permanent and temporary custody situations.
“In a temporary situation where the parent’s rights have not been terminated yet, parents still can object to vaccinations,” said Slate.
In the state’s policy for 12 and older - where a parent temporarily lost their rights - the state attempts to call the parents.
“They just have to call, there is no need for a letter. If they get in touch with you, they have to tell you that you have a right to object” said Slate.
The state allows cases workers to leave a voicemail and vaccinate if no one gets back to them within 72 hours. If no voicemail is left, caseworkers must call three times over three days, attempting to contact someone. Slate said the policy has flaws.
“There are a lot of parents that do not trust CPS and do not want to return their calls. Maybe they have been told by lawyers not to return the call or they didn’t get the voicemail, but it gives CPS caseworkers an easy rout to document their file,” Slate said.
Slate said the solution is to have calls made to a family attorney. According to him, 99% of custody cases involve an attorney for the state. Slate believes if the state calls the family’s attorney as well, then there will be an additional ability to track down a parent much faster in hopes of connecting them with the caseworker to express their right.