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RULE §749.1003What rights does a child in care have?

(a) A child's rights are cumulative of any other rights granted by law or other Licensing rules.

(b) The following categories include the child's rights that you must adhere to:

  (1) Safety and care, including:

    (A) The right to good care and treatment that meets the child's needs in the most family-like setting possible;

    (B) The right to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and

    (C) The right to fair treatment;

  (2) Family contacts, including the right to maintain regular contact with the child's parents and siblings, unless restrictions are necessary because of the child's best interest, the decision of an appropriate professional, or a court order;

  (3) Living a normal life, including:

    (A) The right to speak and be spoken to in the child's own language, including Braille if the child is blind or sign language if the child is deaf. This should also occur within a reasonable time after an emergency admission of a child, if applicable. You must make every effort to place a child with foster parent(s) who can communicate with the child. If these efforts are not successful, you must document in the preliminary service plan your plan to meet the communication needs of the child;

    (B) The right to receive educational services appropriate to the child's age and developmental level;

    (C) The right to have the child's religious needs met;

    (D) The right to participate in childhood activities, including foster family activities and activities away from the foster home and the foster parents, that are appropriate for the child's age, maturity, and developmental level;

    (E) The right to privacy, including sending and receiving unopened mail, making and receiving phone calls, keeping a personal journal, and having visitors, unless the child's best interest, appropriate professionals, or court order necessitates restrictions;

    (F) The right to personal care, hygiene, and grooming equipment and supplies and training in how to use them;

    (G) The right to have comfortable clothing, which is suitable to the child's age and size and similar to the clothing of other children in the community. Teenagers should have reasonable opportunities to select the clothing;

    (H) The right to clothing that protects the child against the weather;

    (I) The right to have personal items at the child's home and to get additional things within reasonable limits;

    (J) The right to personal space in the child's bedroom to store clothes and belongings;

    (K) The right to be informed of search policies and be free of unreasonable searches and unreasonable removal of personal items;

    (L) Depending on the child's age and maturity, the right to seek employment, keep the child's own money, have a bank account in the child's name, and get paid for any work done for the agency or home as part of the child's service plan or vocational training, with the exception of assigned routine duties that relate to the child's living environment, such as cleaning the child's room, or other chores, or work assigned as a disciplinary measure;

    (M) The right to consent in writing before taking part in any publicity or fund raising activity for the foster home or agency, including the use of the child's photograph;

    (N) The right to refuse to make public statements showing gratitude to the foster home or agency; and

    (O) The right to not be pressured to get an abortion, give up her child for adoption, or parent her child, if applicable;

  (4) Discipline, including:

    (A) The right to be free from any harsh, cruel, unusual, unnecessary, demeaning, or humiliating treatment or punishment. This means the child must not be:

      (i) Shaken;

      (ii) Subjected to or threatened with corporal punishment, including spanking or hitting the child;

      (iii) Forced to do unproductive work that serves no purpose except to demean the child, such as moving rocks from one pile to another or digging a hole and then filling it in;

      (iv) Denied food, sleep, a bathroom, mail, or family visits as punishment;

      (v) Subjected to remarks that belittle or ridicule the child or the child's family;

      (vi) Threatened with the loss of placement or shelter as punishment; and

      (vii) Subjected to demeaning behavior to embarrass, control, harm, intimidate, or isolate the child. "Demeaning behavior" may include using physical force, rumors, threats, or inappropriate comments;

    (B) The right to discipline that is appropriate to the child's age, maturity, and developmental level; and

    (C) The right to have restrictions or disciplinary policies explained to the child at admittance and when the measures are imposed;

  (5) Plans for the child while in care, including:

    (A) The right to have a comprehensive service plan that addresses the child's needs, including transitional and discharge planning; and

    (B) The right to actively participate in the development of the child's service plan within the limits of the child's comprehension and ability to manage the information. The child has the right to a copy or summary of the plan. A child 14 years of age or older has the right to review and sign the service plan;

  (6) Medical care and records, including:

    (A) The right to medical, dental, vision, and mental health care and developmental services that adequately meet the child's needs. The right to request that the care or services be separate from adults (other than young adults) who are receiving services;

    (B) The right to be free of unnecessary or excessive medication; and

    (C) The right to confidential care and treatment, including keeping medical records and agency records private and only discussing them when it is about the child's care; and

  (7) Complaints, including the right to make calls, reports, or complaints without interference, coercion, punishment, retaliation, or threats of punishment or retaliation. The child may make these calls, reports, or complaints anonymously. Depending upon the nature of the complaint, the child has the right to call, report, or complain to:

    (A) The DFPS Texas Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-5400;

    (B) The HHSC Ombusman for Children and Youth Currently in Foster Care at 1-844-286-0769;

    (C) The DFPS Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-720-7777; or

    (D) Disability Rights of Texas at 1-800-252-9108.

Source Note: The provisions of this §749.1003 adopted to be effective January 1, 2017, 41TexReg 9944; transferred effective March 9, 2018, as published in the Texas Register February 16, 2018, 43 TexReg 909

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