Chairman Brady and Senator Cornyn Introduce the COURTS Act

November 30, 2017 — Press Releases   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Continuation of Useful Resources To States Act (H.R. 4461/ S.2173).  The COURTS Act will extend and permanently fund the Court Improvement Program and provide much-needed certainty to courts handling child welfare cases. The COURTS Act was introduced on November 28th in the House by Chairman Brady, and on November 29th in the Senate by Senator Cornyn.

“We must do everything possible to help children who have faced abuse and neglect,” said Chairman Brady. “The COURTS Act provides certainty to the very people working in the court system to ensure families in child welfare cases not only get the support they need, but they get that support quickly. I am grateful for my fellow Texans, Senator Cornyn and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of the state Supreme Court, for working with me to permanently fund the Court Improvement Program on behalf of vulnerable children in our state and across the country. I look forward to advancing our legislation in the House and the Senate.”

“We must do everything we can to protect our nation’s most vulnerable,” said Senator Cornyn. “By extending the Court Improvement Program, we can ensure that more children in these cases receive a timely resolution, the benefit of trained legal professionals, and most importantly, support for themselves and their families.  The safety and support of children has been my top priority since my time as Texas Attorney General, and I look forward to continuing that work with Chairman Brady on this bill.”

CLICK HERE to read the House bill text.

CLICK HERE to read the Senate bill text.

Background

This bill extends and permanently funds the Court Improvement Program, which provides grants to the highest court in any state operating a Title IV-E child welfare program. These formula grants provide additional resources that allow courts to make improvements in their handling of child welfare-related proceedings. Children across the country have benefited from this funding, as courts have been able to improve and expedite the processing of child abuse and neglect cases with the goal of placing children in permanent and safe homes and improving outcomes for children and families.

These grants are designed to:

  • Train judges, attorneys, and legal personnel in handling of child welfare cases;
  • Increase timeliness of court decisions regarding the safety, permanence, and well-being of children (through collection and analysis of relevant data); and
  • Improve engagement of families in court proceedings related to child welfare generally, including proceedings concerning family preservation, reunification, or adoption.

CLICK HERE to read a letter in support of the COURTS Act from the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators and CLICK HERE to read their accompanying resolution.