From the Imprint–Child protective services officials in Texas can no longer remove a child from their family just because a parent tested positive for cannabis.

That’s one provision of a broader child welfare bill that became law recently without the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Another significant change establishes a formal definition of the term “neglect” such that a parent’s actions (or lack thereof) must result in actual harm to a child or create an “immediate” danger of harm before a child could be removed. Previously, child protective services had to show only a “substantial risk” to the child’s safety.

The definition would also require that a parent showed “blatant disregard for the consequences” on the child for their action or inaction.Backers of House Bill 567 say the new law would help the Department of Family and Protective Services balance its duty to remove children who are in danger with the equally vital task of leaving families intact if it can be done safely.

Research shows that kids suffer trauma when they are removed from their homes for even a few months. The narrower definition of neglect and other parts of the bill represents an attempt to put Texas more in line with federal policy under the Family First Prevention Services Act. That law seeks to identify at-risk families and provide them with services and support before their problems get so bad that child protective services determine they must file for termination of parental rights.

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