Kincare Forms for Voluntary Non-Parent Caregivers

As summer approaches, requests for information about the supervision of a child by a non-parent caregiver are on the rise. Fortunately, TexasLawHelp.org and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services have the forms and information that grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, and other blood relatives may use to establish their rights as caregivers. These rights, which are put into place as part of the Kincare program*, allow a voluntary non-parent caregiver to enroll a child in school or daycare, make decisions regarding his or her medical well-being, sign school permission slips, and take other steps to ensure the child's welfare and safety.

To learn more about the Kincare program, TexasLawHelp.org is the perfect place to start. Download a copy of the Texas Kincare Primer to find answers to commonly asked questions about the authorization agreement for non-parent or voluntary caregivers.  Also available on TexasLawHelp.org is a form for consent to medical treatment by a non-parent or voluntary caregiver. Take a look at both forms to determine which will best meet your needs and the needs of the child in your care.

As always, if you have any questions about the Kincare program, we recommend that you consult an attorney. The Harris County Law Library partners with the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, who provide free legal assistance for this or any civil legal concern five days a week in the basement at 1019 Congress. Volunteer lawyers are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm on a first-come, first-served basis.

*Please note that the Kincare program is different from the Kinship Care program, which is designed for children in CPS care. For information about the Kinship Care program, please visit the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website. 

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Mediation at the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center

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Alternative Dispute Resolution can be a helpful way to handle conflict between two parties in a disagreement. It's often a good and less expensive alternative to hiring an attorney and taking your case to court.  The Harris County Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), which is sponsored by the Houston Bar Association and funded through the Harris County Courts System, offers mediation for general disputes, divorce, and active civil cases, free of charge to Harris County residents. (For examples of the kinds of disputes handled in each category, please refer to the list at left.)

Mediation for general disputes typically involves money, automobiles, landlord/tenant issues, or property damage. The DRC mediation program for general disputes is for resolving disagreements before a lawsuit is filed.

Divorce mediation is for all issues related to divorce either before or after a suit is filed. Child custody, child support, and visitation can be addressed through mediation, along with related family law matters such as property division, common law separations, and LGBT divorce issues. 

For mediation in active civil cases, the DRC can only mediate for parties with a court pleading or disputed dollar amount of $100,000 or less. Also, the Dispute Resolution Center does not mediate suits involving more than three named parties.

Other types of disputes that can be resolved through mediation typically involve Children’s Protective Services, juveniles, special education, or truancy. To speak with a Case Manager and request mediation for any of the issues mentioned above, please contact the Dispute Resolution Center at 713-755-8274 (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) or email email@drchouston.org and briefly explain the nature of your dispute.

Houston Bar Association & Houston Volunteer Lawyers Help the Community

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June marked the end of the Houston Bar Association's calendar of activities. Looking back, it's clear to see that the HBA was quite active indeed, providing valuable service to HBA members, the profession, and the public. 

Houston Volunteer Lawyers provided in-person, one-on-one legal advice to more than 6,100 applicants at no expense to those served. Nearly 1,200 cases were referred to pro bono attorneys for long-term representation. Over 2,300 of those helped were U.S. veterans or spouses of deceased veterans.

HVL also assisted 6,561 pro se litigants with family law matters at the courthouse information both on the 17th floor of the Civil Courthouse, and expanded the pro se clinic to the Harris County Law Library where attorneys now meet with self-represented litigants five days a week from 9:00 am - 12:00 noon on a first come-first served basis. 

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More than 700 LegalLine volunteers answered 5,386 calls from residents of Harris County, and the Houston Lawyer Referral service made over 26,000 referrals to attorneys and other agencies. 

These are just a few of HBA's achievements over the last twelve months. Additional successes of the previous year are detailed in the May/June 2017 issue of the Houston Lawyer magazine. See page six for President Neil Kelly's message where he reflects on the HBA's service to its members, its initiatives in educating the public about the law, and its efforts to help the residents of Harris County. 

HVL Self Help Divorce Clinic, August 18

August is Self-Help Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library. As a service to the community and the residents of Harris County, the Houston Volunteer Lawyers are hosting a Self Help Divorce Clinic on August 18th at 1019 Congress Avenue. Details are provided below.

Are you filing for divorce? Are you representing yourself because you cannot afford an attorney? Do you and your spouse agree to the divorce? The Houston Volunteer Lawyers can help. Sign up for the HVL Self Help Divorce Clinic, and meet with a volunteer attorney, one-on-one, to prepare what you need to complete your own divorce.

WHEN:         August 18, 2017 9:00 a.m.

WHERE:       HARRIS COUNTY LAW LIBRARY (1019 Congress Avenue)

To sign up, complete this questionnaire.

If your case qualifies, a Houston Volunteer Lawyers staff member will call you to confirm that you qualify and to schedule your clinic appointment.