Hill Country Ad Litem Seminar


april 2021 update: if you missed the seminar and wish to watch the videos for cle/ceu credit, register here and amy will send you the links.


The Child Protection Court of South Texas

and Hill Country CASA

are pleased to announce THE

11th Annual hill country Ad Litem Seminar

february 25-26, 2021 via zoom videoconference


General information / Faqs for attendees

The Seminar is 12 continuing education hours, over 2 days.

CLEs for Attorneys Reporting to State Bar- Attorneys will need to self-report their hours this year. We will provide the course number during the Seminar. If you missed it, email Amy Harding, HCCASA Volunteer Coordinator, amy@hccasa.org.

CEUs for Non-Attorneys – your agency will be sent a printable certificate of attendance. If you need a copy of this, contact Amy.

If you missed a session OR want to take the Seminar at-your-own-pace – your registration will include access to the Seminar’s video showcase for 12 months following the Seminar, under password protection.



during the live event, a 30 minute break will be provided between each session, and 1 hour midday for lunch.


Thursday’s schedule (6.0 CLE):

8:30 AM – Substance Abuse and it’s impact on parenting: a medical perspective (Dr. Elizabeth Oehler – Emergency Room Physician, Peterson Regional Medical Center, Kerrville) Dr. Oehler Slides

Dr. Oehler will help participants understand why people use illicit substances and how these affect the body with regards to decision making, protective ability, judgement, risk taking and parenting. Dr. Oehler will talk about what addiction really is, if willpower is enough for an addict to stop using substances, and what the addict needs to remain sober. This discussion will also explore what makes people more likely to become addicted, and preferred treatment options based on substances used.

10:30 AM – Psychotropic Medications (Dr. Lizmarie Gonzales-Vega – Medical Director, Clarity Child Guidance Center, San Antonio) Dr. Vega Slides

Dr. Gonzalez-Vega will guide participants through the different types of psychotropic medications available and how they work. Dr. Gonzalez-Vega will discuss best practices for balancing medication and therapy when working with adolescents who have experienced trauma. This discussion will also explore ways to communicate with prescribing physicians, so that they have an understanding of the CPS case permanency goal.

1:30 pM – Healing the Family when substance abuse is a case factor (Kristen Walker, B.S., LCDC – formerly with La Hacienda treatment center, Hunt)  Walker Slides

Ms. Walker will discuss how the family (including children) are impacted by addiction, provide relapse statistics, and share various consequences if the entire family is not included in treatment planning and support. This discussion will include steps to processing and healing the family, how to recognize and react to relapse, and how to support sobriety.

3:30 PM – effective client engagement in child abuse and neglect cases (Sonja Sims, J.D. – partner at sims & purzer, attorneys at law, san antonio)  Sims Slides

Ms. Simms will discuss best practices in legal case management, practice management, and CPS case workflow. This topic will focus on enhancing the quality and efficiency of service to clients by delivering effective legal services and building the attorney/client relationship.

Sonja’s Additional Materials for Attendees:

What You Should Know about your Child Abuse, Neglect or CPS Case

Profile of a CPS Suit

CPS Case Flow Chart

Tips for Attorneys and Advocates

CPS AAL Case Worksheet

Case Update Worksheet



friday’s schedule (6.0 CLE):

8:30 AM – family first prevention services act panel discussion (panelists from Casey Family services, san antonio)  Casey FFPSA Panel Slides

Panelists will provide a national-level update on the Families First Prevention Act, and will discuss  Texas’ latest actions regarding this federal legislation. The panelists will also discuss the current state of affairs at CPS, and what is on the horizon for Texas foster youth.

11:00 AM – case law update (Eric Tai, J.D. and other dFPS regional attorneys, CPS Region 8)  Case Law Slides

The TDFPS Appellate Attorneys will provide a case law update.

Eric’s Additional Materials for Attendees:

2020 Advanced Family Paper

1:00 PM – community based care providers panel Discussion (Raquel Garza-Martinez, Family Tapestry; Kris Naylor, OCOK; Brenda Watkins and Ellen Letts, tDFPS)

Community Based Care contract providers from OCOK and Family Tapestry, and DFPS staff will share their successes and challenges as Texas transitions to privatized foster care, and best practices and things to consider as more regions in Texas move toward the private foster care model. They will also share what’s on the horizon for their agencies, and the Texas foster youth in their regions.

3:30 PM – special presentation from child protection court of south texas (Honorable Robert Falkenberg, presiding over kerr, kendall, bandera, gillespie, uvalde, medina and real counties)  Judge Falkenberg Slides



please take a moment to complete the 2021 Seminar Attendee Evaluation  – this helps us plan future seminars! thank you!