You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Dozens of bills filed to fix Texas CPS, foster care system


Highlights

Advocacy groups say the bills filed this session would be a good start to fixing the child welfare agency.

There has been more urgency to fix CPS and foster care this session than ever before, groups say.

The state’s child welfare agency is asking for 13.5 percent more in funding from the state.

Child protection advocates rallied at the Capitol on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to pass legislation to fix the state’s troubled child welfare agency.

Several dozen bills have been filed so far this legislative session to address the issues that plague Child Protective Services and the foster care system housed within the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Some fixes would include reducing caseworkers’ turnover rate, increasing visitations of children who are reported abused, and offering better protection.

Advocacy groups like the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, which coordinated Tuesday’s event, said that this is the first time they have seen this much attention given to CPS and foster care. They are hopeful that laws passed this year will be a good starting point to launch major reforms in the future.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Several issues and events — including child abuse deaths, a federal ruling that deemed part of the state’s foster care system unconstitutional, and caseworkers leaving in droves — have created a sense of urgency in the legislature to fix the child welfare system, said Madeline McClure, head of the child protection association.

“It’s a perfect storm,” she said.

Late last year, Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, filed a sweeping bill that would require, among other things, all children to receive medical examination within three days of entering care and the creation of a foster care oversight and quality assurance unit to monitor the performance of all providers who serve foster children and families.

On Monday, State Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, filed a sweeping bill — the Child Protection Act — in the House that she said would strengthen early intervention, implement strategies to retain workforce, and strengthen the kinship program that places foster children with their family members.

“The end goal is to make the most vulnerable in our population safer. The first and foremost way to accomplish that is with prevention and early intervention techniques,” Burkett said during Tuesday’s event.

McClure said that the biggest hurdle will be making sure the legislature injects enough state funding to implement the changes. With the tight budget cycle, it’s unclear how much will go toward child welfare.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

Late last year, lawmakers gave Family and Protective Services $150 million in emergency funding to hire 829 employees — including 550 caseworkers and investigators — as well as to fund a $12,000 raise to staffers to keep them from quitting.

Hank Whitman, commissioner of the child welfare agency, said Tuesday that they are asking for more money for 2018 and 2019 — the Senate’s budget proposal increases the agency’s general revenue by 13.5 percent over 2016-2017 — to build on the progress that they’re already making.

“The budget is tight and they’re many competing priorities — we realize that. But we all know that an investment in our children is an investment in our future,” Whitman said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Trump tax plan: What is the AMT, tax repatriation, the death tax?
Trump tax plan: What is the AMT, tax repatriation, the death tax?

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a proposal to drastically cut taxes for corporations and simplify the tax filing system for individuals. Companies would see a business tax rate of 15 percent, down from 35 percent, and individuals would benefit from a doubling of the standard deduction and a simplified form to fill out on tax day each...
Austin district leaders launch three new early college high schools
Austin district leaders launch three new early college high schools

The Austin school district this fall will launch three new early college high schools, giving thousands of students an opportunity to earn an associate degree while earning their high school diploma. Crockett, Eastside Memorial and Lanier will offer the program, allowing students to earn up to 60 hours of college credit. The district partners with...
Even before Trump threat, mothers and children separated at the border
Even before Trump threat, mothers and children separated at the border

Ana Mendoza, a 29-year-old Honduran immigrant, can’t erase the image from her mind: With her 10-year-old son and 12-year-old cousin in tow, she had arrived at the International Bridge in Hidalgo on Jan. 19, the day before President Donald Trump was to be inaugurated. Mendoza, fleeing gang violence in her homeland, believed the family would be...
Travis Co. DA seeks federal review of Kleinert police shooting case
Travis Co. DA seeks federal review of Kleinert police shooting case

The Travis County district attorney’s office announced Wednesday that, despite a recent setback, it will continue to pursue criminal charges against a former Austin police detective who shot an unarmed man to death in 2013. On April 20, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Criminal Appeals Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court’s dismissal...
Central Texas’ loneliest falcon might live on top of the UT Tower
Central Texas’ loneliest falcon might live on top of the UT Tower

Central Texas’ loneliest falcon might live in a wooden box on top of the UT Tower. And now we’ve taken her eggs. According to KUT, “the only peregrine falcon that lives year-round in Central Texas” lives atop the UT Tower, where she has twice laid a nest full of eggs, only to have them remain unfertilized. As the falcon...
More Stories