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

Community news: Exhibition benefits Carver Museum

TRAVIS COUNTY EAST AUSTIN Fundraiser benefits Carver Museum The George Washington Carver Ambassadors Inc. and Jerry’s Artarama are sponsoring the 11th annual 100% Community Exhibition and Silent Auction fundraiser to help benefit the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center. Artist packs will be available for pickup during...
AFFIDAVIT: Man arrested in shooting that seriously injured one Sunday
AFFIDAVIT: Man arrested in shooting that seriously injured one Sunday

Austin police arrested a man who shot and injured another man on Sunday night at a North Austin apartment complex, court records show. Raymond Tremond Allen, 24, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly shooting another man during a fight at the Silver Springs Apartments on Interstate 35 on Sunday. According to an arrest...
Protest, confrontation, death threat herald end of legislative session
Protest, confrontation, death threat herald end of legislative session

The last day of the Legislature on Monday was marred by a confrontation between lawmakers on the Texas House floor that involved death threats, shoving and a call to immigration authorities. The incident occurred as protesters were being removed from the House gallery after briefly shutting down proceedings by chanting their opposition to the new law...
Texas Digest: Fleeing man caused $1 million in damage, officials say

WEST TEXAS Chase leads to nearly $1 million in damage A man fleeing from sheriff’s deputies caused nearly $1 million in damage at a chemical plant when he crashed a pickup through several gates and ran inside, according to authorities in Hutchinson County. Sheriff Kirk Coker told the Amarillo Globe-News that 22-year-old Angel Vasquez slammed...
‘Suspicious activity’ detected on Seton hospital computer network
‘Suspicious activity’ detected on Seton hospital computer network

Ascension Health said Monday it had detected suspicious activity on its network of computers, which includes the Seton family hospitals. Representatives for the hospital did not provide details on Monday about the possible security breach or when it occurred but said that they had not identified any issues with patient safety. Here is the statement...
More Stories