Texas CPS kills plan to give hefty raises to top managers

State leaders have killed a plan to give $268,000 in raises to 10 top managers at Child Protective Services, saying none of them will get a pay boost until the flailing agency improves.

And that, legislators say, is a very good idea.

“The top people getting raises, that’s not the way to go,” said state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. “They always get raises.”

On Thursday, the American-Statesman reported that the agency was considering big salary increases for its 10 regional directors, who manage CPS employees and oversee operations around the state. All of the directors would earn at least $100,000.

The raises for directors were being contemplated even as the agency struggles to keep rank-and-file workers with low salaries. In the Austin region, for example, just 54 child welfare investigators are working in 110 investigator job slots.

But the agency quickly reversed course after the Statesman story. Officials with the Department of Family and Protective Services — which oversees CPS — say that Executive Commissioner Hank Whitman hadn’t seen the plan before the newspaper asked about it. As soon as he did, he killed the proposal.

“No salary increases for regional directors will even be considered until clear improvement is seen at CPS,” department spokesman Patrick Crimmins said.

According to a confidential document obtained by the newspaper, state officials were recommending that each regional director make a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $142,000. The memo justified the potential pay raise by saying the directors’ current salaries don’t reflect the complicated work of managing employees responsible for child welfare programs across the state.

In the case of the Travis County regional director, Shelia Brown, that could have meant a 29 percent pay raise that would have increased her salary to $110,000 per year.

The regional directors weren’t the only ones up for a hefty pay raise. CPS also suggested paying a deputy director who works with those managers $112,500 per year, about $34,000 more than the previous deputy director made.

Starting pay for entry-level caseworkers is about $33,000. CPS is regularly criticized for not paying enough to its front-line workers.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said there needs to be a more systematic way of doling out pay increases rather than simply giving them to a group of people as a whole. The large increases also could have given more ammunition to people who believe CPS doesn’t need any more money, he said.

“It sends the wrong message,” Watson said.

In 2015, 171 children in Texas died of abuse and neglect, up from 151 in 2014. The number of child abuse cases has increased. The CPS’ Dallas region has struggled with severe turnover and a large backlog of cases that caused investigators to miss deadlines for visiting children or to not see them at all.

The number of CPS “delinquent cases,” those open for more than 60 days, has increased both locally and statewide. In the Travis County region, delinquent cases have skyrocketed 76 percent because of the shortage of investigators.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Man dead, child critically injured in East Austin crash, EMS says
Man dead, child critically injured in East Austin crash, EMS says

A man in his 20s died in an accident on FM 969 Saturday morning that also left a child with life-threatening injuries, Capt. Darren Noak of the Austin-Travis County EMS said. The child with the critical injuries and another child were taken by an ambulance to Dell Children’sMedical center, while two adults in their 50s were taken to Dell Medical...
Highs in the upper 90s expected for Memorial Day weekend in Austin
Highs in the upper 90s expected for Memorial Day weekend in Austin

It will be a sunny and hot Memorial Day weekend in Austin, starting off Saturday with a high temperature of 99 degrees and a heat index of 104, according to the National Weather Service. Highs will stay in the upper 90s through the holiday on Monday, so stay safe and keep hydrated if you are spending time outdoors. At night, the temperature will fall...
Community news: CodeNext hearings scheduled for Tuesday, Saturday

TRAVIS COUNTY DOWNTOWN AUSTIN CodeNext hearings scheduled The city of Austin is considering a comprehensive revision to the Land Development Code, called CodeNext, and the City Council will host public hearings at 10 a.m. Tuesday and Saturday at City Hall, 301 W. Second St. The code affects what, where and how much can be built in Austin. It covers...
Where to honor those who gave their all
Where to honor those who gave their all

No matter where you are in Central Texas, there will be a place nearby to remember those who died while serving the country’s armed forces. The following are among the places to go this Memorial Day weekend: TRAVIS COUNTY West Austin: World War II close assault re-enactments at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday at Camp Mabry, 2200 W. 35th St. East Austin...
PolitiFact: Death penalty is now only for those 18 and older
PolitiFact: Death penalty is now only for those 18 and older

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling keeps the 17-year-old who has admitted being the shooter at Santa Fe High School from facing the death penalty because he’s not 18. Still, a meme brought to our attention by readers suggests Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who is white, is getting some type of special treatment. It contrasts his case with that of an African-American...
More Stories