Child Protective Services

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In July of this year, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state of Texas to continue drafting plans to fix its broken foster care system. In a previous ruling by the U.S. District Court, Judge Janis Jack said that the state violated the Constitution by keeping children in an underfunded and poorly run system, “where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability are the norm.” This is one of the most significant problems facing our state, and it is an issue that must be addressed this coming session. If I am elected as the next state representative for District 126, one of my top priorities will be to protect the children who are in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS).

Confirmed Child Fatalities and Abuse Cases in Texasconfirmedcf

Source: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Children 17 and Under)

2015 Confirmed CPS Victims and Investigations in Harris County

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Source: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Children 17 and Under)

The court’s recent decision has already prompted state legislators on the House Human Services Committee to meet and discuss a plan of action to overhaul the CPS system. At the request of Governor Abbott, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner Hank Whitman submitted a letter to the committee that includes 10 proposals to improve the Texas child welfare system. The proposals seek to address challenges CPS has faced in recent years and offers solutions to strengthen capacity, efficiency and accountability at the agency. Some of the proposals Commissioner Whitman offered include:

  • Instituting a new culture of accountability throughout CPS
  • Requiring CPS regional directors to re-apply for their jobs
  • Ramping up efforts to bring Texas’ faith-based community into the child welfare tent
  • Strengthening the state’s investment in performance-based outcomes for foster care
  • Providing young parents with the tools and resources to build safe, healthy households

Over the next two weeks, I will plan to focus on two key issues surrounding foster care in Texas, prevention services and caseworker turnover rates. Both of these issues will have a huge impact on the future of the foster care system and finding a solution to these systemic problems will help to create the foundation for an improved and responsive system.