CHILD PROTECTION


The center is deeply committed to safeguarding Texas' six million children from abuse or neglect.

Recent Child Protection Publications

Are Subsidized Guardianships Making a Positive Difference for Kids? Early Evidence from the Field (08/30/2012)

Under a federal law known as the Fostering Connections Act, Texas recently began providing financial assistance to relatives when they became legal guardians of children who have been abused or neglected, cannot return home, or be adopted. This paper will explore whether these payments have increased overall permanent placements with relatives or have only led relatives to shift from adoption to legal guardianship, thereby increasing permanency through legal guardianships, but potentially decreasing adoptions. Early evidence suggests that while there have been increases in both overall permanency and relative guardianship, the proportion of children being adopted by a relative has declined.

Testimony: Improving Texas' Child Protective Services System (03/22/2012)

On Wednesday, March 21, Senior Policy Analyst Jane Burstain, Ph.D., gave invited testimony at the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing on interim charges affecting Child Protective Services (CPS). Her testimony provided recommendations for reducing caseworker turnover, anticipating increased incidents of child abuse and neglect in 2012, and battling the affects of budget cuts for almost every type of CPS service.

Child Protective Services in Texas: Buying What We Want (02/2/2012)

We want our child protective services (CPS) system to keep children safe at home whenever possibleâ€"it’s better for the child and cheaper for the state and federal government. The reality, however, is that Texas (and every other state) spends most of its CPS budget on foster care and adoption. This report discusses why this disconnect exists and recommends ways to better align what we want with what we buy

Statement: Recent Federal Report on Child Maltreatment Probably Reflects Budget Cuts, Not Less Child Abuse (12/14/2011)

Senior Policy Analyst Jane Burstain, Ph.D., on the recently released federal Child Maltreatment report. The report showed a decline in the rate of kids being identified as abuse and neglect victims in 2010 as compared to rates in 2008. Some are claiming this means that there are fewer kids being abused and neglected.

“A more likely explanation for falling rates of identified maltreatment is that budget cuts are forcing state agencies to selectively spend their limited resources on fewer cases. And, in fact, the Child Maltreatment report shows state child welfare agencies are investigating fewer abuse and neglect reports and, when they do investigate, are less likely to identify kids as a victim. So it probably isn’t that there’s less child abuse and neglect; it is more likely that with budget cuts, state agencies can do less to identify and address it."

Child Protective Services 2011 Legislative Sesssion and Interim (11/3/2011)

The 2011 Legislature lost the momentum of reform efforts from previous legislative sessions due primarily to a brutal budget session. And an anticipated deficit in the 2013 Legislature will affect work in the interim. CPPP has produced a series of policy pages that look back at the 2011 session while looking forward to 2013.

Statement on Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (09/20/2011)

Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) Senior Policy Analyst Jane Burstain released the following statement today regarding the Federal Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act:

CPPP applauds and supports the bipartisan Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act introduced on Monday by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, Geoff Davis and Lloyd Doggett. The bill provides needed support to help states better address child abuse and neglect and CPPP urges the U.S. House to pass the bill as quickly as possible.

Statement on Howard Baldwin as Interim DFPS Commissioner (09/6/2011)

Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs asked Howard Baldwin to serve as interim commissioner for the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), succeeding retiring Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein. Executive Director F. Scott McCown made the following comments.

The 2012-13 Budget for Child Protective Services: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (06/9/2011)

In a brutal budget session, child protective services (CPS) fared better than most state services for 2012-13. The proposed rate cuts for foster care and adoption payments were not implemented and some caseload growth for these programs was funded. At this funding level, CPS hopes to move forward with its proposal to redesign foster care to help children move to permanency faster. With the budget, CPS can actually start hiring new staff to work with children and families at the start of state fiscal year 2012. Finally, funding for families services was maintained at 2010-11 levels.

But the overall budget for CPS is 10 percent less than what CPS estimated it needed for the biennium to help families affected by child abuse and neglect. Caseload growth for family services was not funded and statewide intake staff, adoption services, and child abuse and neglect prevention programs were cut. The specifics are discussed below.

Foster Care: Fast Tracking Relatives Who Care for Kids (05/27/2011)

In 2008, the federal government enacted the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act which was the first major revision to child welfare laws in a decade. One of the goals of the federal law is to encourage the use of relative caregivers, who are often the best resource for children who cannot return home, and through whom children are able to maintain ties to their family, community, culture, and religion.

But Texas’ demanding licensing process can make it difficult for relatives to become foster parents. This special report explores how to adapt Texas’ licensing process to accommodate relatives who care for kids, while holding child safety as a top priority.

Title IV-E Waivers Are Key to Keeping Kids at Home (03/31/2011)

There is a conflict between the outcomes the federal government says it wants and the outcomes it actually spends its money supporting. Ultimately, that conflict needs to be addressed through further federal child welfare financing reform. But until that happens, the federal government should create a new Title IV-E waiver program so states can pilot ways to use dedicated child welfare federal funds to achieve the outcomes the federal government wants.

Jane Burstain provided testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on the importance of the Title IV-E waiver program as a tool for states to more efficiently and effectively use child welfare funds.

SB 1 Threatens DFPS Progress in Keeping Children Safe (02/7/2011)

Preserving families and protecting children from abuse and neglect is the very essence of an essential state function and the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has been getting the job done. Despite a growing volume of cases, DFPS has improved investigations, kept more children safe in their homes or with relatives, and increased the number of adoptions for children who could not return home. The cuts to the DFPS budget in SB 1, however, threaten all this progress and will force DFPS back to the days when removals were high, caseloads were unmanageable and children were sleeping in DFPS offices.

Upside Down Child Protection (02/7/2011)

In the budget bills for CPS, funding for family-based protective services falls short by 30 percent, or about $51 million. But shorting family-based protective services will not save the state money. It will simply force CPS to send maltreated children who could have stayed safe in their own homes or with relatives into the more expensive alternative of foster care.

House Bill 1 Cuts Funding Needed to Keep Children Safe (01/20/2011)

Even in cases of abuse and neglect, the primary job of Child Protective Services (CPS), is to preserve families. With the resources the Legislature has provided to CPS in recent years, removals have dramatically declined so that now, in about eight of every 10 new cases opened for services, CPS avoids a removal and keeps the family intact.

The proposed state budget bill filed on Tuesday [House Bill (HB) 1] endangers all the progress CPS has made and threatens to push CPS back to the days when removals were high, children were sleeping in CPS offices and caseworkers were overwhelmed.

The Guide to Texas Child Protective Services (01/4/2011)

The goal of a child welfare system is to ensure that children are protected from abuse and neglect, preferably by helping families safely care for children in their own homes. When that’s not possible, the system looks for other alternatives, so that all children grow up in a loving, permanent home. Many different individuals and groups help make this happen in Texas.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is the state agency charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect. DFPS fulfills this mandate through its Child Protective Services (CPS) Division. Courts also play a critical role. If the abuse or neglect is serious enough to warrant removing children from their home, courts become the ultimate arbiter of what happens to them. The federal government and Texas Governor and Legislature are involved as well, creating laws that govern how CPS operates and establishing policy priorities for the system through what is funded in the CPS budget. Finally, advocates, organizations that work with children and families and the families themselves play a crucial role in ensuring that the system works in supporting families and communities to keep children safe and protected.

In recent years, there have been significant efforts to improve the CPS system in Texas. CPPP has participated in many of these efforts and this guide is a continuation of our work. Chapter 1 discusses how Texas fits into a national context and recent state reform efforts. Chapter 2 describes how the system is structured based on a review of federal and state law, the Texas administrative code and CPS internal policy. It also uses data to describe how children and families are actually moving through the system.

This guide is primarily designed as a resource for researchers, advocates, policymakers, and those who work in and with the CPS system. This overview should make it easier to identify problem areas and policy gaps so the system can better support families and their communities in providing safe and permanent homes for all the children of Texas.

News Release — Early Christmas: New Law Increases Investment in Child Nutrition Programs (12/21/2010)

(AUSTIN, Texas)â€"Low-income children in Texas received an early Christmas present last week. On December 13, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law, which increases investment in the Child Nutrition Programs: School Breakfast and Lunch, Women Infants and Children (WIC), which provides food benefits and nutrition counseling to new mothers and children with a nutritional risk, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which reimburses day care providers and afterschool programs for the meals and snacks they serve to low-income children and seniors in their care.

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention: How to Do It Better (09/21/2010)

The best way to reduce the number of children in foster care is to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place. But this is easier said than done, especially in Texas where funding prevention has not been a priority. Even in this difficult economic environment, however, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) can maximize the effect of the limited resources it has.

Undocumented and Abused: A Texas Case Study of Children in the Child Protective Services System (09/13/2010)

How to best regulate immigration and treat immigrantsâ€"both those lawfully and unlawfully hereâ€"are hotly debated questions. To promote responsible action, the center recently proposed a common-sense set of principles to secure our borders and reform our immigration system.1 Now we turn our attention to a much smaller issue, perhaps one on which consensus may be more readily reached: How should the United States deal with undocumented children who are here through no fault of their own and have suffered abuse or neglect? Using Texas as a case study, this paper looks at who these children are and discusses why a blanket policy to send them home will not work. It also discusses how to improve the process through which these children can obtain legal residency. Finally, this paper explains how federal immigration and child welfare law should be aligned to ensure our country acts responsibly and that the federal government provides the necessary financial support to the states to care for this vulnerable population.

Potential Policy Gaps in Parental Child Safety Placements (05/13/2010)

When a child cannot remain safely at home, one option to prevent removal into foster care is for the parents to identify another home in which they agree the child can stay, which is referred to as a parental child safety placement. This type of placement can occur during the investigation stage, during the time the family is receiving family based safety services (FBSS), or both. Although the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has some policies regarding such placements, there are several areas that need greater detail to ensure that these placements are appropriate, that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities, and that the placements last no longer than necessary.

Implementing the Permanent Care Assistance Program (03/11/2010)

The new permanency care assistance program, which pays relatives who take permanent custody of a child in state care, is well intended. But due to federal and practical constraints, implementation may not go as planned. That is why the 2017 sunset provision is important. It allows sufficient time for the program to get up and running but provides an important “out” if the program does not achieve its intended goals.

CPPP senior policy analyst Jane Burstain delivered this testimony on the permanency care assistance program to the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

New Analysis Anticipates Child Poverty Increase (01/7/2010)

More than one of every five Texas children, or nearly 1.5 million kids, lived in poverty during 2008â€"and when data from 2009 are compiled, that number is likely to increase to one of every four kids, according to a new analysis released Wednesday by First Focus and Brookings researcher Julia Isaacs. The increase in poor children is placing an even heavier burden on an already strained network of private charities and state agencies already reeling from the triple punch of inadequate funding, staffing shortages, and a broken eligibility system that withholds critical assistance to needy families.

Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in Texas (12/16/2009)

Recently, a spotlight has been focused on deaths from child abuse and neglect in Texas. Texas does have a higher death rate per capita compared to other states. The exact reasons for the higher rate are difficult to determine but seem to be related to two factors. First, other states may be undercounting their child abuse and neglect deaths. Second, Texas probably has a larger number of child abuse and neglect deaths per capita related to the difficult circumstances families face in Texas, specifically high child poverty, a high teen birth rate, and low child abuse and neglect prevention.

Fostering Connections Creates a Conflict in Federal Law Regarding the Preferred Permanency Model (09/29/2009)

CPPP Senior Policy Analyst Jane Burstain recently offered testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means regarding the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act.

Child Protective Services and the 81st Legislature (07/16/2009)

The investments the 79th and 80th Legislatures made in the child protective services (CPS) system are paying off. More children are safely staying in their homes or with relatives and, when that is not possible, more are being adopted. As a result, fewer children are in foster care. The 81st Legislature built on these successes, making additional investments in CPS and passing legislation to further reduce the number of children entering the state’s care and improve outcomes for those children who do. This policy page discusses the details of that legislation and what needs to be done next.

The Gates Case: What It Means for Child Protective Services (06/26/2009)

In July 2008, the United States Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit published a decision in the case of Gates v. the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The Fifth Circuit set guidelines under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution for state caseworkers to follow in making investigation and removal decisions in child protection cases. This policy page discusses what Gates means for caseworkers in the field, explores its impact on Child Protective Services (CPS), and makes recommendations about what the state and CPS need to do next.

The Texas School Disciplinary System and Foster Care Children (04/24/2009)

Research shows that abused and neglected children are much more likely than their peers to misinterpret neutral situations as threatening, have poor impulse control, and engage in aggressive behavior with adults and other children. These behaviors present public schools with difficult challenges. Continuing our effort to explore school outcomes for students in foster care, in this paper we compare students in foster care to the general student population and explore differences in how they fare in the school discipline system.

House Better Funds Child Protective Services (04/21/2009)

The House budget funds 85 percent of what Child Protective Services (CPS) needs to keep children safe in their families or with relatives, or, when that is not possible, to successfully transition out of care. In contrast, the Senate budget funds only 15 percent. In conference, the Senate needs to move towards the House budget or it will risk more failed family and relative placements, forcing more children into the more expensive alternative of foster care and risking poorer outcomes for Texas’ most vulnerable children.

House Bill 2860, An Act Relating to the Fostering Connections to Success Act: Testimony to the House Human Services Committee (04/9/2009)

"We appreciate Representative Dukes for authoring this important legislation to provide better financial support to older children in the long-term care of the state and relative caregivers. Last year, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Fostering Connections to Success Act. The act provides new federal matching funds to support extended assistance payments to older children who are adopted, extended foster care payments for older children in the long-term care of the state who are pursuing an education or a job and payments to support relatives who take permanent custody under certain circumstances. (Under the federal law, permanent custody is referred to as guardianship and under Texas law as conservatorship.) House Bill 2860 creates programs that will take advantage of these new federal funds while the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has requested the state general revenue required to fund the state share of the costs."

Senate Bill 1411, An Act Relating to the Fostering Connections to Success Act: Testimony to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee (04/7/2009)

"We appreciate Senator West for authoring this important legislation to provide better financial support to older children in the long-term care of the state and relative caregivers. Last year, Congress passed and President Bush signed the Fostering Connections to Success Act. The act provides new federal matching funds to support extended assistance payments to older children who are adopted, extended foster care payments for older children in the long-term care of the state who are pursuing an education or a job and payments to support relatives who take permanent custody under certain circumstances. (Under the federal law, permanent custody is referred to as guardianship and under Texas law as conservatorship.) Senate Bill 1411 creates programs that will take advantage of these new federal funds while the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has requested the state general revenue required to fund the state share of the costs.

HB 2040, Establishing Kinship Guardian Assistance: Testimony to House Human Services Committee (03/26/2009)

CPPP testified on HB 2040, which would provide subsidized kinship care for abused and neglected children. While we support kinship care, we recommended that the Legislature study the issue over the upcoming interim.

Child Protective Services Issues for the 81st Legislative Session: Invited Testimony to the House Human Services Committee (03/10/2009)

The 79th and 80th Legislatures made significant financial investments in Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS used those resources to improve investigations, to keep more children safe in their homes or with relatives, and to increase the number of adoptions for children who could not return to their parents’ care. But challenges remain. To meet these challenges and maintain the momentum of success, the 81st Legislature must continue to invest in CPS.

The 2010-2011 Budget and Child Protective Services: Testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services (02/24/2009)

The 79th and 80th legislatures made significant financial investments in Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS has used those resources to improve investigations, keep more children safe in their homes or with relatives, and to increase the number of adoptions for children who could not return to their parents’ care. It is important that the 81st legislature maintain this momentum of success and continue to invest in CPS so that recent gains are not lost and future challenges can be met.

Federal Funds for Texas CPS (02/23/2009)

Texas relies heavily on federal funds to pay for child protection. This Policy Page describes the major sources of federal funds and their uses. It also discusses policy recommendations of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care and the Kids are Waiting: Fix Foster Care Now campaign.

The 2010-2011 Budget and Child Protective Services: Testimony to the Texas Senate Finance Committee (02/12/2009)

The 79th and 80th legislatures made significant financial investments in Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS has used those resources to improve investigations, keep more children safe in their homes or with relatives, and to increase the number of adoptions for children who could not return to their parents’ care. It is important that the 81st legislature maintain this momentum of success and continue to invest in CPS so that recent gains are not lost and future challenges can be met.

A Better Understanding of Caseworker Turnover within Child Protective Services (02/4/2009)

As every parent knows, children need stability and consistency. For children involved in the child welfare system, who often come from and continue to live in chaotic circumstances, a caseworker may be their only continuous and stable relationship. High caseworker turnover, however, disrupts continuity and stability. To address this problem, this policy paper analyzes turnover data on Texas’ child protective services (CPS) caseworkers and makes recommendations about how turnover can be reduced.

State’s New Managed Health Care Model for Foster Children (11/17/2008)

Senate Bill 6 in 2005 directed HHSC to create a new health care delivery model to provide foster children with comprehensive services, a “medical home,” and coordinated access to care. HHSC worked with the DFPS to develop STAR Health, a new Medicaid managed-care model for foster children, which was implemented on April 1, 2008. This report explores the initial implementation of the program and STAR Health’s potential to improve health outcomes for foster children.

New Federal Foster Care Legislation: What It Means for Texas (11/3/2008)

On October 7, 2008, the President signed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893). The act overhauls the federal child welfare structure for the first time since the Adoptions and Safe Families Act in 1997. The law contains new requirements, changes federal financing for adoptions, and provides additional financial assistance for various optional programs. For Texas, none of the changes require new legislation, though the state must appropriate additional funding to fully benefit from the provisions of the new act. This policy paper discusses provisions of the federal legislation and the potential for helping Texas children.

CPPP Applauds Presidential Signing of Legislation to Shore Up Foster Care and Adoptions in The U.S. (10/8/2008)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) today applauded presidential signing of the Fostering Connection to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. The Act contains substantial improvements to the U.S. foster care system. Without this legislation, our nation’s current federal adoptions incentives program would have expired this month.

CPPP Hails U.S. Senate Passage of Adoption Incentives Bill, Urges Quick Presidential Action (09/23/2008)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities today announced that the U.S. Senate passed the Fostering Connection to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which contains sweeping and comprehensive improvements to the U.S. foster care system. Without this legislation, our nation’s current federal adoptions incentives program would expire on September 30.

Drawing the Line between Public and Private Responsibility in Child Welfare: The Texas Debate (09/4/2008)

Protecting children and strengthening families is difficult, complicated work. Doing it well requires successfully engaging the entire communityâ€"both the public and private sectors. In this report, we explore the issues raised by how a state draws the line between public and private responsibility, and we make specific policy recommendations. The report compares Texas to the two states that have most completely privatized, Kansas and Florida.

Testimony on H.R. 5466 – Invest in Kids Act (03/6/2008)

Policy Analyst Tiffany Roper submitted testimony in support of the Invest in Kids Act, which reforms many outdated federal policies and gives states the ability to significantly improve their child welfare systems -- keeping children out of care and decreasing the amount of time that children who must be in care spend in care.

Report Card on the Education of Foster Children (02/11/2008)

The public educates children because of our common interest in ensuring that children become responsible and productive adults and to provide an opportunity to every child to achieve their potential. Unfortunately, several national studies show that we aren’t doing a good job educating foster children. Foster children have lower test scores, lower graduation rates, and less post-secondary education. This policy page examines the problem and makes recommendations.

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention in Texas and Nationally (01/29/2008)

The old proverb that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is especially relevant in terms of prevention of child abuse and neglect. Child abuse and neglect are preventable, yet in 2006, nearly 68,000 Texas children were confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect. Nationwide that number jumps to one million. While the federal government spent over 7 billion dollars on child welfare in 2007, most of the federal funding available for state use is restricted to spending on children who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Little money is left to provide the prevention services that can prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring and children from coming into foster care in the first place.

New Report: Lack of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Costs the U.S. Over $100 Billion a Year (01/29/2008)

According to a new economic impact analysis by Prevent Child Abuse America, child abuse and neglect cost the United States nearly $104 billion a year. Child abuse and neglect are preventable, yet in 2006, nearly 68,000 Texas childrenâ€"one million kids nationwide--were confirmed victims of child maltreatment. A just-released study by Kids Are Waiting, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, finds that the unavailability of federal child welfare funding for prevention programs and services is in part to blame. On average, only 10 percent of federal money dedicated for child welfare can currently be used to prevent child abuse and neglect. According to the report, 8% of federal dollars allocated to Texas for child welfare were used for prevention in 2006. Both reports are available at http://www.kidsarewaiting.org.

Creating Foster Care Capacity for Abused and Neglected Children (01/14/2008)

When the state takes an abused or neglected child from their parent, a court names the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) the legal custodian of the childâ€"essentially making the state the parent of the child. The state must then do for the child what any parent mustâ€"provide food, clothing, and shelter. Since January 2007, however, the state has had to keep over 500 abused and neglected children for at least one night, some for more, in a state office or a hotel room. Every region in the state has had to use offices or hotels, though some more than others. This is only one manifestation of a growing problemâ€"the state does not have enough foster homes. This policy page examines this problem and makes recommendations for capacity building.

Federal Funds for Texas CPS (10/8/2007)

Texas relies heavily on federal funds to pay for child protection and foster care. Unfortunately, federal funds are often too limited or too inflexible to meet our state’s child welfare needs. CPPP’s latest policy brief describes the major sources of federal funds and their uses. It also discusses recent policy recommendations to reform federal funding of child protection made by the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care and other experts.

Testimony on Judicial Commission on Children, Youth, and Families (09/26/2007)

Yesterday the Texas Supreme Court held an historic public hearing on whether to establish a permanent judicial commission on children, youth, and families to strengthen court performance in child protection cases and foster collaboration to improve the child protection system. CPPP testified in favor of the commission. The archived tape of the public hearing is available at http://stmarytxlaw.mediasite.com/stmarytx/Catalog/

Report: More Than 1 in 4 Latino Foster Children Lives With a Grandparent or Relative (09/20/2007)

A new national report finds that 26% of Latino children in foster care are living with relatives. Nationwide, 23% of all foster children live with relatives. In Texas, in open CPS cases, the percentage of children living with relatives is about 26%, though most are not in paid foster care. The large number of children living with relatives underscores the need to make it easier for more relative families to care for their kin. In Congress, legislation is on the table that would allow states to use federal foster care funds to subsidize guardianships and link relative caregivers to a range of services to help the children in their care. The bipartisan Kinship Caregiver Support Act (KCSA) would extend to relatives the same benefits received by those who foster children or adopt children from the system.

Celebrate Grandparents’ Day by Urging Congress to Support Relative Caregivers (09/7/2007)

Every child needs a safe, permanent family to help them grow and flourish. Grandparents and other relatives can be an important resource to provide permanent homes for thousands of children in foster careâ€" but they need the same supports any other foster family gets. Common-sense reforms in Congress could help make this happenâ€" if you add your voice to call for change. In honor of Grandparents' Day (September 9) call your senators and representative and ask for their support of the bipartisan Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S.661/HR 2188). This federal legislation would help the more than 124,000 childrenâ€" 1 out of every 4 in foster careâ€" who live with grandparents or other relatives. The bill would enable those relatives to become permanent guardians while maintaining crucial financial and social services support for things like medical visits, food, school clothes, and educational tutoring.

Overview of Major Actions on CHIP, Medicaid and Child Protective Services (08/1/2007)

CPPP Associate Director Anne Dunkelberg and Policy Analyst Tiffany Roper presented an overview of major actions on the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, and Child Protective Services to the San Antonio Nonprofit Council.

Analyses to Help You Prepare for the Conference Committee Budget Debate (05/1/2007)

CPPP has revised its overview of the differences between House and Senate state budget proposals for 2008 and 2009. More detailed side-by-side comparisons for Education, Protective Services, Medicaid/CHIP, Public Health, Assistive & Rehabilitative Services, and Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) are also available. Texas can afford to meet all its needs. Texas has at least $3 billion more in General Revenue that the legislature could appropriate. In addition, the legislature could redirect $1.4 billion in the House and Senate proposals that would only undo past payment deferrals. Undoing these payment deferrals has no purpose except to shelter money to pay for tax cuts after 2009. If the legislature appropriated this entire $4.4 billion to meet today's needs, Texas would still have another $4.3 billion in its Rainy Day Fund to meet an emergency of any sort.

Children Released by TYC Will Hit CPS Hard (04/11/2007)

TYC recently notified Child Protective Services that CPS must find homes for many of the children TYC is releasing. Almost 100 of the children at TYC are in the state’s conservatorship (meaning that before the child was committed to TYC, a court removed the child from the parent’s custody and gave responsibility to CPS), though we do not have a figure for how many of these are scheduled to be released. TYC is also asking CPS to take children for whom TYC cannot locate parents or whom the parents refuse to pick up. TYC releases will hit CPS hard because these TYC children are hard to placeâ€"a child coming out of TYC can’t go into just any foster homeâ€"and CPS already has a foster care capacity crisis. In February, 42 children spent a combined total of 52 nights sleeping in a state office building. CPS is now putting children up in hotels.

Privatization of State Foster Care and Adoption Services: An Idea Whose Time Has Come or a Disaster in the Making? (04/3/2007)

Child Protective Services (CPS) in the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) employs specialists who recruit, train, and monitor foster and adoptive parents and complete adoptions. CPS also contracts with private providers for these services. Some argue that the state should maintain this public-private system. Others argue that the state should use only private providers. This Policy Page explores the pros and cons of each approach.

Privatizing Welfare Services Would Put Profit Above Children: Austin American-Statesman (03/19/2007)

Earlier this week, Texas announced the termination of its contract with Accenture, the private company the state hired to enroll Texans in health care, food stamps, and TANF cash assistance. Although privatization was supposed to save the state money and improve services to families, thousands of the most vulnerable Texans were wrongly denied benefits and the state didn’t save a dime. Despite the failure of this privatization experiment, legislation is still in the works to privatize another essential state service -- Child Protective Services (CPS), the child welfare arm of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). CPS investigates reports of child abuse and neglect and works to protect these children.

Strengthening Child Protective Services: Comparing SB 758, HB 2140, and HB 3916 with HB 1361 (03/14/2007)

In 2005, the 79th Texas Legislature considered whether to privatize any or all of the child protective responsibilities of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). At that time, a push to privatize resulted in a mandate to completely privatize case management and substitute care services throughout the state by 2011, with the first region to be privatized by the end of 2007. After contract difficulties, however, implementation of this mandate was put on hold. This legislative session, privatization is under reconsideration. This policy page examines privatization and whether it is the best approach to improving Texas’ child welfare system.

Strengthening Child Protective Services: An Analysis of DFPS’s LAR and Senate Bill 758 (03/5/2007)

This policy page provides CPPP's analysis of the Legislative Appropriation Request for Child Protective Services, as well as Chairman Nelson’s CPS bill for this session, SB 758.

The Federal Role in Funding Child Protection: How Eliminating the "Lookback" Could Help Texas (02/7/2007)

Nationally, in 1998, more than half of the children in foster care were eligible for federal support, but, by 2005, fewer than half wereâ€"an estimated 35,000 fewer children. Experts project that the number of children eligible for support will continue to decline by about 5,000 a year. Many factors contribute to this decline, including changes in state policies and demographics. A new analysis by KIDS ARE WAITING: Fix Foster Care Now, led by The Pew Charitable Trusts, with CPPP as a partner, shows that part of the decline is the result of the federal “lookback” policy. This policy makes a child’s eligibility for federal funds dependent on whether their family would have qualified for support in 1996 under the rules of the now-defunct Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

New National Report: 35,000 Fewer Abused & Neglected Children Eligible for Federal Support; Texas Children at Risk (02/7/2007)

Over the past decade, thousands of foster children and the states responsible for them have lost critical federal support and this problem is only projected to get worse, according to a study just released by KIDS ARE WAITING: Fix Foster Care Now.

Lawyers and Child Protection (01/22/2007)

For years, many have complained about the quality of legal representation in child protection cases. In 2005, the Texas legislature addressed these longtime criticisms through Senate Bill 6 (SB 6), which reformed many aspects of the child welfare system, including representation of children and parents. Much remains to be done, however. The good news is that unlike many challenges facing the state, it is possible to significantly strengthen legal representation in child protection cases in a short period with limited funds. This policy brief provides an overview of the issues, discusses the new provisions of Senate Bill 6, and recommends additional ways to make representation more effective for DFPS, parents, and children.

Judicial Leadership and Child Protection (01/22/2007)

Across the nation, child welfare judges are taking on a new roleâ€"participating in collaborations designed to strengthen the child welfare system, such as multi-disciplinary task forces or court improvement projects. As judicial leadership increases, however, questions have arisen regarding the limits on judicial leadership. When does exercising leadership to improve the system compromise impartiality in individual cases? This policy brief addresses the limitations on judicial leadership in Texas and discusses where judicial leadership is not only appropriate, but also necessary.

Presentations at the United Way of Metro Tarrant County's Pre-Legislative Health and Human Services Public Policy Forum (11/13/2006)

Celia Hagert and Tiffany Roper presented on outsourcing public benefits administration and privatizing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at the United Way of Metro Tarrant County's public policy forum.

Comments on HHSC's Proposal for Comprehensive Medical Care for Children in Foster Care (08/2/2006)

CPPP prepared comments in response to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's proposal for a comprehensive medical system for children in foster care.

Federal Funds for Texas CPS (05/17/2006)

Texas relies heavily on federal funds to pay for child protection and foster care. This Policy Brief describes the major sources of federal funds and their uses. It also discusses the recommendations of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care and describes recent changes in federal funding.

CPPP's Comments on HHSC's Outsourcing Proposal (05/12/2006)

CPPP prepared these comments in response to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services Commission's draft proposal relating to an independent evaluation of outsourcing case management and services in the foster care system.

CPPP's Comments on DFPS' Outsourcing Proposal (03/20/2006)

CPPP prepared these comments in response to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' draft proposal relating to outsourcing of case management and services to children and families in the foster care system.

CPPP's Comments on HHSC's Proposal to Develop a Medical System for Children in Foster Care (03/20/2006)

CPPP prepared comments in response to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's draft proposal to develop a medical system for children in foster care.

Who's Who and What to Do in the Texas Child Protection System (01/30/2006)

CPPP is excited to share with you a short brochure we've developed to build collaborations in child protection and spread awareness of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care's court improvement recommendations. CPPP is involved in this work as the Texas partner of Home At Last, a national Pew initiative to ensure that foster children are placed in safe and stable homes as quickly as possible.

A Holiday Wish for Foster Children: Gilmer Mirror (12/26/2005)

It’s difficult to separate the thought of children from the spirit of the season. So full of hope and happiness, children truly embody the magic of the holidays. But for the nearly 28,000 Texas kids who will spend the holidays in foster care, the season is not so bright.

How Texas Can Help Lawyers Help Children: Austin American-Statesman (10/14/2005)

Aimee Blanchard, a 2002 graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, went to law school to become a child welfare attorney. She even spent a year working with abused and neglected children at the Children’s Rights Clinic, a hands-on clinic at UT. As a student attorney representing the legal interests of child clients, Ms. Blanchard did a lot of things that practicing lawyers doâ€" interviewing clients, developing legal strategies for her cases, and arguing her clients’ positions in the courtroom.

National Study: Student Loan Debt Keeps Lawyers from Entering or Staying in the Child Welfare Field (09/28/2005)

Too many of the nearly 28,000 kids in Texas’ foster care system (and the over 500,000 foster children nationwide) lack stable legal representation and are voiceless in the court proceedings that profoundly affect their lives. A first-ever study of children’s attorneys reveals why: many lawyers cannot afford to enter or remain in this low-paying practice area due to overwhelming student loan debt. Over two-thirds (68%) of lawyers surveyed owe at least $50,000 in student loan debt and nearly a quarter (24%) owe $75,000 or more.

Home At Last (09/1/2005)

CPPP is the Texas partner of Home at Last: Moving Children in Foster Care to Safe, Permanent Families (HAL), an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. HAL is a national and state public education and outreach campaign about the recommendations to enhance federal financing and court oversight of child welfare cases made by the blue-ribbon Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. HAL focuses on the court recommendationsâ€"facilitating better and timelier court decisions related to children’s safety, permanence, and well-being. You can learn more about the Pew Commission’s work and recommendations at www.pewfostercare.org.

Houston KIDS COUNT Conference on Children Powerpoint Presentations (06/15/2005)

The following presentations were given at the Houston KIDS COUNT Conference on Children, a half-day conference on children's issues in the wake of the 79th Legislative Session.

Statement of F. Scott McCown Regarding Child Protective Services Legislation (05/27/2005)

To answer how child protection fared this session, one must study both the final appropriations bills and Senate Bill 6.

Privatize protective services? Let's not: Fort Worth Star-Telegram (05/15/2005)

The Texas House has just passed legislation to have private corporations take over the job of ensuring the safety of our abused children and getting them into permanent homes. The proposed legislation calls for firing about 1,700 Child Protective Services caseworkers.

Memo to Conferees on Senate Bill 6: Privatization of Case Management (04/27/2005)

In their different versions of Senate Bill 6, both the Senate and the House require the Department of Family and Protective Services to discontinue its foster and adoption units and outsource all foster care and adoption services. The Senate and the House differ, however, with regard to privatizing case management. The Senate authorizes a regional pilot to test the concept. The House mandates statewide implementation. The conference committee will have to choose between these two approaches.

Scott McCown Statement: House Version of Senate Bill 6 (04/19/2005)

The House made significant changes to Senate Bill 6. In introducing those changes, Chairman Hupp said that the Senate plan did not go far enough. In our judgment, the reverse is true. The House plan goes too far by turning over children in the legal care of the state to private companies. We hope that the Senate can prevail on the House in conference to move toward the Senate plan.

Call to Action for Child Protection (04/15/2005)

Strengthening child protection is critically important. This call to action advises you about what is happening and what you can do to make your voice heard.

CPS Reform Side by Side (04/15/2005)

CPPP's analysis of where the House and Senate bills stand as of April 15, before the full House vote. Read Call to Action for Child Protection for complete details.

CPS: Is the Legislature Going to Make Things Worse for Texas Children and Families? (04/6/2005)

In an earlier brief, we analyzed privatization of case management. This brief compares CPS performance in Texas to the three states favorably cited by HHSC that have made the greatest use of privatization. Based on this comparison, this brief argues that the Senate proposal to pilot privatization is the only prudent course.

Privatization of Child Protective Services (03/28/2005)

This policy brief analyzes privatizing case management. The brief recommends that before the state privatizes case management, it pilot the concept, perhaps seeking a federal Title IV-E waiver to use federal funds in a demonstration project.

CPPP Statement on HHSC CPS Recommendations (01/6/2005)

Today, the Governor and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission released a long-awaited report on changes that should be made to child protective services (CPS) to safeguard the state's six million children from abuse or neglect.

Child Protective Services Testimony (10/19/2004)

I am Scott McCown, the director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the home of the Texas KIDS COUNT Project. Before I came to the center, I served as a district judge for fourteen years, hearing some 2,000 cases regarding child abuse and concerning some 4,000 children.

Funding Child Protection in Texas (10/1/2004)

Texans have recently heard one tragic story after another about the failure of our child protection system. In this policy brief, we explain that Texas has a small, inadequately funded child protection system. We then describe where the state gets money for child protection. Finally, we discuss emerging funding challenges.

Child Welfare (09/30/2004)

Presentation to Houston One Voice Collaborative.

Comments on the 2006-07 Legislative Appropriations Request of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (07/20/2004)

Some Texans think that over time the state has significantly increased support for child protective services, and that CPS remains troubled due to bad management or policies. An objective analysis shows this to be untrue.

Kinship Care in Texas (05/1/2004)

When the state must remove a child from a parent for the child's protection, the child is often best served by placement with a relative, commonly called kinship care. When a judge makes a placement decision, however, the judge must determine the best interest of a particular child. This determination can be extraordinarily complex. In this policy brief, we discuss these complexities and make recommendations about how to enhance the use of kinship care.

Adoption Subsidies and Foster Families (04/13/2004)

Since the passage by Congress of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA), Texas has significantly increased the number of adoptions.

Adoption of Minority Children (03/24/2004)

In 1994, Congress enacted the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA), which prohibits states from delaying or denying adoption placements on the basis of race or ethnicity, but which allowed consideration of race and ethnicity in making placement decisions.

Testimony to Interim Committee on Minority Adoption (03/24/2004)

I am Scott McCown and I am testifying on behalf of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The center has long been concerned about child well-being, and is the home of the Texas KIDS COUNT Project.

Adoption Efforts at the Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services: Testimony on Increasing Adoptions (03/18/2004)

We applaud the Speaker for his interim charge to this committee to study "ways to increase the adoption of special-needs children through efficiency in the Adoption Assistance Program." Increasing adoptions of special-needs children is of course a subset of a larger question: How do we increase adoptions? But special-needs children do present special challenges.

Adoption Efforts at the Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services (03/18/2004)

We applaud the Speaker for his interim charge to this committee to study "ways to increase the adoption of special-needs children through efficiency in the Adoption Assistance Program." Increasing adoptions of special-needs children is of course a subset of a larger question: How do we increase adoptions? But special-needs children do present special challenges.

Foster Care in Texas and Other States Faces a Federal Financing Straitjacket, Says New Report (03/11/2004)

As the effect of state budget cuts to various social services continues to surface in Texas communities, a report released today spotlights states' troubled foster care systems and how these systems could be improved if states had the flexibility to provide more foster children and their families with critically needed services such as mental health and substance abuse programs.

Comments to the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care Relating to Federal Financing (08/6/2003)

Our comments are divided into three parts: 1) an explanation of how child protection in Texas is different from other states; 2) an explanation of why block grants are particularly devastating to Texas children; and 3) an explanation of why the Title IV-E eligibility "look back" is particularly devastating to Texas children.

Child Protective Services/Foster Care Budget Cuts for 2004-05 (06/6/2003)

This Policy Page describes cuts in child welfare programs administered by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, which will receive General Revenue funding of $484 million in the biennium that begins September 1st--down from $529 million in 2002-03, for an overall cut of 9 percent in GR funding.

Preserve the safe house Bush built for children (03/3/2003)

Then-Gov. George W. Bush championed abused children, reforming laws and increasing funding for child protection. Everything he did for children, however, the 78th Legislature under Gov. Rick Perry will undo unless they fund Child Protective Services.

Testimony on Protective & Regulatory Services Budget in 2004-05 Appropriations Bill (02/25/2003)

I am F. Scott McCown, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a non-partisan, non-profit policy research organization concerned about low- and moderate-income Texans. Child welfare is an important issue for the center; it has also long been a major interest of mine.

Child Well-Being Funding Needs in 2002-2003 (02/5/2001)

On Tuesday, February 6th, the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS) is scheduled to have its budget request heard by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Individuals and groups who are concerned about state funding for child protective services (CPS), foster care, adult protective services, at-risk prevention programs for children and youth, child care regulation, and many other important DPRS programs will have a chance to testify at this hearing. This Policy Page summarizes important recent developments in DPRS funding.

All Grown Up, Nowhere to Go: Teens in Foster Care Transition (01/1/2001)

The Texas Foster Care Transitions Project, a research effort conducted by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, provides a first glimpse of a little-known but extremely vulnerable population of young people in Texasâ€" foster youth who have transitioned from the care of the state to independence.

Child Protective Services Budget Issues (03/12/1999)

One health and human service budget issue that has successfully captured legislators' attention and support is the need to increase funding for the Texas Department of Regulatory Services (DPRS), the state agency responsible for investigating and preventing abuse or neglect of Texas children and adults, regulating child care facilities, and providing foster care and adoption services for children who cannot remain in their biological families. An emergency spending package is likely to provide more money to DPRS in the remainder of this fiscal year, and the general appropriations act (HB 1/SB 2) will probably provide more resources for 2000 and 2001, although not as much as is needed to fully address Texas' child abuse crisis.

Protective Services Threatened on Many Fronts (10/26/1995)

The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS), which operates the state's Child and Adult Protective Services programs, receives funding from many federal sources. Not only does the agency rely upon traditional child welfare (i.e. child protective) funding sources like Title IV-E Foster Care and Title IV-B Child Welfare Services, DPRS also receives substantial federal funding from Title XIX Medicaid, Title XX Social Services Block Grant and Title IV-A Emergency Assistance. In all sixty percent â€" $298 million â€" of DPRS's 1996 operating budget is projected to come from federal funding sources.

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