The Guide to Texas Child Protective Services

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Jane Burstain /(512) 320-0222 x119

January 4, 2011

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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.