AUSTIN (March 25, 2015) — Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner John Specia directing the agency to implement comprehensive reforms to the state’s foster care and child protective services following the death of three children under DFPS supervision in the first three months of 2015.
“Abuse or neglect of our most vulnerable Texans – our children – is intolerable and it is especially unacceptable when it happens to a child under the care umbrella of the State of Texas,” writes Governor Abbott in the letter. “Texas urgently needs comprehensive reforms to the state’s struggling foster care and child protection systems to ensure we put children in safe environments, provide them with a sense of permanency, and learn from the tragedies of the past.”
Governor Abbott noted his proposal to add an additional $40 million in funding for children and families at risk and foster children, and outlined a series of specific measures he directed DFPS to implement to better care for children in Texas’ protective care or foster care system:
- Require CPS regional management to enforce policies regarding face-to-face visits with children and caregivers in both foster care and safety placements.
- Require CPS staff to provide families, caregivers, and stakeholders with information to support child safety in a variety of ways including: firearm safety, safety around water, vehicle safety and safe sleep practices.
- Develop and implement a Parent-Child Safety Placements (PCSP) caregiver/home screening tool to thoroughly assess the appropriateness and ability of each potential PCSP caregiver.
- Develop and implement a policy to prohibit closing a PCSP investigation without wrap-around or follow-up services in place.
- Research and implement new policies as needed to address recidivism related to safety of children in PCSP placements.
- Establish a practice and protocol for conducting a thorough review of all child fatalities or critical injuries resulting in hospitalization; ensure that findings are used in a truly meaningful way to improve CPS policies and practices.
- Improve the performance evaluation and recertification process for foster care contractors to ensure the safety and well-being of foster children is in the hands of truly quality providers.
- Establish and implement caseworker protocols to educate foster children about how to anonymously report abuse and neglect.
To read the full letter, click here.