House Bill 5
On May 31, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 5 into law at a ceremony at DFPS headquarters in Austin, which made DFPS an independent state agency, separate from the Health and Human Services system. Effective September 1, 2017, DFPS became an independent agency, reporting directly to the Governor of Texas.
HB 5 recognized that DFPS needed independence to be able to act quickly to make the changes and improvements needed to better protect children and adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. HB 5 creates a direct line of communication and accountability from DFPS to the Office of the Governor.
Senate Bill 11
Another key piece of legislation that was signed into law in FY 2017 was Senate Bill 11, which directs DFPS to expand Community-Based Care (formerly Foster Care Redesign). SB 11 requires a community-based approach to meeting the individual and unique needs of children, youth, and families. Within a geographic service area, a single contractor (officially a single source continuum contractor or SSCC) will be responsible for securing placement in foster homes or making other living arrangements for children in state care and providing them a full continuum of services.
The SSCC will be responsible for developing new foster care capacity, building a network of providers, engaging the community, finding homes and placements for children, providing case management, and coordinating and delivering services to children in foster care and their families. Community-Based Care will serve both children in foster care and those in kinship care (children in state legal custody who live with extended family).
As Community-Based Care takes shape statewide over a number of years, the focus of the DFPS Child Protective Services program will shift to ensuring quality oversight of foster care and services for children and families. The SSCC will be responsible for case management and services that move children from foster care or kinship care into a permanent home. It is also important to note that DFPS retains all investigative functions, while placement and case management will become the responsibility of the SSCC.