Staff Retention and Recognition

DFPS has historically had very high turnover, especially in Child Protective Services (CPS). In FY 2017, DFPS made significant strides in retention. CPS turnover fell from 25.4 percent in FY 2016 to 18.4 percent by August 2017. As a result, CPS investigation caseloads declined 32.5 percent, conservatorship caseloads by 12.1 percent, and family-based safety services caseloads by 29.6 percent. Lower caseloads and increased tenure improve the overall quality of casework and the safety of children. One example is in the percentage of children seen timely in priority 1 cases, which increased from 77.6 percent in January 2017 to 91.3 percent in August 2017. Several factors led to this turnaround, including:

  • Commissioner Whitman’s request for more investigators and caseworkers and for a salary increase for CPS direct delivery staff, which the Legislature approved and funded.
  • The focus on accountability in the commissioner’s Ten-Point Plan, which resulted in new CPS leadership, improved training, and higher standards for supervisors, including competency exams for applicants.

While DFPS holds its staff accountable, it also recognizes those who go above and beyond to keep children and vulnerable adults safe. DFPS began the Commissioner's Proud to Protect Award Program in FY 2017, consisting of three ways to recognize DFPS staff and partners:

  • The Commissioner's Award of Excellence is awarded to DFPS staff or partners who do extraordinary work to protect Texans and show a strong dedication to DFPS and its work.
  • The DFPS Team Integrity Award recognizes a program, unit, or team that demonstrates exceptional teamwork and produces an extraordinary outcome.
  • The DFPS Award of Distinction is a regional award that recognizes staff members from each DFPS program across the state.

DFPS began holding monthly employee recognition ceremonies for winners of the Commissioner’s Award of Excellence and staff promoted to supervisor or above. Honorees can invite their families to see them receive awards or certificates and take pictures with the commissioner and other leaders, and their accomplishments are celebrated in the agency’s employee newsletter. DFPS recognized 233 promoted staff and bestowed the Commissioner’s Award of Excellence on 30 DFPS staff and 12 partners in FY 2017. DFPS also created an inspirational video that reminds DFPS employees why they do their jobs. Together, these awards and activities created enthusiasm, increased job satisfaction, and supported staff retention.