May 6, 2005
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Advisory Council met at the John H. Winters Building, Room 125-E, 701 West 51st Street, Austin, Texas. Council Members present were Chair Richard S. Hoffman, Dr. Ronald Brandon, John Castle, Imogen Papadopoulos, Linda Bell Robinson, Ommy Salinas Strauch, John Castle, Anne Crews, Catherine Mosbacher, and Judge Faith Johnson. A quorum was present. Also present were Commissioner Cockerell and Department staff.
Agenda Item 1 - Call to Order
Agenda Item 2 - Reading, Correction, and Approval of Minutes of March 4, 2005
Mr. Hoffman moved to approve the minutes, and Ms. Papadopoulos seconded. Approval was unanimous. The motion carried.
Agenda Item 3 - Public Testimony
Andrew D. Rivera stated that he was disillusioned and disappointed by the agency, and that he came before the Council questioning the commitment and sincerity regarding the reform of the agency. He stated that he provided a memorandum requesting a meeting to discuss his concerns but that he had not heard back. Mr. Rivera stated that he spoke with Commissioner Cockerells staff and was informed that they are not to arrange meetings, nor are they to allow meetings to take place with anyone named in a case.
Mr. Hoffman stated that they would look into policy regarding this matter.
Agenda Item 4 - Staff Briefing
4. a. Commissioners Report - Commissioner Cockerell
Commissioner Cockerell stated that over the past five months there has been progress made. He took the opportunity to talk about Project Renewal. He further stated that David Sheets would explain the project and that David and a number of the staff, from executive staff on down, have worked very hard over the last several months on project renewal. Simply put, project renewal has taken our reform package and it has boiled it down to 25 initiatives, and these initiatives involve stakeholders, staff, time tables, tasks, and it is all encompassing across our reform package. A renewal kick off is planned for Tuesday,
Commissioner Cockerell continued to talk about legislation, specifically SB 6 and the House appropriations bill. SB 6 in conference committee now. CPS reform and most DFPS funding is caught squarely in the middle of this debate and discussion. DFPS is working closely with HHSC to show why fully funding reform is essential.
May is Foster Care Month. Information on foster care and adoption will be highlighted on the DFPS website this month. Local offices and regions are hosting a number of events.
May 6 is Child Care Provider Appreciation Day. Child care organizations nationwide are encouraging parents with children in child care to take this day to show appreciation for child care providers.
Governor Rick Perry has also proclaimed May as Elder Abuse Prevention Month, a time to renew our commitment to elderly and disabled Texans. This month marks the start of a year-long effort to build closer working relationships between APS and community groups.
Commissioner Cockerell stated he will take this time as we go through the next several years, or several months in our journey to work with this Agency, to share stories. Commissioner Cockerell then shared feedback about a pair of young parents and family group conferencing.
In November of 2004, HHSC Executive Commissioner, Albert Hawkins, deployed a rapid response team to San Antonio and appointed a special administrator for CPS after a case review in the death of a five year old girl who had been reported to CPS numerous times. Staff have worked to repair public trust. Recently Bexar County Commissioners funded three adoption case worker positions out of their budget for a proposed regional staff development project called PUSH. Now CPS is beginning to push project PUSH statewide.
Commissioner Cockerell also reported that the CPS rapid response teams have pretty much been completed. And we think it was a rousing success. We have deployed cyber secretary, a transcription service, during the rapid response, continued to hear tremendous support for the time savings that has afforded field case workers.
Immediately after the statewide rapid response was finished, CPS developed a monitoring tool. The agency is very concerned about not just the closing of cases, but being able to sustain that effort and ensure that we didnt get into backlogs again. A CPS staff person in Houston came up with the mechanism to help. Its been shared statewide and put on the internet immediately.
Commissioner Cockerell continued by discussing the increased use of Cybersecretary and the positive effect it has had on CPS staff resources and time.
APS is currently involved in rapid response teams across the state. Today theyre completing the first phase. Teams have been to each region. Reports are very positive
Commissioner Cockerell thanked his staff and appreciated the support of Council members.
Mr. Castle asked about the significant difference between the Senate and the House side. Commissioner Cockerell stated that the money is a key difference to funding.
Mr. Castle asked how much money, and Commissioner Cockerell stated that the Senate, in their finance bill, has about $109 million for CPS reform, as opposed to the $253 million recommended.
Ms. Mosbacher asked whether the money is state funding, or a combination. Commissioner Cockerell responded that it is only General Revenue from state funding. The federal funding is not included.
Dr. Brandon asked whether the other big issue is outsourcing.
Commissioner Cockerell responded, Well, certainly we heard the presentation from Judge McCowan yesterday, and thats certainly what he is emphasizing. And that is a difference. As Ms. Heligenstein stated on yesterday, the Senate does have a pilot where the House is more of a slower judicious deliberate roll out. Commissioner Cockerell further stated that he did not want to diminish the differences between the two, but as we discussed yesterday, they are probably more similar than they are dissimilar. And in his opinion, that is not a large difference, or a large sticking point.
Mr. Hoffman asked what the role of the advisory council is and if they should weigh in on any legislative issue. Mr. Cockerell said they could do it individually or collectively. Mr. Hoffman said it is more powerful if we were of one mind about a particular issue. If not, individuals can write.
A discussion amongst Council members ensued regarding pilot versus roll-out and the independent administrator. Ms. Sims was asked to answer some questions.
Ms. Sims stated there are differences in both versions of Senate Bill 6 and offered to share prepared material with Council members. Ms. Papadopolous asked what the Council could do to help and Ms. Sims replied that the real issue is funding of reform.
Ms. Papadopolous asked what are the competing interests on the Senate side to that funding? Ms. Sims stated it isnt just the Senate side and explained what the funding looked like to date.
Ms. Mosbacher suggested that as a Council they join together and support maximum funding. A discussion about differences and similarities in both versions of the bill ensued.
4.b. Reform Project Update - David Sheets
David Sheets stated that the reform project was structured around items from the HHSC reports and that it is to go beyond reform and be seen as total agency renewal. APS has been working on addressing items from the report.
The presentation discussed capacity building, steering committee members, and support for the renewal project. The steering committee will have joint ownership and management of all initiatives. There are 24 separate projects. The chart demonstrates the flow of each project. Some projects will move faster than others based on the scope.
Ms. Mosbacher asked a question regarding the acronyms listed.
Mr. Castle asked whether the idea of building organizational capacity is to make the organization more of what is the overall objective, to make it more efficient, so that you look at each one of these areas and say, how can I get more out of whatever you measure performance out of existing resources, or is it to prepare for the legislation that is coming down. He wanted to the overall purpose of building organizational capacity.
Mr. Sheets stated that the things that we recognize was that you do not just change policy and train people for two or three days and think that you really achieved a change in an organization, change, and that cultural change management is a discipline in itself, and we recognize that we had to have that as an integral part.
Mr. Sheets also stated that the leadership is from within the program areas themselves.
Ms. Strauch commented that what she gets from this, having worked on change initiatives is that there are actions plans for each one of these 24 items, and those action plans will not be successful unless were also, at the same time, working on this capacity and this change management principle. Ms. Strauch also commended Mr. Sheets for setting the framework for change.
Mr. Sheets stated that we dont have the project management consultants yet but that an RFP is being developed. He also pointed out key challenges ahead such as organizational capacity and internal resources such as IT. Mr. Sheets stressed the importance of change management, communication, and working with stakeholders.
Ms. Papadopolous asked about interagency communication, for example working with DADS on guardianship issues.
Mr. Sheets responded that there will be communication from program to DADS. His role as project director is to be aware of the issue and support program.
Ms. Papadopolous stressed the need for a mechanism so that communication can be effective and successful.
4.c. Casey Family Foundation Update - Joyce James/Carolyn Rodriguez
Ms. Rodriguez expressed her appreciation for being able to update us about the Texas state strategy work that they are doing with DFPS and Child Protective Services in particular. Casey has had direct service presence in Texas since 84.
An overview and history of Caseys work in Texas was given. Examples included STEP Initiative, community building in Laredo and El Paso, and the transition center in San Antonio.
Ms. Rodriguez stated that a lot of work with DFPS around Chaffee utilization, the dollars that support young people who are leaving foster care. When the strategy started there was an operating question that really was the center piece of conversations with the executive leadership of DFPS, and it really was how Casey could best use its resources in this state. So the idea was to look at what the needs were from the Departments perspective, and ways that we could lead a collaborative strategy that could help address the accountabilities that the Department had for improvements in child welfare. A multi-pronged approach was developed using internal consultation, practice approaches and a shift to family centered practice through good practice models.
Constituency engagement and development was also looked at in terms of teaching young people, alumni from foster care, how to be their own best advocates and be able, in turn, to advocate for the system and what other youth need, and then also having the opportunity to educate policy makers.
Casey has a lot of restrictions by virtue of being an operating foundation. For example, without invited testimony from the Chair of the committee for Senate Bill 6, not much can be done. Casey picks efforts that are going to be sustainable.
Ms. James stated that the mission is to address challenges and opportunities in five major areas in Texas for the child welfare system. And those areas selected have to do with permanency and, of course, it has a focus on kinship care. A large focus is primarily on our work in kinship care for transition working to improve our efforts for transitioning youth out of the foster care system. This is also an educational piece is based on improving educational outcomes for youth in foster care.
Ms. James said that this is the second year that Casey will be fully funding our staffs participation in an educational summit on public policy involved on educational outcomes for youth. Casey is also going to sponsor for DFPS a pure technical assistance session where they will bring in information related to other states that have developed educational passports, which is part of one of the recommendations in CPS reform.
Mr. Hoffman thanked Ms. James and Ms. Rodriquez for their presentation on Casey particularly the cooperation and support in this effort.
4.d. Legislative Update - Jennifer Sims
Ms. Sims stated that 236 bills are currently being tracked. And of those, 35 are considered a priority. Of those bills, 67 are engrossed, and so theyre moving to the other chamber.
Ms. Sims highlighted key provisions of SB 6 and SB 1. She also discussed efforts at the Capitol and the conference committee process. Additional bills were mentioned and described.
Ms. Sims informed the Council Members that they did not have to appear before the nominations committee this session, as they have been confirmed to serve another term without having to appear before the legislative committee.
Ms. Papadopolous asked about the standing of the gay or lesbian foster parent ban. Ms. Sims replied that there have been serious reservations vocalized in the Senate and that the House and Senate conferees are having the discussion.
Dr. Brandon inquired about tiered licensing. Ms. Spiser replied that currently for child care centers that provide daycare services only, the Texas Workforce Commission runs a program called the Texas Rising Star Program. The program allows providers to improve the care and services that they provide in daycare to children and are rewarded through their contracts with TWC workforce boards with higher payments. This bill would more formalize that agreement and place it and the licensing division where all providers would be eligible to participate in this tiered system. Right now, only providers who have contracts with local workforce boards, or TWC, to provide daycare services can be part of the Texas Rising Star Program.
Ms. Sims added that the medical passport is still in development and that the Bill just directs the Health and Human Services Commission to create it. The Health and Human Services Commission, in preparation for that, began discussions with folks in Medicaid. All of the children who are on -- who are foster children, are eligible for Medicaid, and so it would kind of run in tandem with the Medicaid program, and probably pull the data from there and work in partnership with the records that are submitted for the Medicaid billing program.
Commissioner Cockerell added that rates now are under the purview of HHSC and discussed a meeting held to look at the model that DFPS used in the past and a model being developed.
Agenda Item 5 - New Business
5.a. Consideration to publish for public comment amendments to 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Education and Training Voucher Program - Joyce James
Ms. James presented for consideration new rules regarding the education and training voucher program. Ms. James stated that this new rule will allow us to expand and supplement the current assistance provided to eligible former and current foster care youth who will be able to extend these services up to the age of 23 to help them to begin, continue and/or complete their post-secondary education and vocational goals.
Ms. Mosbacher moved that the council recommend for proposal by the Health and Human Services Commission, the new rules concerning the education and training voucher program, as reflected in the Councils May 6, 2005, Agenda Item 5.a., and Judge Johnson seconded.
Agenda Item 6 - Old Business
6.a. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC 700.1208 concerning question of the specific goal as to the percent of children in care over 24 months - Joyce James
Ms. James stated that outlined in council packet, is consideration for the adoption of the previously proposed rule change regarding reducing the percentage goal regarding children who are in foster care for a period in excess of 24 months. The rule change will allow DFPS to lower the percentage from 45 to 35 percent. She asked that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell, and Executive Commissioner Hawkins, that these rules be adopted with an effective date of July 1, 2005.
Ms. Strauch moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Services Commission the new rule concerning the specific goal as to the percent of children in care over 24 months as is reflected in our councils May 6, 2005, Agenda Item 6.a., and Ms. Crews seconded.
6.b. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC 745.8843 concerning requesting a due process hearing - Diana Spiser
Ms. Spiser stated that outlined in council packet, is consideration for the adoption of the previously proposed rule change for requesting a due process hearing. The rule change will allow DFPS to obtain a default judgment based on notice of hearing sent to the parties last known address. No public comments were received on this rule. She asked that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell, and Executive Commissioner Hawkins, that these rules be adopted with an effective date of July 1, 2005.
Ms. Crews moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Services Commission the amended rule concerning requesting a due process hearing, as reflected in the councils May 6, 2005, Agenda Item 6.b, and Mr. Castle seconded.
6.c. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 746 concerning minimum standards for child care centers, 40 TAC, Chapter 747 concerning minimum standards for child care homes - Diana Spiser
Ms. Spiser stated as outlined in council packet, is consideration for the adoption of the previously proposed rule changes to the minimum standards for licensed child care centers and registered child care homes. All of the public comments have been addressed and are listed in your council packet. She asked that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell, and Executive Commissioner Hawkins, that these rules and the recommended changes be adopted with an effective date of July 1, 2005.
Mr. Castle moved the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Services Commission the new rules concerning licensing minimum standards for child care centers and child care homes, as reflected in councils May 6, 2005, Agenda Item 6.c., and Ms. Papadopoulos seconded.
The meeting adjourned at 11:57 am.