April 7, 2006

9:00 a.m.

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 Ommy Strauch, Richard S. Hoffman, Mamie Salazar-Harper, Paul Furukawa, John R. Castle, Jr., Faith Johnson, and Imogen Papadopoulos.  Also present was Commissioner Carey D. Cockerell and Department staff.

Agenda Item 1 – Call to Order

Call to order by Ommy Strauch.

Agenda Item 2 – Reading, Correction and Approval of Minutes of January 6, 2006

Ms. Strauch moved for approval of the minutes as presented, and Mr. Hoffman seconded.  There was no discussion, and the motion carried unanimously.

Agenda Item 3 – Public Testimony 

Andrew Rivera expressed condolences regarding the death of Sally Blackwell, CPS Program Director of the Victoria office.  Mr. Rivera proposed to play an audio recording for the Council; Ms. Strauch asked him not to do so.  Gerry Williams, General Counsel, advised  Mr. Rivera that his own live testimony would be allowable and sufficient.  Mr. Rivera challenged this decision and directive and asked Mr. Williams what was the basis of this authority.   After discussion between Mr. Williams and Mr. Rivera regarding the Open Meetings Act, Mr. Rivera was again asked to not play the recording and was requested to move on.  Mr. Rivera stated that he intends to register a complaint with the attorney general’s office regarding a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

Elizabeth S. Nelson testified to the Council regarding her experiences with CPS.  She stated her child was removed, when all she needed was Family-Based Safety Services, and said it is her belief that CPS needs help.

Dwight Steiner, Treasurer of Texas Foster Family Association, spoke to the Council about his experiences with DFPS.  Mr. Steiner believes many foster families are stuck in the middle between new legislation and licensing as to child foster care, and he noted his feeling that the new changes and rules are the causes of the dwindling number of foster care providers in the state.  He stated that each new requirement takes time away from the children. Mr. Steiner, who currently fosters nine children in his home, queried the Council on how his agency can help DFPS.

Nancy Holman, Executive Director of Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, spoke regarding the fiscal impacts of the new changes to the rules and standards of care, noting that her agency had prepared a report outlining the modifications to the standards and what the impacts would be; she said the changes are substantial and will vary from agency to agency depending on their levels of funding and support.  Ms. Holman furnished the Council copies of the report.

James Auxier, licensed therapeutic foster care provider, provided the Council with a suggested form to be used for providing background information and placement history on each foster child.  He suggested that this simple form, presented to foster parents at time of placement, would assist in more successful integrations and prevent possible disruption of placement.  Mr. Auxier went on to discuss problems associated with children who’ve experienced multiple family placements (rather than with those who are new to the foster/adoption system), and noted his belief that by incorporating use of his suggested simple form, foster parents can be proactive and not reactive.

Mr. Castle asked who on staff would look into Mr. Auxier’s recommended form and suggestions.  Commissioner Cockerell stated that Joyce James would look into it and report back to the Council with her assessment.

Irene Clements, Associate Vice President for Family Services, Lutheran Social Services, Inc., provided handouts to the Council and spoke regarding CPA Standard 749.244 and its requirement that no license holder serve more than 40 contiguous counties.  She suggested the possible solution that all branch offices covered by a permit must follow the same policies and procedures and noted that this should satisfy the concerns voiced by Licensing regarding large agencies.  Ms. Clements also remarked that large agencies should be allowed to continue to use their resources to support all of their permits in order to continue cost-beneficial business practices.  Ms. Clements suggested that one option is to base a license on the DFPS regional structure.

In closing, Ms. Clements stated that she is now the legislative and public policy chair for the Texas Foster Family Association and is in the process of receiving comments from foster parents across the state.  She will collect those comments and submit them to Licensing.

Theresa Tod, Executive Director, Texas Network of Youth Services, addressed the Council concerning the standard for emergency shelters and, specifically, the section on children’s rights.  She noted the standard calls for consideration of children's opinions and recommendations in the development and evaluation of emergency shelter facilities’ program and activities, and she suggested that what may be needed is language that speaks to age appropriateness and what is best in certain circumstances.

Ms. Tod expressed concern regarding the removal of any voice on the part of children as to what happens in their lives, and she cautioned that such input is necessary if we’re to create environments that are as home-like as possible.  At the close of her testimony, Ms. Tod distributed to the Council a small list of general comments and said her agency will provide more specific comments and suggestions before the deadline.

Robin Harrison testified before the Council concerning her 17-year-old daughter, one of five children removed from Ms. Harrison’s care by CPS in January 1998.  Ms. Harrison recounted her daughter’s experiences of, at nine years of age, rape at a CPS residential treatment center and, upon relocation to another unit in the same facility, molestation by other female residents.  Ms. Harrison declared that these incidents, as well as misdiagnoses of her daughter’s mental health, have contributed to the child’s current mental state.  Ms. Harrison continued by stating that her daughter’s present condition, as well as the initial removal of her other children from her care, resulted from an incompetent, dishonest DFPS case worker, and Ms. Harrison noted that due to the case worker’s misrepresentations and falsifications in her affidavit regarding the situation, Ms. Harrison won her court case in 1999.  Ms. Harrison continued to discuss her daughter’s time spent in and out of hospitals and Agency treatment facilities; she also noted that one of the treatment facilities, Daystar in Houston, was at the time owned by a man who also owned a pharmacy, giving rise to serious issues of conflict of interest.

Ms. Harrison declared that her case represents a liability issue because her CPS caseworker was initially responsible for the situation.  Ms. Harrison concluded her testimony by saying that although a former CPS director, Sarah Webster, reviewed the case and was familiar with the situation, no action was taken on the part of the Agency.  Ms. Harrison is particularly concerned because she states that currently, there is no plan in place for her daughter.

Mike Foster, with Caring Family Network, suggested there is a strategic and philosophical disconnect between Senate Bill 6, the reform and outsourcing efforts, and the current change in minimum standards, and he noted his belief that there are major conflicts and many cross-purposes to the bill with the proposed minimum standards.  Mr. Foster suggested that while the intent of SB 6 was to allow families to stay together, to allow innovation, to re-unify, to complete adoptions and get children to permanency and normalcy more quickly and to minimize disruptions and moves, he feels that the proposed minimum standards would do nothing but develop barriers to such normalcy and innovation.

Mr. Foster mentioned that he encouraged his agency’s foster parents to attend this meeting, but many could not come, because 9:00 a.m. is not a very convenient time for foster families.  He also said many foster families are discouraged about the process and don't think they can impact the process; they feel they have made many objections to the current standards and that the process rolled on without them.  Mr. Foster concluded by challenging the Council to stand with foster families and re-examine the proposed standards.

Roy Block, President, Texas Foster Family Association, suggested that foster parents and families are ordinary people doing extraordinary work and that they provide a valuable service to the state, but the proposed minimum standards go more toward discouraging and not encouraging and supporting these families in their efforts.  Mr. Block cited what he considers unnecessary requirements that wouldn’t happen in a “normal” home, such as labeling a child’s sippy cup with his or her first name and last initial; he stated that the proposed standards go to the point of creating more institutional-like settings, not family environments.

Mr. Block concluded by saying that the additional documentation requirements are too restrictive and discouraging to foster parents, and he advised that since foster parents tend to be the best recruiters for new foster families, the Council should re-examine the proposed new standards.  Mr. Castle asked if Mr. Block would submit his comments and suggestions to the Council in writing for further examination.  Mr. Block stated he would.

Kerry Fortune, President, Ben Richey Boys Ranch in Abilene, TX, addressed the Council regarding proposed revisions to Chapters 748 and 749 and provided a list of 11 questions, entitled “Questions the Council Should Ask.”  He read the questions for the record and encouraged the Council to find the answers before voting on the proposed standards.

Mashelle Ancell, a social worker and licensed child care administrator with Ben Richey Boys Ranch, addressed the Council regarding her concerns with the proposed changes to Chapters 748 and 749 of the minimum care standards and said that, as many have stated at past hearings, the proposed standards are very prescriptive and are not generally good for children.  Ms. Ancell stated that her study of Chapters 748 and 749 revealed that there are over 70 standards in which basic child care homes are held to higher standards than foster care homes; she also noted that there are standards in Chapter 748, such as the requirements to always have a lifeguard on duty when the children are near a body of water and having to maintain the child/staff ratio at all times, that are completely deleted from Chapter 749.

Ms. Ancell concluded by stating that other standards which are in Chapter 748 are also included in Chapter 749, but to a lesser degree; one example she cited was the requirement that house parents working in a basic child care home have a minimum of 34 hours of annual training whereas foster parents need to complete only 20 hours of annual training.  Ms. Strauch assured Ms. Ancell that her comments are appreciated and that the Council will read the rest of her online written comments.

Brenda Coffey, a foster group home provider for six years with Lutheran Social Services, Inc., testified that of the 32 children she and her husband have fostered, only one request has ever been made to remove a child that had become a danger to the other children.  Ms. Coffey recounted a few of the activities their biological and foster family enjoy and noted that these times spent together are especially important and will not be as plentiful with the additional documentation requirements in the proposed standards.

Andrea Brauer, Public Policy Consultant, Texans Care for Children, addressed the Council regarding outsourcing, the RFP, and, funding issues.   Ms. Brauer said that while DFPS studied the Kansas model for privatizing child welfare services, her agency did, also.  She noted that her agency also studied a summary review performed two years post-privatization in Kansas and that her concern is that DFPS will make some of Kansas’ initial assumptions and go down a path similar to theirs.

Ms. Brauer said her agency’s suggestion is to have a stakeholder on the multi-disciplinary team, which is slated to be on board by October '06, and noted that such a person should have a real voice at the DFPS meetings.  Her organization has discussed with Senator Nelson’s and Representatives Hupp’s and Naishtat’s offices the need to have somebody from the community at the table, as well, if we're giving services to private providers, and that all three agreed.

Ms. Brauer pointed out that according to some of the comments on the strategic plan at the January Council meeting, one of the challenges for DFPS is contracting.  And she said it seems counterintuitive to contract out all oversight to an independent administrator at this time and that it should be the responsibility of the Department to oversee this at least until 2011 and then perhaps contract it out after that.

In conclusion, Ms. Brauer stated that one thing DFPS can do is advocate, speaking boldly and loudly, for the Agency.  She remarked that the crisis with the conservatorship workers is extreme, noting that they’re overloaded; suggesting there should be a request for an emergency appropriation now; that there is no need to delay.  Ms. Brauer agreed to submit written comments for the Council.

Iman Edwards, from DePelchin Children’s Center, Houston, TX, testified about his concern with the change in the adult-to-child ratio.  He stated that he and his wife are foster and adoptive parents who care for their two biological children, two adopted children and seven children whose parents have had their parental rights revoked.  Mr. Edwards described all of the children’s successes, both academically and socially, as well as psychologically, and attributes these to the family environment he and his wife are able to provide, all of which could be jeopardized with the change in the ratio standards.  In closing, Mr. Edwards declared that the issue should not be about interruptions of children’s lives by legalities, but about the care of the children.

Arlene Fisher, Child Welfare Services Director of DePelchin Children’s Center (DCC), testified regarding her agency’s concerns with two of the proposed changes to licensing regulations:  The change in the caregiver/child ratio and the requirement for RNs on staff when caring for children with medical needs.

Ms. Fisher explained that all medical services are provided by medical professionals with specialties in treating child-specific needs, and not by DCC, and recommended that the requirement be changed to allow for this type of collaboration with medical providers, who can bill Medicaid for their services.  She noted that she would provide the Council a copy of a typical treatment plan and a brochure from these health agencies to show the kinds of services that they provide.

Ms. Fisher further stated that, regarding the ratio changes, the proposed one-to-four ratio for all children of a foster home if two or more children have treatment needs will cut a foster home capacity to four.  In conclusion, Ms. Fisher suggested that the Council consider the proposed changes to ensure that Agency concerns are being addressed through contracts and outcomes standards, but leave some flexibility. 

Don Forrester, Executive Director of STARRY, Round Rock, TX, who also worked for DFPS for 17-1/2 years, 15 of which were in child care licensing, testified that in looking at the proposed standards for facility-based and home-based, he was unclear of the rationale of why, in serving the same children in two different environments, the standards would be so radically different.  Mr. Forrester further noted his concern that there may be an anti-institutional movement taking place in the country, and he wanted to mention the fact that facilities that are licensed for the care of 13 or more children by definition are titled as institutions, but provide home-like environments for children.

Mr. Forrester concluded by encouraging the Council to look carefully at whether there really is a legitimate need for a higher level of requirement in facility-based programs, because they also provide normalized home settings for children.

Hugh Souvenir, Sr., a foster parent representing the Arrow Project, a foster group home, testified that in the past few years, more stringent requirements regarding foster care documentation and medical care accountability have been developed; he also noted that when foster parents spend a lot of time doing such cumbersome paperwork, they have a lot less time to spend and deal with the children themselves.  Mr. Souvenir closed his comments by noting that when one looks at the statistics for children in foster care, they're not being as successful as they might be when they age out of the foster care system, and he suggested that somehow children’s needs be better addressed so as to facilitate the children’s growth in nurturing home environments, versus institution-like environments.

Bob Parkhill, Vice President of Social Services for Christian Homes, who worked for CPS for ten years, testified about his concern as to the degree of regulation regarding Agency versus private, or independent, adoptions, noting that private adoptions in the state are very different than CPS placements.  He further commented that based on his group’s estimate, their current fees will need to increase $2,500 across the board in order for them to come into compliance with the proposed minimum standards.  Mr. Parkhill also expressed concern that under the new requirements, for instance, a doctor’s order is required “to administer Flintstone’s vitamins,” and a stuffed toy could not be placed in an infant’s bed.  Mr. Parkhill concluded his comments by encouraging the Council to consider the long-term effects of the changes to Chapter 749.

Kerry Fortune addressed the Council again, this time as a representative of Executives of Texas Homes for Children, and noted that he had presented a multi-page position paper developed by the association’s members.  Mr. Fortune stated that the last five or six pages of the document list at least 70 differences between the home-based and facility-based care standards in Chapters 748 and 749, and he encouraged the Council’s review of those differences.

Agenda Item 4 - Staff Briefings 

4.a. Commissioner’s Report – Commissioner Cockerell

Commissioner Carey Cockerell began his report by introducing the two newest Council members, Mamie Salazar-Harper of El Paso and Dr. Paul Furukawa of San Antonio. 

The Commissioner paid tribute to Sally Blackwell, CPS Program Director from Victoria, who lost her life a few weeks ago, and he expressed his sorrow over the loss of such a well-respected, respectful and generous person who was both a champion for children and a cheerleader among her staff.  Commissioner Cockerell reported that the Agency is currently cooperating and working with law enforcement and looking forward to a conclusion of the investigation of Ms. Blackwell’s death and noted the situation has understandably brought to the forefront of everyone’s minds the safety of DFPS employees.

The Commissioner reminded the Council that safety is addressed as a concern in Senate Bill 6, and, therefore, safety planning is a part of DFPS expanded basic skills training.  He noted that Dr. Milam started an initiative three months ago that concerns worker and office safety and that we have been working with HHSC to look at the risks and what we can do to improve safety of workers.

Commissioner Cockerell discussed HHSC’s first 180-day report to the legislature, which was submitted March 1; he noted that while this report indicates successes, it also outlines the challenges of implementing Senate Bill 6.  The Commissioner also cautioned that the agency does have a long way to go in our initiatives and renewal of the Agency and in implementation of S. B. 6.

The Commissioner reported that the announcement of the first region to be outsourced will be made by late April and that the final RFP for the outsourced region will go out April 30; he also noted that we look forward to having a contract by September.  Commissioner Cockerell mentioned the issuance of the Comprehensive Medical Services model RFP, which is expected to be released in May.

Commissioner Cockerell announced that there have been a number of legislative hearings since the last Council meeting and that we provided testimony at both the February 21 House Human Services Committee hearing to discuss their Interim Charge Number 1, relating to youth transitioning from foster care to adult living, and the March 1 Senate Health and Human Service Committee hearing to discuss Interim Charge 10, relating to monitoring and implementation of House Bill 2292.  He also mentioned the House Civil Practice Committee hearing, set for April 18, to receive testimony regarding their Interim Charge 5, which evaluates liability risks associated with privatization of Child Welfare Services for providers, and he noted that as other interim hearings continue to hold their meetings and discuss charges affecting DFPS, the Agency will be present as a resource.

The Commissioner updated the Council on his tour of the DFPS regions, which he recently completed by visiting Region 3.  He mentioned that he estimates he has met hundreds of staff members personally and remarked on how he was struck by the work and commitment of DFPS workers across the state. DFPS Commissioner Cockerell discussed the working environments and conditions he has seen, including both good and bad examples, and related a few anecdotes - many humorous, some not so humorous, many quite touching - provided by staff and volunteers during his visits, and he said that he plans to begin making rounds to the regions again.

Commissioner Cockerell discussed the upcoming statewide public hearings on the Strategic Plan and noted that the Council has the schedule for those and that Dr. Milam will be providing further information.  The Commissioner also reported that the Legislative Appropriation Request (LAR) public meeting to go over the proposed DFPS exceptional items for the next biennium and to receive public input is scheduled for the end of this month.

The Commissioner announced that he started a round-table for providers. He noted the importance of personal visits with and receipt of input from our providers across the state; he further reported that we’ve identified both geographically and by size our provider base and that there are ten or twelve providers who meet with him every other month in order to discuss issues important to them and us. 

Commissioner Cockerell reported that Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill has begun an initiative to address child protection case management and reporting, and he noted that we have been working with her over the last six months, and mentioned that Judge John Specia now is chair of a Texas Supreme Court task force on foster care.  The Commissioner said they as a group met with the chief justice of the supreme court of New York regarding that court’s Permanent Judicial Commission on Children and that as a result, the Supreme Court here recently passed an order for an initiative to look at case management or data-processing for our child welfare or child protection courts in Texas.  This order appoints the task force to see what recommendations it can make between now and October on how we can break those statistics out and report them statewide, so we can look at resources and the judiciary can know what they need.

The Commissioner mentioned that May is National Elder Abuse Prevention Month and reported that the new 2006 APS campaign, "It's Everybody's Business," will also launch this May coinciding with the national effort.  The new APS campaign will replace the "Not Forgotten" campaign used by APS in the past few years, but will continue throughout the year.  Commissioner Cockerell said the new campaign will be focused on the issues of summertime heat-related problems with the elderly and disabled, mental illness and homelessness and how communities can help, and then dealing with financial exploitation and partnering with the local financial institutions to provide information.

The Commissioner noted additionally that Regional staff have planned several events and are working with community groups and leaders on promoting the campaign and that APS is distributing a video public service announcement to television stations statewide as part of the campaign.  This video can currently be viewed on the DFPS web site

Commissioner Cockerell also reminded the Council that April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in Texas and nationally and, in recognition of this campaign, DFPS is teaming up with community groups and citizens statewide to increase awareness about this important issue.  The Commissioner went on to read Governor Perry’s proclamation, issued March 15, declaring April as Texas Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

Judge Johnson noted for the Council that although Mr. Castle is shown throughout the January 6, 2006 Council meeting minutes as having made and/or seconded some motions, he is not listed in the minutes as having been present at that meeting.  After brief discussion, Judge Johnson made a motion to amend the meeting minutes, which was seconded by Mr. Hoffman.  There was no further discussion, and the motion passed.

4.b. Strategic Plan - Sue Milam    

Deputy Commissioner Milam announced to the Council that a copy of the DFPS Strategic Plan document had been provided in their meeting packets and that HHSC, which develops a new strategic plan every two years, directs our activities on the plan.  Dr. Milam recounted the procedures followed, described as a fairly formalized process of identifying strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats that we need to be looking ahead at for the years 2007 to 2011 in trying to predict and perhaps anticipate some of the issues that we are going to be facing.

Dr. Milam expressed her appreciation to Ms. Papadopoulos, Judge Johnson and Mr. Castle for their comprising the Council Strategic Plan Committee in order to review the staff’s work on the plan thus far and for their commentary and input regarding the plan.  She also thanked Ms. Strauch, who also participated in the process.  She reminded the Council that there would be public hearings statewide regarding the plan document, beginning mid-April, and that eight hearings are already scheduled. 

Dr. Milam further described the public hearing and commentary process and time line and noted that the final plan document will be submitted to HHSC in July.  She concluded her comments by encouraging Council members to attend and participate in these hearings.

Judge Johnson and Ms. Papadopoulos queried Dr. Milam regarding some of the language in the plan document on pages 18 and 23 relating to the percentages of Hispanics and African-Americans in the general population versus the percentages of those ethnic groups in the foster care population.  Dr. Milam responded by noting that African-American children spend more time in the foster care system.

Dr. Milam then asked Joyce James, Assistant Commissioner for Child Protective Services, to explain, and Ms. James did so, noting that while Hispanics hold a larger percentage in the general population, their percentage in the foster care population is smaller, and, although African-Americans have a smaller percentage in the general population, their percentage in the foster care population is larger.  After a brief discussion, Dr. Milam and Ms. James agreed that the particular plan document language in question needs to be further clarified and stated that they would do so.

Agenda Item 5 – New Business

5.a. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, §700.316, Eligibility Requirements for Title IV-E, MAO, and State-Paid Foster-Care Assistance, and; §700.324, Re-determination of Foster Care Eligibility - Joyce James

Joyce James, Assistant Commissioner for Child Protective Services, discussed the proposed rule changes related to eligibility requirements for Medical Assistance Only (MAO) and State-Paid Foster Care Assistance and noted that CPS has recommended these, as well as re-determination of Foster Care Eligibility, in order to comply with House Bill 614.  Ms. James further discussed the specifics of the changes and noted what fiscal impacts there might be; she then advised that CPS requests the Council to recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that the proposed rule changes be approved, so they can be published in the Texas Register for public comment.

Mr. Castle made the motion to approve the recommended rule changes, and Mr. Hoffman seconded.  There was no other discussion, and the motion carried.

5.b. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 705, §705.6101, Risk Assessment Criteria for Adult Protective Services - Debra Wanser  

Debra Wanser, Assistant Commissioner for Adult Protective Services, presented the proposed rule addition concerning risk assessment criteria for APS and noted that APS is requesting this addition to comply with Senate Bill 6, which requires that HHSC adopt rules to provide specific criteria for APS field staff when assessing risk during an investigation of alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation.  Ms. Wanser noted that the risk criteria cover five domains:  Financial, social, medical, mental status and environmental.  She asked that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that this proposed rule be published in the Texas Register for public comment.

Mr. Hoffman moved to approve the recommended rule addition, and Ms. Johnson seconded his motion.  There was no further discussion, and the motion carried.

5.c. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 745, Licensing, supporting the revision of Residential Minimum Standards - Diana Spiser

Diana Spiser, Assistant Commissioner for Child Care Licensing, discussed changes to the administrative rules that will support the proposed changes to the residential minimum standards that were proposed at the January 2006 Council meeting, and she asked the Council to recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal comment.

Ms. Papadopoulos moved approval and recommendation of the proposed changes; Ms. Johnson seconded the motion.  After no further discussion, the motion carried.

5.d.Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 745, Licensing; Chapter 746, Minimum Standards for Child-Care Centers, and; Chapter 747, Minimum Standards for Child-Care Homes - Diana Spiser

Ms. Spiser presented these changes to the rules, made in order to implement legislation passed during the 79th Legislature and to provide clarification to existing rules.  She asked that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.

Ms. Johnson made a motion for approval and recommendation to the Commissioner and Executive Commissioner of the proposed changes, and Ms. Castle seconded the motion.  There was no other discussion, and the motion passed.

5.e. Recommendation to propose rule changes to 40 TAC, §700.2502, General Requirements for Contracting with Licensed Residential Child-Care Providers, and §732.203, How long may a contract period last, and when may the contract be renewed - Jeannie Coale

Jeannie Coale, Assistant Commissioner for Purchased Client Services, brought before the Council two proposed contract rules, the first rule being in Chapter 700, intended to align the Department with federal rules regarding contracting with child-placing agencies.  Ms. Coale noted that this new rule will allow the Department to contract with both for-profit and non-profit child-placing agencies, and she remarked that not only will this potentially increase the number of entities interested in contracting with the Department, but it will also facilitate the implementation of our outsourcing model.

In her discussion of the second rule, which is in Chapter 732, Ms. Coale commented that it describes the length of the contracting period that the Department currently utilizes and that this change adds a new section for outsourcing of substitute care and case management services and the evaluation of the provision of those services.  She noted the rule would allow the Department to enter into a five-year contract initially, with two optional two-year renewal periods.

Ms. Coale requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins the proposed rules for publication in the Texas Register for public comment. 

Ms. Salazar-Harper moved for approval of the item, and Ms. Papadopoulos seconded the motion.  After brief discussion, the vote was called, and the motion carried without opposition.

Agenda Item 6 – Old Business
6a.  Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC, §705.5101, Training and Education*

Jane Norwood with the Center for Policy and Innovation presented these rule changes and noted that they are being made in order to comply with Senate Bill 6, which requires that the Executive Commissioner adopt rules to ensure that Adult Protective Services training includes actual cases investigated by APS staff as case examples.  Ms. Norwood reminded the Council that at their January meeting, they were asked to approve the publication of the proposed rules for public comment.  She reported that the rule was published in the Texas Register on February 3, the public comment period ended March 6, and we received no comment from the public on the proposed rule change. 

Ms. Norwood requested the Council to approve adoption of the rule as it was published in the Texas Register.

Ms. Hoffman made a motion to adopt the Adult Protective Services training and education rule, and Mr. Furukawa seconded.  Mr. Furukawa asked for confirmation that the actual names are kept confidential.  Ms. Norwood confirmed that they are.  After discussion regarding the rules, the vote was called, and the motion passed unanimously.

Agenda Item 7 - Adjourn

After confirmation of July 6, 2006 as the next DFPS work session and July 7, 2006 as the next Council meeting, Mr. Castle moved to adjourn the meeting, Ms. Papadopoulos seconded that motion, and the meeting was adjourned by Chairman Strauch.