Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Advisory Council Meeting
July 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 Chair Ommy Strauch, John Castle, Jr., Mamie Salazar-Harper, Paul Furukawa, Richard S. Hoffman, Faith Johnson, Imogen Papadopoulos, and Linda Bell Robinson. Also present were Commissioner Carey Cockerell and Department staff.
Agenda Item 1 – Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Strauch.
Agenda Item 2 – Reading, Correction and Approval of Minutes of April 7, 2006
Ms. Papadopoulos identified two minor corrections and then moved approval of the minutes, and Mr. Hoffman seconded. Approval was unanimous.
Agenda Item 3 – Public Testimony
Andrew Rivera addressed the Council and noted some corrections to his testimony of January 6, 2006. He then went on to state that nearly a year ago, when he first addressed the Council, he was “merely disillusioned” and that today, he is “disgusted” by this Agency. Mr. Rivera cited the investigation of him and his family and stated that it was not prompt and thorough as required by law, and he stated that the Agency has shown itself to be one that does not believe in statute and one that does not believe in correcting mistakes.
Mr. Rivera reminded the Council of his attempt to play an audiocassette at the aforementioned meeting; he discussed the discourse between Gerry Williams, DFPS General Counsel, and himself during that meeting, noting that Mr. Williams’ remarks concerning the interpretation of the Open Meetings Act were incorrect. He remarked that the Council’s refusal to allow him to play the audiocassette constituted an abridgement of his constitutional rights, and he stated, “So we’ll leave that to the courts.”
Mr. Rivera discussed information he gleaned through the Open Records Act regarding the possible hiring by DFPS of a particular person, an act he deems to be an unfair hiring practice, and cited this to be, “Another example of this foul agency’s behavior.” Mr. Rivera asked that this practice be corrected immediately.
Nancy Holman, Executive Director of Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, opened her remarks by thanking the DFPS staff and acknowledging the openness of the process of developing the standards, noting how appreciative her agency’s members are for the Agency’s receptiveness to many of their comments. Ms. Holman went on to discuss the revisions to the minimum standards and stated her belief that the cost data utilized when considering these revisions are outdated; she noted that for Fiscal Year 2008-2009, data gleaned from 2004 costs as reported by providers were used.
Ms. Holman concluded by asking that the Council, when moving forward with any recommendations regarding these standards, add a request that HHSC take into consideration the fiscal impact of the standards and address that issue to the greatest extent they can in setting a rate increase for this provider network.
Ralph Gibbs, a foster parent through Methodist Children’s Home, provided handouts to the Council regarding his concerns and discussed the terms “discipline” and “punishment” as used in the DFPS rules definitions. He stated he appreciated removal of the statement, “Discipline of any type is inappropriate and not permitted for toddlers," and noted that the phrase should have included infants, as well.
Mr. Gibbs pointed out the fact that “discipline” is included in the definitions, but the word “punishment” is not. He recommended adding “punishment” to the definitions and then preventing any foster parent from punishing a child who's an infant, and not preventing foster parents from providing corrective guidance, or “discipline.”
Connie Barker, representing Depelchin Children’s Center, echoed Ms. Holman’s thanks and compliments to the staff and noted they have been very helpful. Ms. Barker discussed the primary medical needs provisions and stated that since they’ve been modified, they appear to meet the needs of those who use a collaborative model with home healthcare agencies.
Ms. Barker discussed the time limit for respite care during investigations and noted that 60 days will work and, as a result, children won’t have to be relocated after being placed in respite care, provided investigations are completed within that time frame. She also expanded on Ms. Holman’s concerns as to the financial impact, noting that the changed ratios are going to have great impacts in costs to all providers. She stated that residential treatment costs will substantially increase and that she believes providers that don't enjoy charitable support may not be able to provide residential treatment under the changed rules unless the rates are raised substantially.
Ms. Barker concluded by expressing her concern with the cost base and stated that since the cost data relied upon is four years old and does not take into account the new ratios, she strongly urges the Council to go to HHSC with some modifications to cover the cost of those changed ratios.
Kerry Fortune, President of Ben Richey Boys Ranch, Abilene, TX, discussed his attendance at prior Council meetings, his work with the Agency and the changes that have come about; he expressed his organization’s thanks for those changes, noting he still had a few concerns. He cited as one of those concerns the kinship care program and remarked that “kinship” is a misnomer because, although it implies a child will be placed with a relative, that isn’t the case and a child does not need to be related in order to be placed in kinship care.
Mr. Fortune went on to mention his concerns regarding discrepancies between Chapters 748 and 749 and stated that one particular concern is the definition of institutional care, noting that the definition was formulated in 1975 and is out of date. Another example of a discrepancy as cited by Mr. Fortune was the difference in training for a private placement program, versus a foster home, and he pointed out that while a foster home must receive ten hours of training per person per year, for a total of 20 hours per couple, his group must receive 20 hours of training per person per year, for a total of 40 hours per couple. He stated that this required training is costly for his facility and that he believes this puts the foster parents in an unfair advantage.
Another discrepancy cited by Mr. Fortune was the fact that SB 6 does not require Foster parents working for a child-placing agency to be drug-tested, while institutions are specifically required to drug-test their employees. He noted his belief that the definition for a foster group home as stated in information from the Department applies to his organization, since it, “Provides care of primary residence of the foster parents and provides care for seven to 12 children," or in his Ranch’s case, eight children.
In closing, Mr. Fortune suggested changing the sentence, “Under the regulation of a child-placing agency,” to something to include or allow, “Under a children’s home.” He stated that since his organization has as many as eight children in each if their homes, just as foster homes do, his group should be allowed the same privileges that Chapter 749 includes.
Robin Harrison discussed her appearance at the April meeting before the Council regarding her daughter, Raven, who became 18 years of age on May 30, 2006 and who even at that time had been provided no transition plan. Ms. Harrison talked about her continued contact with CPS, APS, DADS, DMR, MHMR and CASA, including trips to Dallas, TX, and renting cars in order to do so, in order to resolve this situation, noting many problems during the process, all to no avail.
Ms. Harrison noted that her daughter has been hospitalized four times since June 9, 2006 and that she was suspended from school 82 times between January and May, 2006, and, thus, should not have been able to graduate, but in Agency records is shown to somehow have graduated. Ms. Harrison stated that her daughter is a danger to herself and that the only way she will go to a hospital is if the police deem that to be so.
Ms. Harrison concluded by stating what a chaotic and financially and emotionally draining situation this has been and that she is doing everything she possibly can, but someone should intervene and do right by her daughter.
Agenda Item 4 - Agency Briefings
4a. Commissioner’s Report – Commissioner Cockerell
Commissioner Carey Cockerell reported that the Inter-Agency Coordinating Council (ICC) for Building Healthy Families is up and running and, on June 1, 2006, submitted its first report to the legislature; he reminded the Council that the ICC was sponsored by Representative Dawnna Dukes through House Bill 1685.
The Commissioner discussed information regarding the Comptroller's statement about children in the Texas foster care system and included a link to the HHSC and DSHS study report entitled "Use of Psychotropic Medication in Texas Foster Care Children, State Fiscal Year 2005," which examined the use of psychotropic medications among foster children in the five months before the release of the new guidelines to healthcare providers and in the five months after, and noted that the report findings indicate a decrease in the percentages of foster children prescribed and taking psychotropic drugs. He also provided an update on the information roundtable of health last week for the media and the status of the Department’s renewal and reform efforts and challenges attached to our caseloads.
Commissioner Cockerell reported that the process for outsourcing substitute care in case management services in Region 8 is moving along as planned and noted a smooth transition into the request for proposal stage, which ends July 30, and that he will update the Council after the RFP process is complete.
The Commissioner stated that DFPS and HHSC issued a new report last week on reducing disproportionality in the Texas child welfare system, a copy of which was provided to Council members, and said the report is a follow-up to the report issued in January 2006. He noted that the initial report indicated disproportionality, the over-representation of a particular race or ethnicity, exists within the Texas CPS system even when taking into account other nationally recognized relevant factors, such as age and sex of the victim, family income, allegation type and marital status, and that the reason this occurs is multifaceted and very complex.
Commissioner Cockerell explained that the second report is presented in three parts: 1, a review of the enforcement policies and a development of corresponding remediation plans; 2, a plan for additional research to examine the relationship of poverty, race, ethnicity and risk in CPS case decisions, and; 3, an update on the four cultural awareness activities mandated in Section 1.54 of Senate Bill 6.
The Commissioner discussed the recent launch of the water safety campaign, See & Save, and noted that at least 34 children have already drowned in Texas this year, 18 in the Houston area alone; he observed that that number represents nine more drownings than at this same time last year and that this summer is not over. He noted that the message of the campaign is simple, but terribly important: "Never leave children alone or unsupervised near water, not even for a couple of minutes. If you can't see them, you can't save them." The safety messages will run on well-placed billboards, as well as radio and print media.
Commissioner Cockerell announced the June 5, 2006 rollout of the “Look before You Leave” campaign, with DFPS public information officers conducting press conferences across the state, and stated the campaign reminds parents and caregivers to never leave a child in a parked car and to check the car before walking away. He stated that libraries and childcare providers have been providing information about materials available on the Department website and that CCL staff are working with providers to ensure that children are never left in childcare vehicles.
Commissioner Cockerell announced the recent naming of DFPS Chief Operating Officer Ben Delgado as the 2006 Public Administrator of the Year by the Central Texas Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration, noting the fact that Mr. Delgado was nominated by several of his division leaders and was honored at a gala dinner here in Austin in May 2006.
The Commissioner reported that DFPS Information Technology received a Laureate Award from the Computer World Honors Program for the Mobile Protective Service (MPS) application and remarked that DFPS was one of only 58 government and nonprofit organizations worldwide to be recognized with these awards.
In conclusion, Commissioner Cockerell announced that the MPS project also won the Business Evolution through Mobilizing Field Workers award this May at Computer World Magazine's conference honoring global public and for-profit organizations with mobile work forces.
Upon query by Ms. Papadopoulos regarding whether this year’s statistics concerning drownings include children at DFPS facilities, Mr. Cockerell replied that there were two this year: One was a child who drowned at a central Texas facility while on an outing; the other was a young foster child who fell from a fishing pier and drowned.
Chairman Strauch congratulated Commissioner Cockerell on the awards, all of the accomplishments and the work that's being done.
4b. Strategic Plan - Sue Milam
Sue Milam, Deputy Commissioner , began her presentation by providing a copy of the DFPS portion of the 2007-2011 HHSC coordinated strategic plan, as well as a side-by-side comparison of some of the recent changes. Dr. Milam reminded the Council that the HHSC held eight public hearings throughout the state in April and May while seeking public input on this plan; she thanked Council members for taking the time and effort to attend some of these hearings, noting her belief that these hearings served as an acute reminder of the critical services that HHS agencies provide and gave a sense of some of the needs of our clients and constituents.
Dr. Milam reported that the complete and revised version of the 2007-2011 coordinated plan is due to the legislative offices today and that she understands it will be posted on their website sometime afterwards. She noted that the Council would receive paper copies of the plan as soon as they become available.
Dr. Milam reiterated thanks to Council members and thanked program staff, because this was an effort from all the programs to compile the information. She also extended thanks to Colleen Edwards, an HHSC project planner on loan to DFPS, and noted that Ms. Edwards helped drive the process and worked on all the final revisions and put all the pieces together.
In conclusion, Dr. Milam announced that in the fall of 2007, we will begin the process all over again for the 2009-2013 strategic plan.
Ms. Papadopoulos remarked that her experience at a Houston hearing was that there was no testimony at all concerning DFPS, and she asked Dr. Milam what agencies received comments. Dr. Milam replied that while the comments varied from one region of the state to another, of the hearings she personally attended, the one in the San Antonio area focused almost entirely on mental health issues, with a couple of comments about APS toward the end of the hearing, and one in the south Texas area that focused on some of the problems with eligibility changes in the Agency and at which a lot of commentary was received. Dr. Milam remarked that critical issues within DFPS such as outsourcing didn’t arise at the hearings .
4c. Chair’s Report - Ommy Strauch
Chairman Ommy Strauch began her report by directing the Council to comments provided in their packets. She reminded the Council of a presentation at the April Council meeting from Mr. Auxier, who runs a group home, noting that he had some suggestions of processes to prevent or reduce disruptions of placement and that the Council had asked the CPS department to take a look at them. She reported that CPS has since determined that some of the processes that he was referring to are actually the responsibility of child-placing agencies and therefore outside of the Department's jurisdiction, but the staff is looking to include some remaining suggestions that may be pertinent to the work done by the Department.
Chairman Strauch discussed Mr. Castle’s request at the April Council meeting, following Terri Ware’s presentation, to obtain some figures regarding staff turnover. She directed the Council to a chart, which shows those figures by categories.
Chairman Strauch announced that Governor Perry has appointed John Castle to chair the Parental Advisory Committee (PAC); she stated this committee was formed as a result of SB 6 and is a committee that is an opportunity for parents who have had worked with CPS of any kind to give feedback back to the Department about how that can be improved.
Chairman Strauch announced some preliminary appointments as Council liaisons: Immy Papadopoulos for APS; Richard Hoffman for CCL; Judge Faith Johnson for CPS generally, with John Castle for the PAC; Mamie Salazar-Harper for both Purchased Client Services and Prevention and Early Intervention; Ommy Strauch for Outsourcing and as co-chair of the Regional Transition Advisory Committee; Dr. Paul Furukawa for Staff Development and Retention, and; Linda Robinson for Operations, Legal, IT and Data Processing.
Chairman Strauch discussed generally the many activities by Council members since the April 2006 meeting. The Chairman reported that the Regional Transition Advisory Committee has been created and that this committee is comprised of stakeholders in the community whose responsibility will be to give feedback to the department and independent administrator on issues of concern; she noted that while this committee is currently still in formation, the goal is to elicit input from educators, medical professionals, foster parents, and people who may deal with children who have disabilities, and the committee will be co-chaired by Arabia Vargas, who is the president of the child welfare board in San Antonio, and herself.
Chairman Strauch announced that on July 11, 2006, at the Governor’s invitation, she will attend a meeting with other chairs and/or presiding officers of state boards and commissions and that the purpose of the meeting is to inform said attendees of the next appropriations process and what we can look for in the next legislative session. She then turned to Dr. Furukawa to report on one of his more recent activities.
Dr. Furukawa announced that he attended the second of regular meetings in the San Antonio area of the Judges’ Diversion Project, which is intended to divert especially high-risk youth from both the juvenile justice system and the child protective services system. He remarked that because key representatives from all of the relevant agencies are part of this, the type of collaboration is of such a positive nature and spirit that one cannot help but be optimistic about what is going to be accomplished.
Chairman Strauch concluded her report by announcing some upcoming events and opportunities. APS is in the midst of a public awareness program. San Antonio will host Adoption Day on July 14, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. On November 1, 2006, Region 11 will host a National Adoption Month luncheon.
Agenda Item 5 - Council Operations
5a. Vice Chair Election* - Ommy Strauch
Mr. Hoffman nominated Ms. Papadopoulos as the new Vice Chair, and Judge Johnson seconded the nomination. Chairman Strauch called for other nominations and, there being none, called for the vote. The nomination passed, unanimously and Ms. Papadopoulos was elected as new Vice Chair of the Council.
5b. Selection of Meeting Dates: 2007 Calendar Year* - Ommy Strauch
Chairman Strauch reminded the Council that the January 2007 meeting dates have already been set for Thursday, January 4, for the work session and Friday, January 5, for the Council meeting. Work session and Council meeting dates for July and October 2007 were discussed, and those were tentatively set as: Thursday, July 19, for the work session and Friday, July 20, for the Council meeting, and Thursday, October 4, for the work session and Friday, October 5, for the Council meeting. The Chairman stated that Council members will be notified as soon as those dates are confirmed.
Agenda Item 6 – New Business
6a. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Child Protective Services (regarding audiotaping and videotaping interviews)* - Beth Engelking
Beth Engelking, Child Protective Services Support Manager, discussed this rule and noted that prior to the last legislative session, the statute required that alleged victims of physical and sexual abuse be audiotaped and videotaped during an investigation, and it gave the Agency authority to promulgate rules for good-cause exceptions to that requirement. SB 6 changed the requirement to make audiotaping and videotaping of all children during investigations a requirement.
Mr. Castle moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the Health and Human Services Commission an amendment to Section 700.409 and the repeal of Section 700.522 concerning audiotaping and videotaping interviews of alleged victims, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 6a. Judge Johnson seconded the motion. There was no further discussion, and the motion carried.
6b. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Section 700.519, Voluntary Standards for Investigators of Child Abuse* - Beth Engelking
Ms. Engelking presented these proposed changes and mentioned that prior to the passage of SB 6, the statute required that the Agency have voluntary standards for people who conduct investigations into neglect and abuse of children and that the change in the statute has deleted the word "voluntary,” now making standards for those who investigate abuse and neglect mandatory.
Other modifications pursuant to SB 6 include expanded requirements for training, to include forensic style training for staff, requirements for how to audiotape and videotape children during interviews, and changes to the required length of time for retention of certain documents in case records.
Judge Johnson moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the HHSC an amendment to Section 700.519 concerning standards for investigators, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 6b. Ms. Papadopoulos seconded the motion. No further discussion ensued, and the motion was passed.
6c. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 705, Subchapter M, Confidentiality and Release of Records* - Debra Wanser
Debra Wanser, Assistant Commissioner for Adult Protective Services, discussed this rule and noted that SB 6 requires that HHSC adopt rules to explain to whom and under what circumstances DFPS may disclose APS case records made confidential under Section 48.101 of the Human Resources Code. Ms. Wanser then requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that this rule change be proposed and published in the Texas Register for public comment.
Ms. Papadopoulos moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the HHSC the new sections concerning confidentiality and release of records for APS, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 6c., and Judge Johnson seconded. There was no other discussion, and the motion carried.
6d. Recommendation to propose a new rule in 40 TAC, Chapter 705, Section §705.8101, Public Awareness* - Debra Wanser
Ms. Wanser discussed how SB 6 requires that, subject to the availability of funds, HHSC adopt rules to develop and implement a statewide public awareness campaign designed to educate the public regarding abuse, neglect and exploitation of elderly persons and persons with disabilities. Ms. Wanser requested the Council to recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that this new rule be proposed and published in the Texas Register for public comment.
Dr. Furukawa moved that the Council recommend for proposal for the HHSC new Section 705.8101, concerning public awareness, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 6d., and Ms. Salazar-Harper provided a second. No other discussion ensued, and the motion carried.
6e. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 702, General Administration* - Carolyn Bivens
Carolyn Bivens, Interim Director of the Center for Policy and Innovation, presented these changes, noting they also result from SB 6, and stated that the legislation requires the Department to develop and implement an incentive program to encourage Department employees providing adult protective services to obtain professional credentials if they do not already possess such credentials.
Ms. Bivens stated that the rule provides criteria for the incentive program and that there are amendments to the rule to correct the Department's name and to delete a reference to the PRS board. She said it was recommended that the Council recommend proposal of the rule for publication in the Texas Register for public comment.
Ms. Papadopoulos moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the HHSC the amendments of the new section concerning the APS incentive program, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 6e., and Judge Johnson seconded the motion. There was no other discussion, and the motion carried.
6f. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 704, Prevention and Intervention Services* - Jeannie Coale
Jeannie Coale, Assistant Commissioner for Purchased Client Services, discussed this proposal and remarked that these changes were also recommended from SB 6, where the Department was directed to administer and write rules for the Community-Based Family Services Grant program; she noted that this proposal is for three new rules that outline that program in our rules section.
Ms. Coale noted that other modifications to this section include a change to the Department’s name, correction of a reference to the electronic State Business Daily and deletion of a reference to a program that's no longer with the Department. She stated that it was recommended that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins the publication of these new rules and amendments in the Texas Register for public comment.
Ms. Salazar Harper moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the HHSC the amendments and new sections concerning the Community-Based Family Services Grant program, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 6f. Mr. Castle provided a second. There was no additional discussion, and the motion passed.
Agenda Item 7a – Old Business
7a. Recommendation to adopt rule changes to 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* - Beth Engelking
Ms. Engelking stated that these changes were proposed in response to legislation and published for public comment in the Texas Register in April 2006. The first change is to extend foster care to age 22 for youth who are enrolled in high school or secondary school; the second extends care to age 21 for youth who are in a vocational or technical program; the third change deletes the requirement that placements be non-profit (coincides with federal changes in statute). The fourth change addresses eligibility for foster care for incapacitated youth for whom the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) becomes guardian, as SB 6 moved the APS guardianship program for incapacitated youth aging out of CPS conservatorship to DADS. Ms. Engelking stated that no comments were received as a result of the publication.
Judge Johnson moved that the Council recommend adoption by the HHSC new Section 700.316 and an amendment to Section 700.324, concerning foster care eligibility, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 7.a. Ms. Papadopoulos provided a second for that motion. No other discussion ensued, and the motion passed.
7b. Recommendation to adopt rule changes to 40 TAC § 700.2501 and §732.203* - Jeannie Coale
Ms. Coale updated the Council on these two rules first proposed in April and stated that 700.2501 provides greater flexibility for the Department to achieve the goals of outsourcing in SB 6 by allowing for a longer time frame for the initial and renewal periods of contracts; she also noted that 732.203 ties in to the CPS rule on allowing for-profit child-placing agencies to contract with the Department in accordance with federal law. Ms. Coale said these rules were published in the Texas Register on May 5, and no comments were received. She said it was recommended that the Council adopt these rules.
Mr. Castle moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the HHSC the amendments to Section 700.2501 and Section 732.203, concerning residential childcare providers and the time frame for contract periods, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 7.b. Judge Johnson seconded the motion, and there was no other discussion. The motion carried.
7c. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 705, §705.6101, Risk Assessment Criteria for Adult Protective Services* - Debra Wanser
Ms. Wanser stated that SB 6 requires that HHSC adopt rules to provide specific criteria for APS field staff to use when assessing risk during an investigation of alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation; she noted that the risk criteria cover five domains, including financial, social, medical, mental status and environmental. She said the proposed rules were published in the Texas Register in May and no comments were received. Ms. Wanser asked that the Council recommend that this new rule be adopted.
Ms. Papadopoulos moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the HHSC Section 705.6101, Adult Protective Services Risk Assessment criteria, as reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006 Agenda Item 7.c., and Dr. Furukawa seconded that motion. There was no other discussion, and the motion passed.
7d. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in Chapter 748, General Residential Operations and Residential Treatment Centers; Chapter 749, Child-Placing Agencies; 750, Independent Foster Homes, and; to repeal Chapter 720, 24-hour Care Licensing* - Diana Spiser
Diana Spiser, Assistant Commissioner for Child Care Licensing, presented this rule package for the revision of the minimum standards for residential child care. She noted that during this revision process the Agency received many comments from the public, and staff have carefully considered all of them. She said that based on comments received, 452 rules have been modified and 16 rules have been deleted. Ms. Spiser also discussed the staff’s serious consideration of the fiscal impact of these standards and that their conclusion is that the benefits of these changes in the minimum standards outweigh the cost factor.
Ms. Spiser remarked that Kerry Fortune was correct with his earlier comments today regarding differences between 40 TAC Chapters 748 and 749. She explained that what may appear to be discrepancies are based on the legal definitions of facility operations and child-placing agencies and foster homes as specified in Chapter 42, of the Human Resources Code. However, she noted that the staff considered very carefully comments about differences in the two chapters and that many changes and modifications were made as a result.
Ms. Spiser discussed the issue of drug-testing and said that while SB 6 does direct that rules requiring drug-testing of employees be written, it does not direct that drug-testing of foster parents be done, as foster parents are not considered employees of a child-placing agency. She also mentioned the issue of training and cited training differences between a facility and a foster home and how those were considered when the rules for Chapters 748 and 749 were written.
Ms. Spiser recommended that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that these rules be adopted with the changes indicated, to be effective January 1, 2007.
Mr. Castle brought up Ralph Gibbs’ comments made today regarding the definition of the word “discipline” and suggested that Ms. Spiser and her staff look carefully again at the intent of the rule and how the language could best express that. Ms. Spiser replied that staff will happily attempt to ensure that as these new standards are implemented, the language has the correct meaning and outcome that the rule is intended to achieve.
Ms. Robinson moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the HHSC the repeal of Chapter 720, 24-Hour Care Licensing, except for the rules as “listed,” the new Chapter 748, General Residential Operations and Residential Treatment Centers, the new Chapter 749, Child-Placement Agencies, and the new Chapter 750, Independent Foster Homes, as the new reflected in the Council's July 7, 2006, Agenda Item 7.d. A second to the motion was provided Dr. Furukawa. Mr. Castle reiterated Nancy Holman’s comments made earlier today and asked if the Council might want to recommend the HHSC look into the cost data utilized in the model of the fiscal impact of increases in the minimum standards and whether those data are up to date. Mr. Hoffman concurred with Mr. Castle. There was no additional discussion, and the motion carried.
Ms. Salazar-Harper expressed thanks to Ms. Spiser and her staff, noting that she and the Council have heard many compliments regarding CCL’s response to public comments during this rule revision process. Chairman Strauch echoed that sentiment and remarked how the process has been monumental and difficult and that the Council is very appreciative of staff’s availability to answer questions and clarify issues.
Following further general discussion, Ms. Papadopoulos moved that the Council recommend the HHSC look closely into the possibility of a rate increase for residential providers, based on the adoption of the new rule changes in Chapters 748, 749 and 750, and the resulting fiscal impact caused by these chapter changes. Ms. Salazar-Harper provided a second.
In response to Mr. Hoffman’s question regarding whether the motion included requesting HHSC to examine the cost data used in the minimum standards model, Ms. Papadopoulos replied she would accept such an amendment. There was no other discussion, and the motion passed with the amendment.
Agenda Item 8 - Adjourn*
Chairman Strauch adjourned the meeting at 10:44am.