Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Advisory Council Meeting

January 5, 2007,  9:00a.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, Imogen Papadopoulos, Paul Furukawa, Faith Johnson, Mamie Salazar-Harper, Linda Bell Robinson, and Richard S. Hoffman.  Also present were Commissioner Carey Cockerell and Department staff.

Agenda Item 1 – Call to Order

The meeting was called to order by Chair Ommy Strauch.  Chair Strauch welcomed everyone into the New Year and thanked everyone for being in attendance at the Council Meeting.

Agenda Item 2 – Reading, Correction and Approval of Minutes of October 6, 2006; Clarification of Minutes of July 7, 2006*

Chair Strauch stated that the first item of business is the reading, corrections and approval of the October minutes, and a clarification of a previous item from the July meeting. Chair Strauch stated that she would entertain the approval of these items as presented.

Vice Chair Papadopoulos moved for the adoption of the minutes as written, and Dr. Furukawa seconded. 

Agenda Item 3 – Public Testimony 

Chair Strauch stated that an online registration had been received from Ms. Tammy Hocker to provide public testimony; however, she is not present at this time.  Chair Strauch stated that Council will move on to the next item of business, and would yield the floor to Ms. Hocker for public testimony in the event she arrives.

Agenda Item 4. Agency Briefings
4.a – Commissioner’s Report 

Commissioner Cockerell began by reporting  several milestones in Adult Protective Services (APS).  The APS Caseload Reduction Management Report was completed and filed, and the APS Customer Service Satisfaction Survey results were finalized and released and will be utilized as a baseline for measuring our success in partnering with the community for adult client outcomes.  Also, APS has completed all 252 of its reform related items set forth a couple of years ago.   Commissioner Cockerell stated how very proud he is of the program’s achievements over the past few years. 

Commissioner Cockerell stated that several great things have happened recently with Child Protective Services (CPS). The US Department of Health and Human Services awarded DFPS 4.1 million dollars for our record number adoptions in 2005.  3,173 adoptions were consummated in 2005, and we expect to surpass that number for 2006.  The Commissioner pointed out that while we are very proud of this award (one of only eleven states to receive this recognition), many children are still waiting for permanent homes;  therefore, CPS supplemented National Adoption Month activities by kicking off its “What About Me?” campaign.  The campaign, which focuses on promoting adoptions,  began in November and will become a statewide campaign in April.  Also, CPS will receive almost 4 million dollars in federal funds to help our conservatorship workers.  This is part of promoting safe and stable families grant aimed at increasing monthly face-to-face contact with our clients.  The funding will be used for incentive pay, necessary overtime pay, temporary staffing, staff development and other categories that will assist staff in increasing client contact. 

We are pleased to announce that all DFPS staff that drive their vehicles while conducting state business are now covered by a secondary auto insurance coverage purchased by the state.  Employees are still required to carry personal liability auto insurance. This new benefit provides supplemental coverage in the event of an accident and should make it less expensive for employees to buy their insurance. 

DFPS is also partnering with the State Office of Risk Management and HHS Enterprise Risk Management to offer defensive driving training to all of our employees, which may be used to obtain discounts for personal automobile insurance.  Employees that drive the most miles will receive first priority; however, this benefit will be available to all DFPS staff.  In the past DFPS had no way to assist staff whose automobiles were damaged during the line of duty and we hope these measures will in some way provide relief to our workers. 

Over the last several months a Child Placing Agency (CPA) who had some difficulties with children in care (including injuries and unfortunately death) transitioned most of their foster homes to another CPA, where further difficulties were encountered.  DFPS put together a very robust monitoring and investigative procedure, and in December visited over 126 homes where face-to- face contact was made with these children    284 children were interviewed or observed.  Fifteen children have been removed as a result of this investigative effort and approximately 11 homes have been closed.  Because of this effort, we believe that children are safer.  Staff did a remarkable job in a short period of time.  As we move forward, we look at information gained  during this exercise and it will drive decision making for systemic improvements and practices.

The Legislative session starts January 9th, and pre-filing of bills began in mid November. To date, DFPS is tracking more than 60 bills.  Several key bills being monitored deal with licensing requirements for operating a child care facility and adding significantly to requirements for background checks conducted in daycare centers.  Other bills filed pertain to licensure exception for certain pre-school and after school programs; another creates an anti-bullying hotline to be maintained by DFPS; and a bill regarding cost of services to unlawful immigrants.  We also anticipate the filing of bills that provide some technical cleanup to Senate Bill 6, such as conflicting definitions, inconsistent terminology, and the like.  One has been filed that deletes case management from the Outsourcing initiative.

Several interim Committee reports have been filed and are available on the Texas Legislature website.  We are reviewing these to prepare for session and will provide information to Council as session progresses.  We have met with several key legislative offices to discuss matters facing the agency and the feedback we’ve received is that the agency is on the right course.  The Legislature will be revisiting reform during the upcoming session to determine if more needs to be done.

Lastly, DFPS will hold a statewide Director’s meeting in Austin on Friday, January 12, 2007. Regional and state office directors and management staff  will spend the day looking at initiative updates, conducting work sessions on pressing issues, and examining legislative issues that are coming forward.

Ms. Papadopoulos complimented the agency on the speed and effectiveness with which it responded to and handled the issue surrounding the transitioned CPA, and stated she is very proud of what the agency and staff did in a very difficult situation.

Chair Strauch echoed the congratulations, and also offered congratulations to APS for the completion of its 252 reform charges.

4.b. Chair’s Report - Ommy Strauch

Chair Strauch referred next to her report contained in Council’s folders. She  points out that staff was asked to follow-up on Ms. Irene Clements’ public commentary in October and Ms. Clements, in the audience today, confirms that her questions have been addressed.  

Chair Strauch stated that DFPS’ Transitional Advisory Committee for Outsourcing in Region 8, of which she is Co-Chair, continues to meet and gather useful information about how the  outsourced model would work.  The first meeting for the year will be held January 25, 2007, at which time the Committee will evaluate whether to put further information-gathering on hold until word is received from the Legislature about the future direction of Outsourcing.

Chair Strauch attended a meeting of the Advisory Council Chairs of all the HHSC Enterprise agencies.  The chairs meet periodically to discuss any common issues regarding their roles.  Executive Commissioner Hawkins attended to provide his insight about the Enterprise and the upcoming session.

Ms. Papadapoulos attended the Annual APS Conference in San Antonio, November 1 - 3. This was the largest APS conference to date with representatives from several states and foreign countries, and allowed for much learning and networking. 

Ms. Papadopoulos attended and addressed the meeting of representatives from APS Boards throughout the state on November 1.  The meeting's purpose was to further discuss the formation of a statewide APS Partnership organization. 

Dr. Furukawa also attended the Adult Protective Services Conference opening session and workshops on October 31 in San Antonio.  Dr. Furukawa attended the unveiling of The State of Texas Children 2006, Texas Kids Count Annual Data Book by Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) and CPPP briefing on "the Status of Health Care in Texas," San Antonio on November 17.
Dr. Furukawa also met with the Regional Directors of APS and CCL and toured the San Antonio regional offices and was very impressed (all Council members are welcome to meet their Regional Directors and visit local offices).  Dr. Furukawa continues to be active with the Judges Diversion initiative, with a lot of good information coming out of that group.

Ms. Salazar-Harper attended the DFPS Partners in Prevention conference November 14 in Round Rock and participated in a provider/client roundtable.  Ms. Harper also assisted APS Silver Star Board in local El Paso activities to provide holiday gifts to homebound clients.

Chair Strauch reported that Council Member Mr. John Castle is the Chair of the Parental Advisory Committee, which will meet on January 10. The committee addresses concerns of people who have had children in the system or issues with the system.

Chair Strauch pointed out that Council members have received a copy of the agenda from for the leadership meeting to be held January 12, 2007.  She stated that Council Members who would like to attend any topic of particular interest should let Dr. Milam know.

Upcoming Opportunities for Participation:

  • 1/20:  Mental Health Treatment for Foster Children Conference – Houston (contact Randy Joiner, CPS Regional Director)
  • 1/23-26:  Community Engagement Semi-Annual Training – Austin (contact Penelope Doherty, DFPS Community Engagement Lead)
  • Throughout the quarter:  APS Homeless/Mental Illness Campaign activities (contact APS Regional Directors for local activities schedule)

Agenda Item 5 - New Business
5. a. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC §§700.104-.114, 700.413: regarding deletion of rules duplicated in the DFPS records retention schedule * - Joyce James

Ms. James stated the primary purpose of this amendment would be to delete the rule and rule provisions that are duplicative of the official agency retention schedule for CPS records. The anticipated effects of the change are to improve public access to the retention schedule, eliminate any inconsistencies between the schedule and the rule, and simplify the Administrative subchapter of the CPS rules.   An earlier discussion prompted our General Counsel to do some additional research regarding ownership of videotapes;   he found that a statutory change had been made to clarify who owns the property of the record.   Appropriate changes have been made to the rule in §700.106, and section C is replaced to accurately reflect that other entities are responsible for the retention and the destruction of their own videotapes. Mr. Williams referred Council to the new highlighted sections in their packets, reflecting those changes. 

Chair Strauch asked Mr. Williams to confirm that in considering the motion, Council would be considering the revised rule.  Mr. Williams confirmed that was correct.

Ms. Johnson moved approval of the recommended rule changes, and Dr. Furukawa seconded the motion.  The motion passed without further discussion.

5. b. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, 700.505 Priorities for Reports of Abuse and Neglect * - Joyce James

Ms. James explained that within the current rule, CPS must initiate an investigation within 24 hours of receiving a Priority 1 report, and within ten days of receiving a Priority 2 report.  Subject to the availability of funds, the 79th Legislative session reduced the required time for Priority 2 reports from ten days to 72 hours, effective September 1, 2007.  Under the new rule, CPS responds within the 72-hour timeframe by initiating the investigation for Priority 2 reports involving victim children age 5 and under, and forwarding priority 2 reports involving children ages 6 years and older for review by specialized screeners.  The specialized staff will either screen out less serious cases of abuse and neglect if, after contacting professionals and credible resources, it is determined that the child is safe;   or they will forward it to an investigative unit, who have an additional 72 hours to initiate the investigation. The language will reflect that these investigators must initiate an investigation as soon as possible, but no later than 72 hours after the investigative unit’s receipt of the priority 2 report.

Ms. James asked that the Council consider changes to the rule in order to implement legislation passed in the 79th Legislature for investigations given a priority 2, and that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and to Executive Commissioner Hawkins that these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Registry for formal of public comment.

Mr. Hoffman moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the Health and Human Services Commission the repeal of and new §700.505, concerning priorities for reports of abuse and neglect, as reflected in the Council’s January 5, 2007 Agenda Item 5.b., and Ms. Johnson seconded the motion. 

Ms. Papadopoulos clarified that Council is voting on the revised rule presented this morning.  The motion was passed without any further discussion.

Agenda Item 6 – Old Business
6.a. Recommendation to adopt rule changes regarding Family-Based Safety Services and Family Reunification Services*- Joyce James

Ms. James stated no public comments were received regarding this rule and asked that Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that these rules be adopted without changes to be effective March 1, 2007.

General Counsel Gerry Williams corrected the date on Agenda Items 6.a. and 6.b. of the proposed rules presented to the Council for recommendation to publish to read October 6, 2007, as opposed to October 6, 2006.  He stated the information was correct in the published version.

Dr. Furukawa moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Services Commission the amendments, repeals, and new rules concerning family-based safety services and family reunification services, as reflected in the Council’s January 5, 2007 Agenda Item 6.a, Ms. Robinson seconded that motion. 

Ms. Johnson questioned the word “restricted” on page 4 of the rule in the Council packet, asking for examples of what services were being prevented with the current rule.   Ms. James responded that previously, certain types of Family-Based Safety Services cases could be kept open for 90 days, and regular cases for no longer than 60 days.  The change allows the agency to look at whether the family needs additional services based on risk factor, rather than length of time.

Ms. Papadopoulos asked whether there would be any impact on this rule (if adopted) if the Legislature changes direction on the Outsourcing model or presents some other service delivery.

Ms. James responded that the rule distinguishes between providing Family-Based Safety Services prior to the children being removed from families children in their own home, and services after the child has been removed from the home and the family is receiving reunification services. There is not a current distinction between those two types of in-home services.  The presence of Outsourcing will not impact this rule.

There was no further discussion, and the motion passed.

6.b. Recommendation to adopt the repeal of 40 TAC, §700.1341, Requesting Termination of Parental Rights* - Joyce James

Ms. James stated that direction contained in federal and state legislation regarding termination of parental rights makes the guidance in this rule no longer necessary.

Ms. Papadopoulos moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Services Commission the repeal of §700.1341, concerning termination of parental rights as reflected in the Council's January 5, 2007 Agenda Item 6.b, and Ms. Johnson seconded the motion.  There was no further discussion, and the motion passed.

Agenda Item 8 - Adjourn*
Chair Strauch adjourned the meeting at 9:53 a.m.