Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Advisory Council Meeting

January 15, 2010

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Advisory Council met in Public Hearing Room 125-E of the John H. Winters Building, 701 West 51st Street, Austin, Texas.  Council Members present were Chair Ommy Strauch, Vice Chair Imogen Papadopoulos, Gigi Edwards Bryant, Debbie Epperson, Tina Martin, Linda Bell Robinson, and Scott Rosenbach.

Also present was Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein and department staff.

Not present was Council members, Paul Furukawa and Mamie Salazar-Harper.

Agenda Item 1 – Call to Order

The meeting was called to order by Chair Ommy Strauch at 9:01 a.m. 

Agenda Item 2 - Reading, Correction. and Approval of Minutes of October 23, 2009 regular meeting

Ms. Papadopoulos moved approval of the minutes as printed; Ms. Bryant provided a second.  The minutes needed no corrections and were approved as distributed. 

Agenda Item 3 – Approval of New Date for April 2010 Council Meeting

Ms. Strauch asked the Council to consider changing dates from April 15 and 16 to April 19 for the April Work Session and April 20 for the Council Meeting.  Ms. Epperson moved such; Ms. Martin provided a second.  The motion carried without opposition; the Council will meet April 19 and April 20.

Agenda Item 4 - Public Testimony

No public testimony was offered at this council meeting.

Agenda Item 5  - Agency Briefings

5.a. Disproportionality and The Texas Story Event –  Joyce James and Dr. Donn Bauman

Joyce James, Deputy Commissioner for DFPS, joined by Dr. Donn Baumann, presented the work on disproportionality in Texas.  Disproportionality is the overrepresentation of a particular race or culture in a particular program or system.  Disproportionality and disparate outcomes for African-American children and families is also an issue for the juvenile justice system, education, healthcare, and other systems.  African-American children did not enter foster care in the United States until the late '50s or early '60s; however, they represented almost half of children in care by the early '80s. 

The Center for Policy and Innovation (CPI) is researching the historical entry of African-American children into the Texas foster care system.  Council member, Gigi Edwards Bryant believes she and her siblings may have been among the first African-American children to enter the foster care system in Texas.  Deputy Commissioner James has invited Ms. Bryant to assist CPI in researching this history.

Almost 37 percent of the 500,000 children in foster care in the nation's child welfare system are African-American; yet, they represent only 15 percent of the child population in the United States.  In Texas, African-American children represent 33 percent of the children in foster care but only 12 percent of the total child population.  As a point of reference, Anglo children represent 38 percent of the Texas child population, and 27 percent of the children in Texas foster care.  Hispanic children represent 46.6 percent of the Texas child population, and 36.5 percent of the children in Texas foster care.  These statistics portray disproportionality; the percentage of African-American children in foster care is higher than the percentage of African-American children in the general population. 

National child abuse and neglect incident studies confirm that African-Americans do not abuse their children at a greater rate than other races.  This finding has caused agencies across the country to pose the question, "why does disparity exist in the foster care system?" 

Ms. James stated that when she talks about the Texas Story, she is generally talking about her own personal journey in working on this issue.  Her efforts to address disproportionality started at the regional level in Jefferson County where she served as a CPS Program Administrator and later as a CPS Regional Director.  Ms. James worked in the field of child welfare for approximately 16 years before she started asking questions about this issue.  She began looking at data regarding race and ethnicity in her region in 1996; this data was the vehicle for opening conversation around the issue.  Data showed that in one county, African-American children made up 30 percent of the child population yet represented 77 percent of the children in foster care.

CPS partnered with a university to research contributing factors to disproportionality and the following contributing factors were identified:  poverty, substance abuse, lack of education and job skills, lack of community resources, feelings of hopelessness, and possible worker bias due to lack of cultural competency.  Disproportionality was not, and is not, a problem that CPS owned by itself.  It is an issue in which other systems, including the community, must be engaged.  Often times in Jefferson County, families did not receive supports that they needed in the community before coming to the attention of CPS.  Research supported that disproportionality needed to be addressed in a systemic way to improve outcomes.  In order to impact the issues bringing Jefferson County African-American children into the system, changes had to be made regarding how services were provided. 

The Chief of Juvenile Probation in Jefferson County, the school director and other community partners also collaborated with CPS to study disproportionality.  The juvenile probation system reported similar data, showing that 69 percent of the children involved in juvenile probation and 88 percent of the children who had been identified as at-risk in communities and schools were African-American.  A community meeting, the first of many, was held to develop a unified vision, mission and goals for addressing disproportionality. 

The resulting community engagement model in Jefferson County, specifically located in Port Arthur, was named "Project HOPE, Helping Our People Excel".  Project HOPE, located in a community that was fairly well blighted, without resources or services, such that people had to travel long distances for services, was an area where a lot of removals occurred.  Project HOPE coordinated resources, set up shop, and brought services into the community, making them easily accessible to families.  Ms. James is very proud of the work that was started and continues under regional leadership and with support from State Office.  Disproportionality has decreased in Jefferson County.

Ms. James took her passion for this issue with her to State Office when she became Assistant Commissioner of CPS in April 2004.  Her first month as Assistant Commissioner, she asked staff to pull data at the state level by race and ethnicity, and confirmed that disproportionality exists for African-American children and families across the state.  The data showed where the gaps and the barriers were in the system.  In her second month on the job, she contacted Carolyne Rodriguez with Casey Family Programs.  Casey Family Programs was already working with CPS on transitional living programs and pilots for kinship, and Ms. Rodriguez agreed with the suggestion to add the issue of disproportionality.  The model used in Jefferson County continues to be used and improved upon at the state level.

During her third month as Assistant Commissioner, Governor Perry issued the executive order for review and reform of the Texas CPS system.  After review by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), CPS had about 164 recommendations.  One such recommendation was to assess disproportionality of African-American children in the Texas CPS system.  Thus the disproportionality work already begun by CPS was timely to the OIG's recommendations. 

In 2005, the Texas Legislature mandated an analysis of the statewide child welfare data to determine if disproportionality in fact existed in the Texas child welfare system, after factoring out issues such as poverty and family structure; namely single-parent households.  If disproportionality was still found, the Legislature would mandate that CPS develop a remediation plan, and this is what happened.  The analysis determined that African-American children were removed from their homes at twice the rate of Anglo or Hispanic children.  African-American children remained in the foster care system at almost three times the rate of the general population.  They were reunified less often, waited longer, and were adopted less often than their Anglo counterparts.  Additionally, at the time of the 2005 study, African-American families were also less likely to receive family-based safety services.  Data showed that differential treatment towards certain groups of children and families was occurring in the system, and although research has shown that African-American children are no more likely to be abused or neglected than white children, African-American families were still more likely to be reported to state authorities. 

Remediation efforts were directed towards CPS leadership development.  To affect true systemic change, leadership would have to acquire new skills, take them to the staff, and support the system in the change process.  With the support of the Texas Legislature, CPS created a state level disproportionality manager and a disproportionality specialist to target areas with the greatest disparity and form community disproportionality boards.  These boards have since been expanded to all 11 regions of the state.   Each region also now has its own disproportionality specialist.  By using Project HOPE as a best practice model, CPS has brought together stakeholders including, youth, parents and other systems.  CPS has openly shared data and worked as true partners to come up with solutions to remove barriers to services that had been preventing positive outcomes for certain families and children.

Identifying best practice, embracing the family-focused approach, training to improve cultural competency, and studying data has resulted in significant progress.  Training has included the Undoing Racism and Casey's Knowing Who You Are modules.  Over 3,000 DFPS staff have been trained in Undoing Racism.  Over 4,000 staff have participated in the Knowing Who You Are module that DFPS will continue to provide for staff.  The true measure of any organization is its ability to leave the families and children in a better place than where they were found.  The system is not as good as it could be for a child of any race; however, we believe that by raising the bar for those who are least likely to achieve positive outcomes, the bar will be raised for all children and families, making the system better for all of those whom it serves. 

In August of 2009, an event was held called the Texas Story.  Ms. James expressed her thanks to Ms. Bryant for telling her personal story at this event which hosted professionals from other states, judges, and partners from the Administration for Children and Families and various other systems.  Planning for this event started when two states asked CPS to share knowledge, and it grew to include presentations from some of our partners.  Response from the Texas Story was favorable; one participant was quoted "every child welfare system in the country needs to hear the story about the work done in Texas on this critical issue". 

Dr. Baumann reported on four questions asked during the research phase: what are the perceptions of CPS in the communities in which we operate; are racial and ethnic groups disproportionately represented in CPS, taking other factors into account; can the process be changed; and can we explain something about the factors involved in disproportionality?  University partners conducted nineteen focus groups in the two largest regions and received information into three categories: agency contributions; community contributions; and shared contributions between the agency and the community. 

Agency contributions included agency climate, differential response to African-American families, ineffective interventions, and workforce issues.  Community contributions included breakdown of community, environmental issues, and barriers to obtaining resources.  Shared contributions included the lack of cultural sensitivity and barriers to the use of kinship care, and a lack of engagement between DFPS and the community.

Findings from the report that Ms. James discussed indicated African-American children were disproportionately represented in our system, even when other factors were taken into account.  In addition, African-American and Hispanic children left foster care slower than Anglo children.  The question was then asked, "Can the removal process be changed?"  To compare disproportionality over a five year span, 2005 to 2008, a chart was constructed with an index of disproportionality.  Numbers higher than one amount equal greater disproportionality; numbers less than one amount equal less disproportionality.  The chart showed that when the work began, African-American children were 1.4 times more likely to be removed than were Anglo children; Hispanics less so; Native American children were 1.6 times more likely to be removed (note: numbers for Native American children are small and inconsistent).  By 2008, the numbers had dropped to about 1.2 times more likely to be removed for African-American children. 

Charted results indicated the numbers dropped in four of the five counties where disproportionality existed, so the conclusion can be reached that change has been effected in disproportionate numbers of African-American children who are removed to care.  However, change is incomplete, in that the numbers have not been reduced to the same level as Anglo child removals and placements into care.  Since fewer children were being removed, we needed to determine whether children remained safe.  During the same period, 2005 to 2008, the African-American children's rates of repeat maltreatment during a six-month period were lower than that of Anglo children.  We are now studying data on repeat maltreatment at a case level and over longer periods of time. 

Caseworkers were surveyed, and this survey data was tied to the case load data and actual decisions that workers made.  The relationship between case factors, race, and poverty can be difficult for caseworkers to understand.  This phenomenon, called the fundamental attribution error, means that people tend to think that situations in people's lives are not as powerful as they really are and attribute cause to people themselves.  Dr. Baumann states that all people are prone to making this error, not just caseworkers.  For example, when poverty, a situational factor, is in play, people tend to think the effect of poverty is less powerful in people's lives than it actually is.  When workers think they have less interpersonal skills, they tend to have greater disparities in removals as well.  Thus, when caseworkers feel they are not culturally competent, they tend to remove more African-American children. 

Having more African-American or Hispanic families on a caseload is associated with fewer disparate removals.  Exposure to other cultures lessens disparate removals. It is also important to note research findings that indicate more removals are likely to occur in communities that have less than adequate resources.  A caseworker is more inclined to remove a child if the caseworker believes that services necessary to ensure the child's safety are not available in the community.    
The family group decision-making conferences have improved the overall rates for reunification and exits to kinship placements, respectively, and decreased the disproportionate rates for both types of exits

Ms. Strauch thanked Dr. Baumann for his report, and then asked Ms. Bryant to make a few comments.

Ms. Bryant attended the Texas Story event as a guest speaker.  She has participated in the Undoing Racism training and would recommend the training for others who have the opportunity to participate.  According to Ms. Bryant, the primary concern to CPS is protection of children.  Disproportionality training benefits children and families and staff, and the training should be embraced.

Ms. Epperson thanked Ms. James for her passion for this issue; noting the importance of the disproportionality work. 

Dr. Robinson commented on cultural differences between caseworkers and families, and asked about cultural sensitivity training.   Ms. James replied that CPS has incorporated Knowing Who You Are into the Basic Skills Development (BSD) course.  Knowing Who You Are is a racial and ethnic identity formation training that addresses cultural competency. Leadership has committed to providing this training to managers as well. 

A plan to make cultural competency training accessible to all DFPS employees is under development and will be presented to Commissioner Heiligenstein and the executive team.  Additionally, each region has a disproportionality specialist, and CPS Regional Directors are grounded in this work.  Regional staff are involved in talk-backs, think-tanks, and liberated zones to encourage continued work on the issue of cultural competency.

Ms. Strauch thanked Dr. Baumann for his presentation, and Ms. James for her commitment to the issue.  She then thanked Carolyne Rodriguez and Casey for their continued support of so many of the important issues the department is addressing; stating it is impossible for the Council and the public to know about all of the incredible work taking place.  We tend to read the spectacular and the extraordinary; however, much of the work taking place is systemic.  Ms. Strauch is proud to hear about the department's efforts to understand and end disproportionality. 

5.b. Tablet PC Demonstration Videos - Michele Carter, IT Project Manager

Ms. Carter demonstrated how to use a tablet PC, using her own tablet which is her sole automation device.  She takes her tablet everywhere, on the road and to meetings, and she utilizes it to give presentations, take notes, and to work remotely.  Ms. Carter played a three minute video showing how caseworkers are being trained to use their tablets before, during and after their visits with families. 

Commissioner Heiligenstein thanked Ms. Carter, Terri Ware, and everyone involved in creating this video.  Tablet PCs are a significant investment in electronic tools by the Legislature that occurred as part of Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services reform.  Mobile use of the tablets is a very efficient way to work, enabling caseworkers to maximize the amount of time they have for face-to-face contact with families.

Ms. Papadopoulos asked whether the battery could be charged while driving, and Ms. Carter responded in the affirmative.  Dr. Robinson asked if the tablet also has a GPS tracker to compute shortest distance between travel points.  The tablet has Streets and Trips mapping software which allows users to determine the shortest route.

Ms. Epperson asked if caseworkers are visiting more clients per day now that they have tablets.  Ms. Carter replied that the research had not been done yet; however, the department has recently implemented the latest mobile protective services software, the application used when caseworkers are out in the field.  After this application is deployed in March, the department will be able to run and utilize MPS reports. 

Mr. Rosenbach asked what percentage of staff has a tablet PC and is using the tablet PCs in the field.  Ms. Carter replied that when a caseworker receives a tablet, it becomes their only automation device.  With regards to using the tablets during home visits, we have found that staff still struggle with using the tablets in a mobile environment.  In response, training will provide more time for practice.  Scripted practice scenarios have been developed for this reason.    

Commissioner Heiligenstein stated how much easier it is for staff who are hired and trained to use the tools, rather than training someone who is accustomed to working in a different environment.  More sophisticated technologies allow greater efficiency opportunities.  Commissioner also mentioned state-issued cell phones are replacing standard business phones to further increase staff mobility.  Ms. Strauch thanked Ms. Carter and stated that she looks forward to updates.

5.c. Commissioner's Report to include:  Caseload Forecasts, Program Realignment, Foster Care Redesign, Notification of Rule Adoptions, and Other Major Initiatives - Anne Heiligenstein

Commissioner Heiligenstein reported an increase in case load this past year, particularly as of last fall.  Traditionally, as the economy weakens, families' needs for services become greater.  Additionally, there were several very tragic, and highly publicized, child deaths in cases where CPS had prior contact with someone in the household.  Tragic child deaths and increased service needs will always have an effect on staff in terms of second-guessing decisions made and assessing manageable risk and can result in a higher number of removals.    

Of due concern is the family-based safety services program, which is the program to help children remain in their own homes, avoiding the trauma of removal and placement in foster care.  The department has taken steps to infuse resources into this program due to our belief that children grow best when safe within their own families.  One action taken was to realign staff; this past fall, we filled positions appropriated by the Legislature and ensured that staff was appropriately placed in the types of jobs and geographic areas where they were most needed. 

There is an appropriation cap on the number of jobs the department can have on the payroll, and although we were within the cap, some of the jobs were not located where the greatest workloads were, or in the stages of service, or types of jobs that were needed in order to keep children safe.  Staff had to be adjusted through the program realignment. 

584 staff were management transferred within CPS.  They experienced no loss in pay and their new positions are within 30 miles of their previous office locations. Approximately 176 staff were paraprofessional or clerical support staff who could not be placed within DFPS.  These staff members have have been placed at the Health and Human Services Commission.  Approximately 880 staff have been affected by this realignment; no one was left without a job, and no one was asked to take a decrease in salary.  Some staff were required to move to a different headquarter site, but in no case did that site ever exceed 30 miles from their existing headquarter site, in order to ensure a commutable distance.

Commissioner Heiligenstein is very, very proud of DFPS staff.  When something like the program realignment happens, the change can be disruptive and painful for staff members.  DFPS staff are very good at what they do, and when they are told they will be given a different assignment, and it is not an assignment of choice, it is very hard on them.  However they have understood the need to have our resources maximized in family based safety service caseworkers.

The rule-making process has been instrumental in implementing Fostering Connections.  This time next year, CPS will have the ability to financially support children who are placed with relatives.  For those children who the courts decide cannot go home to their parents safely, for whom adoption is not the best solution, CPS will work with parents to find relatives who are willing and able to protect and care for the child, allowing the child to grow up with family.

The disproportionality work presented earlier is an important and effective tool.  CPS will soon be able to provide monetary support to families who do not have the financial wherewithal to care for additional children in their home, but who are able to provide nurturing, loving care for an additional child.  Commissioner Heiligenstein is very excited about this Fostering Connections initiative as it is a landmark step in terms of improving and accelerating the work to end disproportionality in Texas.

The department continues to strengthen the training programs for staff.   A tremendous infusion of additional staff, literally thousands, has resulted in a green, or not completely matured, workforce who will continue to improve with training and experience.  The department, specifically CPS and the Center for Learning and Organizational Excellence (CLOE), are working with the National Resource Center, which provides technical support.  It is most important that first-line unit supervisors have the competency skills needed to guide, support, nurture, and develop the caseworkers reporting to them.  The department staffed up so quickly that many supervisors do not have much tenure themselves; the department needs to be sure those supervisors have been given the tools necessary to support good decision-making. 

DFPS has undertaken a major new project to redesign foster care.  When we talked with children, particularly the teenagers in foster care, to learn what we do well and what we do wrong, they are very clear about what we have done wrong: we have taken them very far from their homes, separated them from their siblings, disrupted their care and/or moved them to a new foster placement too often.

We must work to ensure the foster care system is meeting our children's needs when they can not be kept safe in their own homes.  We must strive to keep these children close to home where they can remain connected to their family, school, and friends; place them with siblings as often as possible; and be sure they have a continuum of care.  We have got to recognize a procurement, contract, and reimbursement structure that reflects and gives us the wherewithal to be able to deliver this kind of system.

Ms. James and CPS Assistant Commissioner Audrey Deckinga are working with national experts to design options/proposals for the foster care redesign.   Joyce James is the Co-Chair for the Public/Private Partnership (PPP) which brings together the agency, providers, and judges, one retired and three active. The PPP will be making recommendations to the Commissioner regarding the foster care redesign. This will be done hand-in-hand with other stakeholders, including other providers and entities, judges, and CASA volunteers.  The department will continue to keep the Council and legislative decision-makers apprised of progress for the foster care redesign.

In preparation for the next legislative session, HHSC agencies are entering into the strategic planning process where we plan for the direction of the agency over the next several years.  This process requires the department to ask such questions as: What are risks and the challenges that we face as an agency? What is on the horizon for the issues we will need to deal with in the future? And the agency will have to prepare for the Legislative Appropriation Request for next session.  The Council's input and the public's input are both very important to the strategic planning process, and the Council's help and support is most appreciated. 

Another issue the department is addressing is the very large number of deaths of infants due to incorrect positional sleeping.  Last year alone, CPS investigated 166 infant deaths that occurred while the infants were sleeping with adults or other children.  Regrettably, poverty is often the reason that people share their beds with infants; or they share their beds because it seems loving and nurturing to sleep with your infant, but in fact, it can be very dangerous.  DFPS and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), have started the Room to Breathe campaign.  Intent of Room to Breathe is to get word out to the public that it is dangerous for babies to sleep on couches or to sleep in cribs with lots of padding and blankets.  Professionals advised "dress the baby; not the bed" because an infant's breathing system is not yet well-developed, and the extra pillows, blankets, etc. can create quite a risk.  DFPS and DSHS are working together, as a protection agency and a health agency, to give parents information on how to be sure their baby sleeps safe and to avoid some of these tragic deaths.

DFPS is also working on the Why Not Me? adoption campaign.  This campaign reminds the public that 6,000 children are waiting to be adopted; it asks families, couples and single adults to ask themselves, "why not me?"  Some terrific strides have been made over the past few years in terms of the numbers of children being adopted; the number has increased 43 percent, but Texas still needs families for waiting children. 

Ms. Papadopoulos asked whether the increased number of intakes and case loads has affected APS as well as CPS.  APS Assistant Commissioner, Beth Engelking, stated that APS is also experiencing an increase in intakes and caseloads.    

Ms. Papadopoulos asked the department to continue monitoring intake and case loads, citing the age of the baby-boomer generation and stating that the department must be prepared for the upsurge.  Commissioner Heiligenstein responded that the same demographic boom that went through the public school system in the 1950s will put stress on the systems that care for seniors.  It is going to be an extraordinary problem, not just for Texas but for the entire country.

5.d. Chair's Report - Ommy Strauch

Ms. Strauch noted the incredible amount of work that goes into preparing for the presentations, updates, and ongoing work of the Council meetings and work sessions.  Some issues garner a lot of attention, and work on other issues quietly goes on; we would not be able to hear about all of the department's initiatives if this were not the case.

Ms. Strauch is pleased that the two newest Council members have attended a child welfare board meeting and other activities in their respective areas.  This involvement has given them a better understanding of the work going on locally.  Ms. Strauch is serving as a member of the Public/Private Partnership and looks forward to the work the partnership is doing.   She and Dr. Furukawa attended the monthly adoption ceremony in San Antonio, where over 100 children were being adopted, with about 500 people in attendance.  Justice O'Neill officiated and gave words of encouragement.  Ms. Strauch encouraged the other Council members to try to attend an adoption ceremony in their areas as it is heart-warming.

Ms. Papadopoulos is being recognized by the Houston Jewish Community Center.  She is the honoree for a particular event at which she and her work in the community will be recognized. Specifically, she is being recognized for her involvement with children and seniors.  We commend her.

Ms. Strauch is working with the department on making the Council liaison assignments; several Council members who have asked to keep their current responsibilities will do so.  Ms. Bryant will continue working with the Disproportionality Advisory Task Force.   Ms. Papadopoulos will remain with APS, and Ms. Martin will work with Child Care Licensing.  We will continue to make assignments for the remaining Council members. 

6. New Business

6.a. Recommendation to propose rule changes to 40 TAC, Chapter 711, Investigations in DADS Mental Retardation and DSHS Mental Health Facilities and Related Programs - Beth Engelking, APS

Ms. Engelking introduced Kez Wold, the new APS Director of Field as of January 1.  Coming from Region 7 as the Regional Director, he brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm.

Ms. Engelking requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Heiligenstein and Executive Commissioner Suehs that the rules be published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.

Ms. Papadopoulos moved that Council recommend for proposal by the Health and Human Services Commission the amendments and new section in Chapter 711 concerning investigation in DADS Mental Retardation and DSHS Mental Health Facilities and related programs, as reflected in the Council's January 15, 2010 agenda item 6.a.  Dr. Robinson seconded.  The motion passed.

6.b. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Strengthening Families Through Enhanced In-Home Support Program - Audrey Deckinga, CPS

Ms. Deckinga recognized Pastor Hendricks, Travis County Chair of the Disproportionality Advisory Task Force, and thanked him for all his work in Travis Country and Region 7.

Ms. Deckinga requested the Council approve the proposed rule action in regard to the Strengthening Families through Enhanced In-Home Support Program, which had been discussed at length during the previous day's work session.

Ms. Epperson moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the Health and Human Services Commission the amendments, repeal, and new sections concerning Strengthening Families Through Enhanced In-Home Support Program, as reflected in the Council's January 15, 2010 agenda item 6.b.  Mr. Rosenbach seconded.  The motion passed.

6.c. Recommendation to repeal rules in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, relating to permanency planning for foster children - Audrey Deckinga, CPS

Ms. Deckinga requested the Council consider the proposed rule action, as discussed in the work session, and that the Council recommend repeal of the rules regarding permanency planning that are currently in TAC.

Ms. Bryant moved the Council recommend the proposal by the Health and Human Services Commission for the repeal of 700.1203 and 700.1207 concerning permanency planning for foster children, as reflected in the Council's January 15, 2010, agenda item 6.c.  Ms. Martin seconded.  The motion passed.

6.d. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, 745 Licensing, to support and implement Senate Bill 68 - Sasha Rasco, CCL

CCL Assistant Commissioner Sasha Rasco expressed appreciation for Senator Nelson and her staff in their work in passing Senate Bill 68, the impetus for the rule packet.  It is a complex bill that carried much needed clarification and added authority for the Department.  In the Council's packet is implementation information of the most significant pieces of that bill related to exemptions, background checks, and the change in time period for denial from two to five years after revocation of a license. 

Ms. Rasco requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Heiligenstein and Executive Commission Suehs that these rules and the revision to 745.139, as previously discussed in the work session, be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.

Dr. Robinson moved the Council recommend for proposal by the Health and Human Service Commission the amendments, repeals, and new sections concerning licensing rules to support and implement Senate Bill 68, as reflected in the Council's January 15, 2010 agenda item 6.d., and revision to 745.139.  Mr. Rosenbach seconded.  The motion passed.

Ms. Strauch thanked everyone who made presentations at the work session.  Having such comprehensive presentations of issues during the work sessions combined with the opportunity for the Council to ask and have their questions answered by staff makes for much more effective Council meetings.      

Agenda Item 7 - Old Business

7.a. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 702, Section 702.425 regarding CPS youth in TYC placements or under TYC supervised release or parole - Audrey Deckinga, CPS

Ms. Deckinga requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Heiligenstein and Executive Commissioner Suehs the adoption of the rules in reference to the MOU between DFPS and TYC.

Ms. Epperson moved the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Service Commission new 702.425, concerning CPS youth and TYC placements or under TYC supervised release or parole, as reflected in the Council's January 15, 2010 agenda item 7.a.  Ms. Martin seconded.  The motion passed.

7.b. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 746, Licensed Child-Care Centers and Chapter 747, Registered and Licensed Child-Care Homes to implement legislative changes regarding gang-free zones, transportation training, and unsafe child products - Sasha Rasco, CCL

Ms. Rasco reminded the Council and the public that Child Care Licensing is not proposing adoption of any rules related to booster seats in vehicles at this time. Ms. Rasco requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Heiligenstein and Executive Commissioner Suehs that these rules be adopted related to the implementation of House Bill 2086, Senate Bill 572, and Senate Bill 95 in child daycare centers.

Mr. Rosenbach moved the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Service Commission licensing amendments and new sections concerning changes in Child-Care Centers and Child-Care Homes to implement legislation, as reflected in the Council's January 15, 2010 agenda item 7.b.  Ms. Bryant seconded.  The motion passed.

7.c. Recommendation to adopt rule changes to 40 TAC, Chapter 745, Licensing, Chapter 748, General Residential Operations and Residential Treatment Centers, and Chapter 749, Child-Placing Agencies relating to legislative changes regarding posting a revocation or denial on the DFPS website, and transportation training - Sasha Rasco, CCL

Ms. Rasco reported this rule packet implements House Bill 1012 related to the exemptions of those conducting court-ordered social studies; Senate Bill 61, Section 2 related to definition of general residential operations; Senate Bill 68, Section 17 related to posting a revocation, denial, or suspension notice on our website; and Senate Bill 572, related to transportation safety.  She requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Heiligenstein and Executive Commissioner Suehs that these rules be adopted.

Dr. Robinson moved the Council recommend for adoption by the Health and Human Services Commission the residential child care amendments concerning changes in general residential operations, residential treatment centers, and child-placing agencies to implement legislation, as reflected in the Council's January 15, 2010 agenda item 7.c.  Ms. Martin seconded.  Ms. Papadopoulos inquired whether the rules relating to safety restraints had also been withdrawn from this proposal.  Ms. Rasco confirmed. Without further discussion, the motion passed.

As follow-up to the rule making process from the October Council Meeting, Commissioner Heiligenstein stated that of the seven rule packets for consideration, three had no public comment and have been submitted to Executive Commissioner Suehs with recommendation to adopt them.  One packet related to extending foster care benefits and transitional living services, a part of Fostering Connections.  Another packet related to the Permanency Care Assistance Program; again part of Fostering Connections, which will ensure that we have the rules in place to implement by September 1, 2010, our ability to have children in paid guardianship care with relatives as their permanency plan.  The third packet recommended for adoption related to the Fostering Connections Act and adoption assistance, including our ability to extend adoption assistance benefits.

The recommendation to proposed rules regarding release of certain information related to child fatalities is being prepared for submission to HHHC.  Legislation passed last session, Senate Bill 1050, which requires us to provide information on a routine basis to the public regarding fatalities of children being investigated. No comments were received on this rule packet either.

APS intake data requested by Ms. Papadopoulos earlier in the meeting will be emailed to the Council members.

Agenda Item 8 - Adjourn

Ms. Strauch adjourned the meeting at 10:30 a.m.