Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
October 21, 2011
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Council met October 21, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in the John H. Winters Building, Room, 125-E, 701 West 51st Street, Austin, Texas. Members present were Chair Gigi Edwards Bryant, Vice Chair Imogen Papadopoulos, Patricia Cole, Debbie Epperson, Anna Maria Jimenez, Tina Martin, Benny Morris, Linda Bell Robinson, and Scott Rosenbach. Also present were Interim Commissioner Howard Baldwin, General Counsel Gerry Williams, and agency staff.
Agenda Item 1 Call to Order
Chair Gigi Edwards Bryant called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. A quorum was present. Ms. Bryant welcomed Interim Commissioner Baldwin and new council members.
Agenda Item 2 - Reading, Correction, and Approval of Minutes of June 10, 2011 special meeting
Chair Bryant called for approval of minutes of the June 10, 2011, special meeting. Ms. Papadopoulos moved to accept the minutes as written; Mr. Rosenbach seconded. The minutes needed no corrections and were approved as presented.
Agenda Item 3 - Agency Briefings
3.a. Center for Disproportionality and Disparities – Joyce James, HHSC
Chair Bryant welcomed Joyce James of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), who presented an update on the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities. The center was created by HHSC Executive Commissioner Suehs in September 2010. Its mission is to partner with HHS agencies and other external stakeholders to identify and eliminate disproportionality and disparities for vulnerable populations served by HHSC and other agencies. Ms. James defined the term disproportionality as overrepresentation of a group or race in a system as compared to their representation in the general population. Disproportionality and disparities exist in all systems serving vulnerable populations and generally the same populations of people are impacted.
Legislative authority for the center began with Senate Bill (SB) 6, which was specific to DFPS and Child Protective Services (CPS). The legislation directed DFPS to address the overrepresentation of African American and Native American children in the foster care system. While the work of the center has not eliminated disproportionality, significant changes have resulted in a reduction in the number of children in foster care and a rise in kinship placements and adoptions. In addition, cultural competency has increased among DFPS staff. The DFPS model will be applied to other systems. The center will reach out to communities and invite them into the conversation so they may help develop strategies to address disproportionality and disparities. Community advisory committees have been established in each region of the state; the committees consist of cross-systems leaders, including constituents, parents, youth, and kinship providers.
SB 758 further expanded the efforts to eliminate disproportionality. Recent SB 501 created the center in statute and also an interagency council which brings together involved systems including the Texas Education Agency, Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, Youth Commission, Office of the Attorney General, the Supreme Court Judicial Commission, Office of Court Administration, all Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, and medical experts and members of the faith-based community.
The Center also addresses health disparities in Texas and how they impact children and families. African Americans and Latinos die from the leading causes of death in the state. Teenage African American males are represented at four times the state rate of new HIV cases. What happens in one system impacts the families in various other systems. There have been meetings and trainings with other agencies and the goal is positive outcomes.
Ms. James offered to answer questions. Chair Bryant asked for questions and comments. Ms Papadopoulos offered congratulations on the progress the center has made.
3.b. Knowing Who You Are, Expanding the Work Beyond CPS – Colleen McCall, CPS
Chair Bryant called on Colleen McCall, Director of CPS Field Operations. CPS has begun providing cultural competency training for all CPS staff who interact with children and families. In 2005 Casey Family Programs developed the training, Knowing Who You Are (KWYA), for staff and foster parents. Knowing Who You Are is a two-and-a-half day training. It became part of the Basic Skills Development training for conservatorship staff in 2005. In 2010 an adapted version was required for all new CPS workers, including the one-day training for supervisors. The training has been expanded beyond CPS. Casey Family Programs has a model for training trainers. Four of the six nationally certified coaches are in Texas and others are being trained as facilitators. Within two years, KWYA trainers will be available to all CPS staff.
Ms. McCall asked for questions. Chair Bryant asked if CPS and the center were working together on the KWYA training for additional staff. Ms. McCall said that a plan has not been finalized for conducting the training at other agencies; more facilitators would be needed. Ms. Papadopoulos asked whether the disproportionality concept is applicable to Adult Protective Services (APS) clientele as well. Ms. James responded that the center is looking at all programs within HHS, including APS. Data will be gathered and examined at the state and region levels to determine strategies for improved outcomes where disproportionality and disparities have been identified. Chair Bryant mentioned the video that is available about KWYA and requested that copies of the video be given to any Council member who does not currently have a copy.
3.c. Commissioner's Report to include: Agency Administrative Changes and Acknowledgements, Staff Realignment, Implementation of Legislation, Foster Care Redesign, Fostering Connections, and Notification of Rule Adoptions – Howard Baldwin
Chair Bryant welcomed DFPS Interim Commissioner Howard Baldwin. Council members had the opportunity to meet with him prior to the Council meeting. Commissioner Baldwin introduced and welcomed new Council members Patricia Cole, Anna Jimenez and Ben Morris.
Commissioner Baldwin gave his history of work. His wife worked with CPS in Bexar County. He described his background as a lawyer, first with the Department of Human Resources, and then in family law in private practice, representing children in CPS cases. He was the founding president of CASA in San Antonio. He served as a volunteer attorney working with the Guardianship Advisory Board in the '80s. He worked in the Child Support Division under the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and has drafted legislation. He served five years at the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services in Governmental Relations. He returned to the OAG to head the Child Support Division for 2-1/2 years and then was First Assistant AG under Senator Cornyn (when he was the Attorney General). He retired and worked in the private sector managing operations for two corporations. Serving again for DFPS is a homecoming for him.
Commissioner Baldwin thanked former Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein, with whom he has worked, and who set up briefings for him. He announced two staff changes: Jennifer Sims has returned to DFPS as Deputy Commissioner. She will serve as Acting Commissioner in his absence. Second, Michele Adams is now Assistant Commissioner of Child Care Licensing.
He updated the Council on Foster Care Redesign. The procurement is out; contracts may be awarded for two areas anticipated to occur in January 2012. Fostering Connections is a Permanent Managing Conservatorship program using state and federal funds to place children with relatives. There have been 219 children placed in permanent homes through the Fostering Connections program and an additional 267 placements are in process.
Implementation of legislation following the session is a focus for the department. Rules presented in this council meeting reflect the work of the legislature. APS held a stakeholder forum and has made changes according to recommendations. CPS is moving forward with foster care redesign. Legal has been speaking at conferences and sending out written information which provides training to outside lawyers and judges as a result of legislation. The House of Representatives has released their interim charges, and the Government Relations team will determine how the charges will affect the department and share the information with Council members and staff. We await the Senate charges.
DFPS fared well compared to other agencies, which reflects an understanding by the legislature of the critical work DFPS does. We have moved FTEs through a staff realignment process and have redistributed the staff across the state based on workload needs. Some specialty jobs have been changed into basic caseworker positions. Of the 552 staff positions identified for realignment, 385 have been placed. As you will recall, employees impacted by the realignment will be placed within 30 miles of their former position and will not lose pay. For remaining staff, we are looking at placement options within the HHS enterprise.
Commissioner Baldwin concluded with notification of rule adoption to Chapter 705, Adult Protective Service, and Chapter 711, Investigations in DADS Mental Retardation and DSHS Mental Health Facilities and Related Programs proposed at the June 10, 2011, Council meeting. Rules were published July 1, 2011, in the Texas Register. No comments were received. The Department received HHSC approval to adopt the rules on August 31. The rules were published in the September 16, 2011, Texas Register and will become effective December 1, 2011.
Chair Bryant thanked Commissioner Baldwin for his report.
3.d. Chair's Report – Gigi Edwards Bryant
Chair Bryant asked council members to introduce themselves and report on their regional activities.
Anna Jimenez of Corpus Christi works with the Regional Public Defenders Office on capital murder cases. Formerly, she was district attorney of Nueces County and prior to that she was a child abuse prosecutor. She has met with CPS Assistant Commissioner and will soon be meeting with the CPS Regional Director and local staff.
Scott Rosenbach from Amarillo serves Region 1. His is a Certified Public Accountant and pastor of a church. In the last quarter, he hosted Commissioner Heiligenstein's regional staff meeting and since then has met with APS Assistant Commissioner and the Region 1 APS Regional Director.
Tina Martin of McAllen is the liaison for Regions 8 and 11. She attended Commissioner Heiligenstein's regional staff meeting in August and the two-day intensive training that was held in McAllen. She also participated in a condensed disproportionality training held in Weslaco. Ms. Martin is part of the original group that started the Children's Advocacy Center in Hidalgo and now chairs the board of directors.
Imogen Papadopoulos is a family law attorney in Houston. She represents Regions 5 and 6. She attended Commissioner Heiligenstein's regional staff meeting in Houston. Ms. Papadopoulos is a member of the voluntary state board for APS and has interests in the area of CPS as well. She is working on a continuing education course for attorneys who take pro bono cases representing grandparents raising grandchildren who are not in the care of CPS. There are approximately 30,000 such families in Harris County. She works with the law schools in Houston and with the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program. CLE credit is free to attorneys who will take a case representing grandparents. Board-certified family law attorneys mentor the participants. Ms. Papadopoulos is a graduate of and member of the board of South Texas College of Law. The law clinic there will be expanded, providing opportunity for the family law aspect of the clinic.
Debbie Epperson, representing Regions 3 and 4, has served on the Council since 2007. She attended and provided refreshments for the intensive training forum held in the Dallas area in July. She attended Commissioner Heiligenstein's regional staff meeting in Fort Worth and will speak at the Parent Collaboration Group meeting this month. She also plans to attend the APS conference in San Antonio next month. Ms. Epperson is one of the grandparents raising a grandchild.
Linda Robinson, also of Houston, shares Regions 5 and 6 with Ms. Papadopoulos. She attended and provided refreshments for the intensive training forum held in Houston. She and Council member Morris met with Terri Ware and will be working on tasks supporting the department's Operations division, on which she will report in January. Dr. Robinson attended the grand opening of the Community Partners resource room in Liberty, Texas.
Ben Morris, of Cleburne, has worked in education for 19 years, most of the time as a school counselor. He is now a school administrator and stresses the importance of reporting concerns of abuse or neglect.
Patricia Cole, of Fort Worth, is an attorney. She began her practice in probate and estate planning, small business, and CPS cases. Her legal practice now includes probate, estate planning and elder law relating to APS. Ms. Cole recently attended the Diligent Recruitment Stakeholders meeting sponsored by CASA, CPS, and Tarrant County Child Welfare Board.
General Counsel Gerry Williams welcomed the new council members.
Chair Bryant acknowledged Patricia Cole's recent honors. Safe Haven recognized her in September as a Legacy of Women Business honoree. On November 9, she will be named one of 2011's Great Women of Texas, Women of Influence by the Fort Worth Business Press. She serves on the board of Clark Educational Services, Inc., and volunteers for Fort Worth Habitat for Humanity, the Lena Pope Home, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Greater Fort Worth Humane Society. Ms. Cole referred to the Legacy award as the greatest honor of her life.
Chair Bryant thanked the new council members for joining the board.
Agenda Item 4 – Public Testimony
Chair Bryant explained that a work session is held before each Council meeting to discuss proposed rule changes. The Council has considered proposed changes and public comment will be solicited after the proposals are approved. Chair Bryant invited public comment and outlined the rules for public testimony, including time limitations.
Elizabeth Tucker of Every Child spoke with general comments on children with disabilities. Ms. Tucker has worked in Texas in developmental disabilities since 1984. Every Child contracts with HHSC to create a system of family-based alternatives for children with developmental disabilities who are living in facilities. Every Child attempts to decrease the number of children in nursing homes, large intermediate care facilities and in small intermediate care facilities. She hopes Foster Care Redesign will help with returning these children to living with families in their communities. Ms. Tucker has seen the Kansas model of the CPS system providing positive behavior support and training to foster families and long-term family placement.
Andrew Ward, speaking for himself, recommended operational changes. He is a foster parent, hoping to adopt a child repatriated from Mexico this year. He submitted written suggestions, including the suggestion to implement a website for communication about foster children to be accessible by the child's caseworker, foster parents and the court. Mr. Ward offered to find money through private foundations and corporations to be donated for this purpose. He also suggested formation of a committee to work with faith-based organizations and diversion of funds from current awareness campaigns to a faith-based initiative that would educate churches to the need for recruitment and training for church members interested in fostering to adopt. Mr. Ward suggested that CPS work with churches in major cities to provide awareness and training to draw foster parents into the system and raise awareness of private child placing agencies that are faith-based organizations. He also discussed possible legislation to require that foster family's input be entered into court records. Chair Bryant asked Colleen McCall to meet with Mr. Ward to collect his concerns and suggestions which will be reported back to the council.
Agenda Item 5 - New Business
5.a. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Subchapter F, Release Hearings – Colleen McCall, CPS
Ms. McCall presented the proposal intended to prevent abuse and neglect of children and vulnerable adults by decentralizing the process of releasing CPS findings to outside parties that have control over a designated perpetrator's access to children and vulnerable adults. Ms. McCall asked that the Council recommend these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Ms. Epperson moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC, the repeal of §700.601 through 700.605, and new §700.601 through 700.608, concerning release hearings, as reflected in the Council's October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.a. Ms. Martin seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for a vote and discussion. There was no comment and the motion passed by voice vote.
5.b. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Subchapter O, Foster and Adoptive Home Development, §700.1501, Regarding Waivers and Variances for Relative Foster Homes – Colleen McCall, CPS
Ms. McCall presented the changes to the section, the purpose of which is to correctly state the current practice of reviewing requests for variances and waivers to minimum standards for relative foster homes. The Residential Child Care Licensing Division is responsible for the review of such requests rather the Director of CPS as stated in the current language. Ms. McCall asked that the Council recommend these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Mr. Rosenbach moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC, an amendment to §700.1501, concerning waivers and variances for relative foster homes, as reflected in the Council's October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.b. Ms. Epperson seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for discussion and a vote. There was no comment and the motion passed by voice vote.
5.c. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC Chapter 700, Subchapter C, Eligibility for Child Protective Services – Colleen McCall, CPS
Ms. McCall presented three primary proposals to update foster care eligibility rules: (1) to incorporate a new placement setting referred to as Supervised Independent Living (SIL), (2) to create one extended foster care program in response to federal guidance and state legislative changes, and (3) to delete unnecessary provisions, simplify language and bring the rules into conformity with current practice. SIL is a new placement setting created by the Federal Fostering Connections legislation, which allows states to receive federal funds for children living in a supervised independent environment, such as an apartment setting and college dormitory. The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and DFPS have developed rate methodologies for SIL providers, which were proposed at the June council meeting. DFPS anticipates it will be able to offer the SIL option to young adults beginning September 1, 2012. Fostering Connections also allows former foster youth to return to care. The current Return to Care Program is state funded and has limitations on its use. The new federal guidelines clarify eligibility requirements for states, and the Texas Legislature amended the Texas Family Code to reflect those federal requirements, including court oversight in certain situations. Ms. McCall asked that the Council recommend these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Dr. Robinson moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC the amendments, repeals and new sections concerning eligibility for Child Protective Services, as reflected in the Council's, October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.c, including the addendum that replaces §700.316. Ms. Martin seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for discussion and vote. Mr. Williams made additional comments concerning foster care eligibility, the effect of accepting federal dollars, and the need for creating one program. The addendum clarifies the nature of a guardianship through the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS). Ms. Papadopoulos thanked Mr. Williams for the clarification. Ms. McCall called for the vote. The motion passed by voice vote.
5.d. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 745, Licensing – Char Bateman, CCL
Ms. Char Bateman, CCL, presented the proposed rule changes to support and implement new legislation passed during the 82nd Legislature. Rules are being changed to be consistent with HB 1615, regarding medication administration in child care operations; HB 3051, regarding parents on the premises programs; SB 76, regarding relative child care and listed family homes; SB 78, regarding adverse action information sharing between state HHS agencies; and SB 1178, regarding CCL omnibus bill. Ms. Bateman asked that the Council recommend these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Ms. Martin moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC, the amendments and new sections concerning Chapter 745, Licensing, as reflected in the Council's October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.d. Mr. Rosenbach seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for discussion and the vote. There was no comment and the motion passed by voice vote.
5.e. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 748, General Residential Operations; and Chapter 749, Child-Placing Agencies; regarding training and handguns – Char Bateman, CCL
Ms. Bateman presented the proposed rule changes to support and implement new legislation passed during the 82nd Legislature. Rules are being amended to be consistent with changes in the law related to HB 2560, regarding handguns in foster parent vehicles; SB 265, regarding training content and trainer minimum qualifications for child care operations; and SB 471, regarding policies and training on abuse/neglect of children in child care centers and child placing agencies. Ms. Bateman asked that the Council recommend that these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Ms. Martin moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC, the amendments concerning training and handguns, as reflected in the Council's October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.e. Ms. Epperson seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for discussion and the vote. There was no comment and the motion passed by voice vote.
5.f. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 747, Minimum Standards for Child-Care Homes – Char Bateman, CCL
Ms. Bateman presented the rules changes to support and implement new legislation passed during the 82nd Legislature. Rules are being amended, repealed or added to be consistent with changes in the law related to HB 434, regarding the provision of specialized medical assistance in child care operations; HB 1615, regarding medication administration in child care operations; SB 260, regarding training requirements in child care operations; SB 265, regarding training content and trainer minimum qualifications for child care operations; and SB 1178, regarding controlling persons. Ms. Bateman asked that the Council recommend that these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Ms. Jimenez moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC, the amendments, repeals and new sections, concerning Chapter 747, Minimum Standards for Child-Care Homes, as reflected in the Council's October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.f. Mr. Rosenbach seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for discussion and the vote. The motion passed by voice vote. There was no comment and the motion passed by voice vote.
5.g. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 743, Minimum Standards for Shelter Care; Chapter 744, Minimum Standards for School-Age and Before or After-School Programs; and Chapter 746, Minimum Standards for Child-Care Centers – Char Bateman, CCL
Ms. Bateman presented rule changes to minimum standards in Chapters 743, 744, and 746 which are being amended, repealed or added to be consistent with changes in the law related to HB 434, regarding the provision of specialized medical assistance in child care operations; HB 1615, regarding medication administration in child care operations; SB 260, regarding training requirements in child care operations; SB 265, regarding training content and trainer minimum qualifications for child care operations; SB 471, regarding policies and training on abuse/neglect of children in child care centers and child placing agencies; andSB 1178, regarding controlling persons and the regulation of shelter care. Ms. Bateman asked that the Council recommend that these rules be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Mr. Rosenbach moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC, the amendments, repeals and new sections concerning Chapters 743, 744, and 746, as reflected in the Council's, October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.g. Ms. Cole seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for discussion. Ms. Martin stated that she was pleased with the increased number of training hours but was disappointed by the move to allow additional hours of self-instruction training. Chair Bryant asked for more discussion and called for the vote. The motion passed by voice vote.
5.h. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC Chapter 732, Contracted Services – Gerry Williams, Legal
Mr. Williams asked that the Council accept rules regarding contracted services. The rules extend the time a contract may last from 54 to 60 months and may allow a waiver process for a longer period. This creates a new contract protest rule and broadens DFPS's ability to make advance payments. Mr. Williams asked that the Council recommend that the rule changes be proposed and published in the Texas Register for formal; public comment.
Dr. Robinson moved that the Council recommend for proposal by HHSC, the amendments, repeals and new section, concerning Chapter 732, Contracted Services, as reflected in the Council's October 21, 2011, Agenda Item 5.h. Ms. Martin seconded the motion. Ms. Bryant called for discussion and called for the vote. The motion passed by voice vote.
Agenda Item 7 - Adjourn
Chair Bryant thanked Council members and staff. She called on Commissioner Baldwin for closing comments. Commissioner Baldwin thanked Chair Bryant and members for their service.
Ms. Papadopoulos asked Chair Bryant to share her activities since the last meeting. Chair Bryant represents Regions 7 and 8, attending meetings, listening to staff, and receiving updates on the children and the elderly served by the department. She supports the work of individual Council members and the department.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:42 a.m.