Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) State Plan

The name, address, and fax number of the applicant agency.

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
701 W. 51st St.
Austin, TX  78751
Telephone (512) 438-3313
Fax            (512) 438-3782
Right Fax: (512) 339-5927

The name, title, and telephone number of the individual designated to serve as the Child Abuse and Neglect State Liaison Officer with the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN).

Joyce James, LMSW-AP
Assistant Commissioner, Child Protective Services
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
P. O. Box 149030, Mail Code W-157
Austin, TX  78714-9030
(512) 438-3313

The name and telephone number of a contact person who will be able to answer questions about the application.

Joyce James, LMSW-AP
(512) 438-3313
Fax (512) 438-3782
Right Fax: (512) 339-5927

The applicant agency’s Employer Identification Number (EIN).

The EIN of the applicant, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, is 74-2639167. 

Explain substantive changes, if any, in State law that would affect eligibility, including an explanation from the State Attorney General as to why the change would or would not, affect eligibility (section 106(b)(1)(B)).   Include a copy of any relevant State statute.  Note: States do not have to notify ACF of statutory changes or submit them for review if they are not substantive and would not affect eligibility.

There have been no substantive changes to the laws in Texas that would affect eligibility for CAPTA funding. 

Describe the services and training to be provided under the CAPTA state grant as required by section 106(b)(2)(C) of CAPTA. 

A description of all services provided by the CPS program is located in Section I of the APSR .  Section III provides a detailed update of the DFPS training plan. 

The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (PRS) was created by the 72nd Legislature and charged with protecting children, elder adults and persons with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation, and with licensing child care facilities and child-placing agencies.  House Bill 7, which combined HHS agencies under one umbrella, transferred the following programs to PRS on September 1, 1992:

  • all functions of child protective services
  • the functions, programs and activities of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR) related to the investigations of abuse and neglect within its facilities
  • all functions of adult protective services
  • all activities related to regulating child care facilities and child-placing agencies

During the 1999 Legislative Session (76th Legislature), Senate Bill 1574 established the responsibility of PRS to implement and manage programs intended to prevent at-risk behaviors that lead to child abuse, delinquency, running away, truancy, and dropping out of school.  In addition, Senate Bill 2641, the sunset bill for HHSC, formally established HHSC as an umbrella agency for HHS state agencies, including PRS, and contained several provisions requiring increased coordination and consolidation of health and human services functions.

During the 2003 Legislative Session (78th Legislature), House Bill 2292 created the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (formerly Department of Protective and Regulatory Services).  DFPS is charged with protecting children, adults who are elderly or have disabilities living at home or in state facilities, and licensing group day care homes, day care centers, and registered family homes.  The agency is also charged with managing community-based programs that prevent delinquency, abuse, neglect and exploitation of Texas children, elderly, and disabled adults. 

The Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Division of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) was created to consolidate prevention and early intervention programs within the jurisdiction of a single state agency.  Consolidation of these programs was intended to eliminate fragmentation and duplication of services for at-risk children, youth, and families.  

Supporting the Division of Prevention and Early Intervention is the Contract Performance Division.  Contract Performance staff are responsible for identifying appropriate outputs and outcomes for contracted prevention and early intervention service providers.    The Contract Performance Division is also responsible for supporting and maintaining data collection systems.  

Below are brief descriptions of each prevention and early intervention program.  The PEI section of the DFPS Web site (www.dfps.state.tx.us) provides information about the availability of PEI programs in each of the state’s 254 counties.  The Web site is updated regularly to provide Texans with timely information on prevention and early intervention services.  

  • Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Program:
    The CBCAP program seeks to increase community awareness of existing prevention services and to strengthen community and parental involvement in child abuse prevention efforts.  The Community Partnerships for Strengthening Families (CPSF) Program is delivered through six contracts with local entities in Abilene, Austin, Dallas, Port Arthur, San Angelo and San Antonio.  The Partnerships are comprehensive collaborations of parents, community members, community- and faith-based organizations and government agencies working to improve outcomes for children, youth and families.  Partnerships build upon existing community strengths and assets for supporting families, and facilitate the creation of a continuum of prevention services.  The model places a high priority on parental involvement and participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of community-based programs and activities designed to prevent child abuse and neglect.  CBCAP will also procure one or more contracts for a new Successful Parents program during fiscal year 2007, focusing on families with children ages 0-5 who are at risk for child abuse and neglect as identified by a risk assessment inventory, and that will provide holistic support services based upon the identified core elements of the Relief Nursery Program of Eugene Oregon, which was identified as a Program with Noteworthy Aspects by the recent “Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect” report. In addition, a contract will be procured for the Prevent Infant Mortality Program, with the overall goal to raise awareness and decrease incidents of preventable child deaths that are associated with child abuse and neglect; and a pilot Rural Prevention Initiative, focusing on increasing awareness and access to support services for those living in decentralized rural areas of the state and addressing the unique challenges faced by these areas. 
  • Community Youth Development (CYD) Program:  Community Youth Development (CYD) programs provide community-based delinquency prevention programs in 15 areas of the state that are known to have a high incidence of juvenile crime.  The program is ZIP code based and is currently available in Amarillo (79107), Austin (78744), Brownsville (78520), Corpus Christi (78415), Dallas (75216, 75217), El Paso (79924), Fort Worth (76106), Galveston (77550), Houston (77081), Lubbock (79415), McAllen (78501), Pasadena (77506), San Antonio (78207), and Waco (76707).  Committees made up of local community members and youth representatives assess community strengths and needs, identify funding priorities and review proposals submitted by prospective service providers for funding through the local procurement by the primary contractor. Examples of CYD program services include youth leadership development, life skills development, character education, conflict resolution, enrichment, education, employment, mentoring, and family support.  Services must be evidence-based and shown to be effective in preventing juvenile delinquency.  In fiscal year 2005, the CYD program served 23,040 youth.  
  • Services To At-Risk Youth (STAR) Program:  The STAR program was established in 1983 to help fill the gap in services to youth who were runaways, truant, at risk of running away, or at risk of abuse who did not meet the criteria for Child Protective Services or services of county juvenile probation programs.  The program has grown since its inception and currently provides services to all 254 Texas counties.  STAR services are provided to youth under the age of 18 who are runaways, truants, and/or living in family conflict; youth who are age 9 and younger who have allegedly been involved in, or committed, delinquent offenses; and 10 to 16 year-olds who have allegedly committed misdemeanor or state jail felony offenses but have not been adjudicated delinquent by a court.  Community agencies provide STAR services via state contract.  Services must include family crisis intervention counseling, short-term emergency residential care, individual and family counseling and universal child abuse and neglect prevention activities.  All contractors serve one or more primary counties and may apply to serve other counties in their areas.  Contractors must maintain a STAR office in each primary county.  There are provisions for part-time satellite offices in other counties or for staff to use a “circuit rider” approach to serve outlying counties.  The program’s highest priority is to support youths remaining in their homes.  If safety is in question youth can be placed in emergency residential care for up 60 days in a 365-day period.  Non-residential services can be provided for up to 180 days in a 365-day period.  The STAR program served 26,875 youth during fiscal year 2005. (2005 Data Book)  Nearly two-thirds (65.7%) were referred for reasons of family conflict.  The remaining youth were referred to STAR because they were truant (14.0%), had committed offenses (17.0%), or were runaways (3.3%).
  • Tertiary Prevention for Child Abuse:  The Tertiary Prevention for Child Abuse Program provides community-based, volunteer-driven services for prevention, intervention and aftercare services for the families of children who have been, or who are at risk of, child abuse and neglect.  The goals of the program are to prevent child maltreatment, reduce the number of families reentering the Child Protective Services system, improve the quality and availability of aftercare services for abused children, and enhances the statewide network of tertiary child abuse prevention programs.
  • Texas Families:  Together and Safe:  Texas Families:  Together and Safe is a DFPS program of family support grants.  Family support services are provided through community-based prevention programs.  These programs are designed to alleviate stress, promote parental competencies and increase the ability of families to successfully nurture their children.  Families are provided information about resources and opportunities available in their communities.  The information is intended to reduce social isolation by promoting the development of support networks for families. Ideally the support networks will help to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect by increasing protective factors.  Program design, including the specific selection of services offered families, is developed at the local level.  During fiscal year 2005, a total unduplicated count of 18,344 families received services.
  • Family Strengthening and Youth Resiliency programs:  New funds made available to the Division through the 2005 Legislative Appropriation were made available through two procurements during fiscal year 2006, with contracts effective April 1, 2006.  In accordance with direction provided through Senate Bill (SB) 6, evidence-based services were sought that have been evaluated and proven to be effective in preventing child maltreatment or juvenile delinquency (At-Risk Prevention Services) or that utilized best practices and sound research in program design (Innovative Prevention Services – limited duration 17-month demonstration projects).   A total of 18 contracts were entered for At-Risk services and five for Innovative, providing a variety of services across the state that are designed to increase known protective factors to increase family resiliency while preventing child abuse and neglect; or to increase youth resiliency while preventing juvenile delinquency. Programs must also foster strong community collaboration to provide for a continuum of services.
  • Note:  The Dan Kubiak Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Program, previously funded by DFPS/PEI, ended on February 28, 2006. 
  • Texas Runaway and Youth Hotlines:  The Governor of Texas established the first nationwide runaway hotline in 1973 following the discovery of the bodies of 27 young men in the Houston area.  Originally named “Operation Peace of Mind,” the hotline was manned by community volunteers and served as a message relay service to foster communication between runaways and parents.  Today the renamed “Texas Runaway Hotline” exclusively serves Texas youth and families.  Hotline staff and volunteers work closely with social service agencies and juvenile delinquency prevention programs to provide 24-hour crisis intervention and telephone counseling, information and referrals to callers in need of food, shelter, transportation to their homes, conference calls to parents and shelters, a confidential message relay service between runaways and parents, and paging services for callers in need of immediate assistance from program staff after regular office hours.  Building on the success of the Runaway Hotline, the Texas Youth Hotline was established in December 1998.  Callers with a broader range of youth-related concerns can talk to a trained volunteer who may provide referral information or simply provide a listening ear to the callers.  Collectively, the hotlines attended to 39,680 calls during fiscal year 2005.  The hotlines’ databases contain approximately 2,300 listings of state and local resources.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is the state agency designated by the governor to receive the Basic State Grant funds
(Title I) under provisions of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amendments of 1996 (P.L. 104-235).  Within DFPS, the Child Protective Services (CPS) program provides direct services statewide to children and families in which child abuse and/or neglect has been alleged.  Referrals of abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, elderly and disabled adults are received through our statewide Hotline.  Referrals may be received by the DFPS website or by telephone.  The Statewide Hotline received 234,620 reports of abuse and neglect of children.  CPS investigated 160,069 cases of suspected child abuse and neglect in Texas during fiscal year 2005 .  Of these 38,522 cases were confirmed.  There were 61,433 confirmed victims.   Additional statistical information is available on the DFPS website. 

In addition to protecting the immediate safety of children, CPS provides services to reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect in the home.  Sometimes, it is possible for children to remain in the home while CPS works with the family.  In other cases, it is necessary to find a safe place for children to live, with a relative or in foster care, while the family addresses its problems.

In fiscal year 2005 , 23,715 family cases were opened for services and an average of 11,526 families per month received in-home services.  In addition, 17,428 new children were placed in substitute care, 3,997 more children than in 2004 .  Substitute care is defined as care for children in the legal responsibility of CPS who are placed outside their own home.  This includes foster homes, foster group homes, residential treatment facilities, hospitals, adoptive homes, relative homes, and independent living arrangements.  Of the children who left legal responsibility in fiscal year 2005 , 58.8 percent were able to either return home or be placed with a relative. 

Texas Statewide Intake (SWI)  

Due to noted disparities in practice when the counties (over 250) were performing their own local intakes for child abuse and neglect, Texas needed to better utilize their workforce and workspace in order to have a more efficient and effective intake system.  When the department began the process to create a statewide intake system, the main focus was to implement a system that would be consistent across a large and varied geographic area.  In response to these needs, the department created a system intended to be user-friendly, effective, and consistent.  The intake operation requires a blend of child welfare practice and technology application.  

Centralization implementation began in September 1996 with the delivery of the CAPS (now IMPACT) computer system.  It continued in stages with separate regions being added to Statewide Intake every three to four months until July 1999, when the Houston region was assimilated and completed the process. State and local CPS staff made presentations in the community with other local child welfare staff, professionals, members of the community, and law enforcement to gain support for the central intake center.  To ensure effective collaboration with law enforcement a separate prioritized phone number for law enforcement officials to call when reporting abuse and neglect was implemented.  This allows law enforcement to automatically be the next call taken.  Law enforcement officials may now also report child abuse or neglect via the Internet, fax, or mail. 

All reports of child abuse and neglect, as well as abuse and neglect of the elderly or disabled or within licensed child care settings, are received at a central call center located in Austin.  Those reporting abuse or neglect call an 800 number and speak to a worker trained in intake regarding all areas of abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

 Non-emergency reports of child and elderly abuse and neglect may also be made electronically through the state’s web site.  Internet reporting began in August 2001.  On the report page, a professional or member of the community can complete a form with all relevant information regarding the suspected abuse or neglect.  Reports made through the Internet may not be anonymous.  Contact information and most of the other information fields are required when using this reporting format.  Reporters receive a confirmation e-mail including the identification number of the report and the initials of the alleged victim of abuse or neglect. 

Cross-reports to law enforcement are made according to the local law enforcement office’s preference and technological capabilities.  The de-identified cross-reports are sent to law enforcement either via e-mail using MS Outlook or by fax using RightFax. 

 Abuse/neglect reports that have been accepted for investigation are assigned electronically to specific workloads in the appropriate county.  In many counties the assignment is made directly to a supervisor’s workload.  In other areas, particularly more urban counties, the assignment is made to a designated support staff person’s workload.  The staff person then assigns the investigation based on a local supervisory rotation list.

 Statewide Intake (SWI) Basic Skills Development (BSD):

SWI BSD is a 7 week training program designed to provide entry level skills for DFPS staff who accept and process abuse and/or neglect referrals of children (ages 0-17), the elderly (65 and over) and adults with disabilities.  BSD consists of 5 days of Orientation, 13 days of classroom training and 14 days of On-the-Job Training (OJT). 

 During Orientation, new staff are given an overview of the agency, SWI, the duties of the job and spend time observing tenured SWI workers.  

 Traditional classroom covers components of DFPS program specifics, interviewing and documentation techniques, self-awareness and computerized documentation functions.  Trainee comprehension and development is evaluated on a continuous basis throughout SWI BSD through peer, trainer and supervisor feedback, written assignments, recorded and non-recorded role-plays and a variety of legal and procedural assessment tools. 

 During OJT, new staff use the interviewing, assessing, documenting and staffing skills learned during classroom training to handle actual calls.  Tenured workers provide peer training during the three weeks.  One-on-one peer training is preferable as the new staff learn more quickly and efficiently that way.  Calls handled during OJT are processed just like any calls taken by more tenured staff.   Refresher training is done with the class as a whole on topics as needed.  SWI BSD is scheduled on an “as needed” basis in cooperation with SWI Administration.

Describe the provisions and procedures for criminal background checks for prospective foster and adoptive parents and other adult relatives and non-relatives residing in the household (Section 106(b)(2)(A)(xxii)).

Criminal Background Checks

Texas has not opted out of the criminal history requirements found in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). All prospective foster and adoptive parents must clear a criminal history check under rules set forth through the Licensing Division of DFPS . In addition, all household members of the prospective foster and adoptive parents who are 14 years of age or older must receive a criminal background check. The DFPS criminal history rules are found at 40 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §725.1801 and apply equally to foster and adoptive parents verified or approved through the public agency or through private child-placing agencies. These rules are more stringent than the minimum criminal history requirements found in ASFA. Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Licensing Division of DFPS primarily utilize the criminal history files maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). In addition, local law enforcement records and fingerprint records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can be accessed.

To ensure continued safety, state law requires that criminal history checks on verified foster parents be conducted every two years. Texas state statute and DFPS rules also require that the criminal history report on prospective adoptive parents be current within one year of the judicial order that a criminal background check be conducted on the prospective adoptive parents. Foster and adoptive parents verified and approved through Child Protective Services (CPS) potentially have a national criminal history check completed through the use of fingerprints sent to the FBI. According to CPS policy, if a prospective foster or adoptive parent has not lived for three continuous years in the state, then the prospective resource parent must be fingerprinted.

Individuals who have a criminal history that is not considered a permanent ban under the ASFA regulations or Texas rules may be eligible for an evaluation of risk. The purpose of the evaluation of risk for past criminal history is to determine if the individual is a threat to the health and safety of a child who could be placed into foster care. The initial step in the evaluation process is for the local caseworker and supervision chain to determine if an evaluation will be requested. If the decision is to request the evaluation, then the appropriate form (2974) is completed. Documentation is attached to the form that includes the criminal history, severity of the crime(s), sentence, sentence completion, and reference material. The form and attached documentation is then transmitted to the DFPS licensing representative for processing. The final risk determination will be made in the context of any applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.

If the individual seeking foster care verification is related to the child who would be placed, then the final evaluation of risk is performed by CPS state office staff and approved by the Associate Commissioner of CPS. Overall, the system for checking criminal backgrounds works smoothly. The data links between DFPS and DPS are efficient and generally provide timely information. In some areas of the state, DFPS staff had previously experienced problems accessing local law enforcement records because law enforcement did not believe they had the authority to release records to DFPS.  Legislation passed during the 77th Texas Legislature addressed this concern by passing HB 53.

The greatest delay in obtaining criminal background data involves requests to the FBI. On average, receipt of fingerprint results can take a minimum of eight weeks, assuming there is no problem with the submitted fingerprints. The criminal history requirements and procedures used in Texas have been effective. This is evidenced by Texas’ low incidence of child abuse and/or neglect in foster care.

Please note that compliance with the eligibility requirements for a CAPTA State Grant is a prerequisite for eligibility for funds under the Children’s Justice Act State Grant Program authorized by Section 107(a) of CAPTA.  Include the following information in addition to items 1-3 (service description, collaboration and program support) for the CAPTA State Grant.  This section includes the service descriptions, collaboration and program support:

1) Evaluation of Legislative Initiatives (ELI) Project  

The specific objectives of last year’s CAPTA funded ELI Project were to:  (1) implement and evaluate the changes made to the intranet-based risk assessment instrument as part of CPS reform, (2) complete the evaluation of the Family Group Decision-Making Initiative, (3) complete the evaluation of the Supporting and Educating Relatives as Placement (SERAPE) Program and (4) implement and evaluate the changes made to the intranet-based instrument used in Family Based Safety Services. 

To begin to meet the first objective, five national experts conducted a review of the Texas risk assessment instrument and recommended changes were incorporated.  Participants in the review included Bruce Perry, M.D., Howard Dubowitz, M.D., Robert Johnson, M.D., Nancy Kellogg, M.D. and George Santos, M.D. Their recommended changes were incorporated into the existing instrument.  Following this, a review of safety instruments was conducted and changes incorporated into the instrument were made with the help of a national expert on child safety, Tom Morton, former Director of the Child Welfare Institute.  Modifications to the departmental electronic data system are underway and should be complete in early fiscal year 2007.

The evaluation of Family Group Decision-Making, the second objective, has proceeded on course.  The Preliminary Evaluation indicated both parents and relatives experienced a greater sense of empowerment, clarity of expectations and satisfaction with the Family Plan of Service when attending a Family Group Decision Making Conference, relative to attending a Permanency Planning Team Meeting.  In addition, relative placements and reunifications have increased and foster care placements decreased as a function of the conferences.  Finally, the child well-being data suggests that children are reported to be less anxious (worried about future, concerns of safety) following their families’ participation in a Family Group Decision Making Conference than children whose families’ participated in a Permanency Planning Meeting. In addition, children who are placed with relatives following a conference are reported to be more adjusted (fitting into family routines, getting along with others, happy and adjusted), than children placed in foster care.  

Meeting the third objective, evaluating the outcomes and costs of the SERAPE Initiative, is also proceeding on a similar course.  Data indicate lower disruptions than base rates.  Preliminary data provide some evidence that those families in SERAPE have better outcomes than the families in the other groups. These types of questions will be further addressed with the larger pool of families that will be available with the expansion of the kinship caregiver assistance and kinship support program.   Meeting the fourth objective, evaluating the intranet-based instrument used in Family Based Safety Services has been delayed due to CPS reform efforts and the scope of the first three objectives.  

The Evaluation of Legislative Initiatives project continues to focus on the evaluation of legislative and departmental initiatives. As part of the reform efforts, CPS has revised its intranet based risk assessment instrument.  Safety is now separated from the risk components of the instrument, the number of items and scales has been reduced and some categories were collapsed.  This will require that the new instrument be re-tested using various scientific and practical criteria.  The final phase of the evaluation of Family Group Decision-Making will involve modeling the process of Family Group Decision Making Conferences relative to Permanency Planning controls. Though the modeling phase has taken place in fiscal year 2006 it will be updated in fiscal year 2007 prior to the legislative session.  A similar update will take place for the Kin Care initiative (statewide expansion of SERAPE), however, because of potential low numbers of initial participants, further analyses are likely in late fiscal year 2007.  The Disproportionality Evaluation is underway and initial results indicate that African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately represented in the system.  There are two components to the evaluation.  The first is to analyze and understand the reasons for the disproportionate representation.  The second is to assess CPS' efforts to reduce it.

Grant funds were used to support three positions in CPS all of which are on the Evaluation Team Section in the Accountability Division.  The team evaluated the Family Group Decision Making Initiative (three of three phases), the SERAPE pilot, and began the modification of CPS’ risk assessment instrument to include safety assessment.  

2) Disproportionality

The purpose of the Disproportionality Project is to identify practice improvements that will address disproportionate representation and disparate outcomes for African-American children and their families within the CPS system.  In addition to examining disproportionate rates of children entering the CPS system, other issues will be examined such as the equity with which children of color and their families receive access to available services and the disparate outcomes for African-American children once they are engaged in the child welfare system.  This initiative will promote parity and improve outcomes for all children and families in Texas. 

Building community relationships and partnerships is an integral part of disproportionality work.  Milestones achieved include: 

  • Stakeholder best practices were incorporated to strengthen relationships and increase communication.
  • Community meetings/focus groups were held to gather stakeholder input.
  • Stakeholder and community participated on workgroups, the development of policy revisions, and in trainings with staff.
  • New partnerships and collaborations were created in support of disproportionality goals. 

A child-specific adoption contract, with emphasis on minority children, has been signed with One Church, One Child of North Central Texas, to recruit adoptive families for those children awaiting placement in a permanent, loving home.  

In February 2005, DFPS announced a partnership with Casey Family Programs and other national child welfare experts to design solutions to address racial disparities in the CPS system and improve outcomes for all children and families in Texas.  This effort will enhance programs that seek family input and guidance to keep abused or neglected children within the home of a family member instead of entering the foster care system.  HHSC and DFPS are committed to examining all policies and procedures that may contribute to disparities in the CPS system and developing a remediation plan to address the problems identified in this report. 

Various training has been initiated regarding disproportionality.  “Undoing Racism” training, by the Peoples Institute of New Orleans, was provided to CPS administrators, management, and staff.  DFPS now offers “Undoing Racism” courses to staff.  External stakeholders, foster care alumni and parents have participated in each training session.  CPS training for all new caseworkers has been revised to include additional information on disproportionality, including the “Knowing Who You Are” video produced by Casey Family Services.   Beginning in December 2005 new CPS foster-adopt caseworkers participated in a two-day specialized training on cultural/ethnic issues termed “Racial Ethnic Identity Formation.”   Consistent, statewide training for all CPS staff is under development. 

3) Children with Disabilities  

The focus of this program will be provision of nursing consultation to CPS staff during investigation (INV) and family based safety services (FBSS) and the coordination of healthcare services for children with special healthcare needs in substitute care.  Children with special healthcare needs include chronic physical or developmental conditions.  The CWD Project contract with West Texas A&M University will be discontinued although the goals and outcomes for children will be the same.  CPS is requesting funding for the project director to provide management and oversight of the program.  Funds for the nurses will be provided through the legislative appropriation for CPS Reform. 

One aspect of CPS Reform is the creation of a comprehensive, integrated healthcare delivery system.  This system will provide medical consultation and forensic diagnosis for children in INV and FBSS stages and a medical home for each child in substitute care, beginning with a comprehensive assessment when the child first enters care.  The provision of a medical home is especially important for children with special healthcare needs whose care has often become fragmented under the current system.  

Although CPS provides services to children with an array of healthcare issues, meeting the needs of children with special healthcare needs is especially challenging for caregivers and CPS caseworkers.  Equipping caregivers and caseworkers with knowledge and resources to address the needs of these children enables them to provide better care and to advocate for needed services. CPS has learned that the most useful support for the CPS caseworkers and caregivers of children with special healthcare needs who are responsible for the well being of these children is locally based, accessible, and knowledgeable medical and nursing staff available for consultation.  

4) Education and Developmental Disabilities Specialist

Implementation of specially trained and designated specialists to work with foster children to improve educational outcomes and to obtain services for children with developmental disabilities is expected to enhance Child Protective Service’s ability to provide comprehensive services to our children and assist in compliance with federal and state legislation as well as possible Child and Family Service Review outcomes.  

The Educational Specialists have a vital role to communicate educational needs and issues of children across all units of CPS.  The educational specialists’ role is one of a liaison and collaborator between CPS, substitute caregivers, and schools.  They focus on ensuring academic records are tracked from placement to placement with the implementation of the Education Portfolio.  Educational Specialists do not carry  primary caseload responsibilities, because they work  with any number of cases  with education issues referred to them by CPS caseworkers.  

The Developmental Disability Specialists have a central role in serving a regional subject matter expert for children with disabilities.   They also serve as primary caseworker for children with disabilities placed in certain institutions, collaborate with other state agencies to access services for children with disabilities and facilitate transition of children from institutions into less restrictive community settings. 

These tenured specialists will continue to receive regularly scheduled training and technical assistance from state office staff.  Education Specialists also receive training from Education Service Centers addressing issues of improving education outcomes and special education services.  The regional Educational and Developmental Disability Specialists provide training to the CPS staff on developmental and educational issues and act as information and referral contacts.  

An education portfolio pilot was conducted in Region 2/9 to test the impact and format.  The portfolio was revised based on the results from the pilot project survey of staff and foster parents.  Changes to the IMPACT system were considered and developed.  Changes included the addition of an indicator box to be checked when an Educational Portfolio has been completed.  The Education Specialists monitored data produced from IMPACT to ensure educational records are accurate and updated. 

The development of the Educational Portfolio has led to much collaboration between the Education and Developmental Disability Specialists.  Training has been developed for school staff on the educational needs on children in care and a plan has been developed with Texas Education Agency (TEA) to have a simulcast training in October 2006.  

A presentation on education issues and the Education Portfolio was made to the National Foster Parent Association in May 2006.  An agreement was made to complete a presentation to the Texas Foster Parent Association covering collaborating for education outcomes and the Education Portfolio scheduled for October 2006.  

An arrangement has been made with Casey Family Programs to conduct training for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on education advocacy in the judicial system and the Education Portfolio. CPS participated in the Texas State Strategy Collaborative Meeting and presented on education issues and developed contacts to help assist with the implementation of the education campaign.  

CPS participated in a national workgroup with both the Child Welfare League of America and Casey Family Programs to address the education issue in the PRIDE foster parent training as part of the education campaign.  Education Specialists and State Office staff have made several presentations to various school districts about the educational needs of children in care and the education portfolio. The Education Initiative workgroup developed and implemented a communication plan to educate various groups involved with children in care on the specific education needs of youth in care and the education portfolio.  A letter will be published in the upcoming Texas Foster Families Association newsletter.  Statewide work groups were held to develop the education portfolio format.  The form and content of the Educational Portfolio was developed in a collaborative effort between Texas Education Agency (TEA), Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), and DFPS.  The education specialist role and the development of the portfolio ensure that the child’s education record follows them when a placement change occurs.  The Education and Development Disability Specialists interact on a regular basis with community groups, organizations, and specialized associations to represent the needs of their respective assignments.  

5) Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards

The Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards is a forum developed to coordinate community services for the protection of children. This initiative encourages the development of a model of local, regional, and state child welfare board organization that can be used nationally to promote public/private partnerships to directly ensure proper care and services to foster children and their families. For fiscal year 2007, the plan is to continue the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards project, provide support and technical assistance to the council to create an effective council that can provide training and become a model for local Child Welfare Boards to implement.  

The Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards has been effective in providing leadership through a comprehensive, cohesive network of child welfare boards in order to support services to vulnerable children and promote the prevention of child abuse and neglect to assure that all children live in a loving, nurturing, safe environment. Additionally, member input has been included in the CPS Reform. 

The lessons learned from the initial survey were distributed statewide to the Child Welfare Boards. The findings were used to identify resources within the regions.  

The Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards will provide a conference in September 2006 to provide education to local Child Welfare Boards as well as professionals who provide child abuse intervention and treatment.  

The Child Welfare Board Orientation Manual, 2006 Edition, is used to train local child welfare board members.  

6) Parent Collaboration Group

The Parent Collaboration Group (PCG) provides a mechanism to include biological parents who have experienced CPS services themselves in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the CPS program.  This initiative encourages collaboration with clients who are affected by the CPS service delivery system and provides a unique perspective on how to improve services to families and children.  For fiscal year 2007, the plan is to continue the statewide Parent Collaboration Group, provide support and technical assistance to the pilot regions and the other regions in the state to create a regional Parent Collaboration Group, and to obtain input from parents regarding how to improve well being for children receiving services from CPS. 

PCG has been effective in helping identify policy issues and best practices.  Additionally, member input has been included in the Child and Family Services Review and the Performance Improvement Plan, the State IV-B Plan, and the HHSC directed CPS Reform Project.  

The lessons learned from the initial three pilot sites in Region 06, 08, and 10 were distributed statewide in November 2004. These findings were used to expand the pilots in Region 2/9, 3, and 7. Lessons learned by the initial pilots included handing out surveys to other parents in Focus Groups or Parent Meetings to ensure they are completed and submitted worked well.  Focus group feedback from parents included: 

  • Some clients did report positive things about their caseworker
  • Co-facilitation of the parent information/support groups worked well;
  • Use focus groups to solicit parent feedback was useful;
  • Little or no communication with caseworker
  • Clients thought they were being mislead
  • Did not feel respected
  • Clients felt intimidated by the system
  • Clients were not given the opportunity to participate in setting up visitation with their children
  • Clients were not given the opportunity to develop their service plans. They did not believe these plans were developed for their own specific needs
  • Caseworkers not returning phone calls
  • Clients felt “out of touch” with their children in care, i.e. daily activity, health, and school issues
  • The disposition of investigation was not explained to the parent
  • Clients did not have a clear understanding of the Notification of Findings letter
  • Ensure that the parents are making their own plans and decisions as to how they will accomplish these plans.  At times staff members would jump in and take over as they are motivated to help and they would forget it is the parent’s meeting 
  • Reach out to community providers to share plans to be a support system for parents who go through the CPS system. 

 The results of the initial PCG Parent Satisfaction Survey were distributed statewide in November 2004.  The results of the responses indicate that CPS does a good job in explaining the purpose of the agency and investigation, the process, the agency’s expectations, and consequences of client’s decisions/ actions.  In the remaining domains of Respect, Collaboration and Trust, Resource Provisions, Services, and Foster Care, the perception of the client was that these were areas needing improvement.  Region 6 has developed a survey tool that is used to gather input from biological parents. The surveys are mailed to parents as well as placed in an accessible area within the Region 6 Child Protective Services pilot site office.  

The remaining Regions will begin to establish parent information/ parent support forums. These forums will provide parents with information about the Parent Collaboration Group. After the forums have been developed, the forums will develop into regional Parent Collaboration Groups.     

7) Family Group Decision Making

Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) is a process used to engage families in decision making and development of an individualized family plan to address safety and permanency, in effect, the service plan for use at various times throughout the case.  The FGDM model recognizes that families are most knowledgeable about themselves and can make well-informed decisions, and that individuals can find security and a sense of belonging within their families. 

FGDM emphasizes that first and foremost, families have the responsibility to not only care for, but also to provide a sense of identity for their children.  The process encourages families to connect with their communities and communities to engage their families.  FGDM believes empowering families is the best way to ensure a plan that respects each family’s strengths and resources, respects each family’s bonds and responsibilities, reflects the child’s culture, and keeps the child in his/her own community. By utilizing the FGDM process during service plan development, DFPS partners with families to achieve safety, well-being and permanency goals for their child.  

The implementation and the subsequent updates of the Evaluation of Family Group Decision-Making Evaluation supported the assumption that staff would see the introduction of this modality of involving family in the service planning process as a significantly different process of working with families.  It pointed to issues related to workload, control, differences in court operations and expectations, and coordination with the broader community.  

The Evaluations looked at indications of satisfaction, family support, and child and family well-being.  Compared to families participating in standard service delivery protocols, both parents and relatives experiencing a family group decision-making conference expressed more satisfaction with regard to empowerment, clarity of expectations, and the identification of key issues in the Family Plan of Service.  Although the data is somewhat mixed Family Group Decision Making Conferencing was viewed as meeting more needs and producing more satisfaction with the amount of support.  Early indicators regarding well being reflect that parents who attended a family group decision-making conference felt more confident in their ability to help their children and they have a greater understanding of how the service system for children is organized.  Finally, initial data indicated that following a family group decision-making conference more children were either returned home or living with relatives than was the case prior to the conference.  Still to be determined are the rates with which these data compare to the child welfare population as a whole and the longevity of these placements.  

8)  Best Practices

 With the conclusion of the 79th Legislative Session, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) called for a plan to strengthen the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS) program. One of the six areas identified for improving CPS included the need to improve services to children and families.  CPS created a division and initiative to specifically identify ways to enhance safety, permanency, and well-being for children through the provision of direct and support services to their caretakers, whether biological or through affinity.  

The Family Focus Initiative was developed to address two primary needs: to increase parent participation in service planning and to strengthen an extended family’s ability to provide safe and permanent living arrangements within their kinship structure. 

Whether services are provided internally by CPS staff or secured through external community resources, this initiative seeks to match the services delivered to individual family needs through greater participation of those involved in the actual case planning process. A key component to enhancing services and supports to children and families is the need for managing the cultural changes necessary to assure a more family focused service delivery.

During fiscal year 2006, two Best Practice Liaisons, located in regions 3 and 8, participated in a number of activities to assist the agency in moving forward with both legislatively mandated and CPS Reform projects.  They assisted in shaping the expansion of kinship and family group conferencing services, modifying the permanency planning process, and developing training and a toolkit for staff for family reunification.  Additionally, they have been involved in multiple committees reviewing policy and making recommendations for revisions.  

Specific tasks in which the Best Practice Initiative Specialists participated and were directly involved include the following:  

  • Participation in Family Focus, Texas State Strategy, Training Council and Outsourcing committees for CPS Reform.
  • Participation in activities to support the respective region, including community committees and internal DFPS committees with a focus on best practices.
  • Collaborated with Casey Family Programs through Texas State Strategy to provide statewide training in the areas of group facilitation, adult education, and community resource development for Kinship and FGDM staff.
  • Development of training modules directed at basic skills development for caseworkers that focuses on identification of family strengths and client friendly case planning.
  • Review of Protective Services Training Institute (PSTI) curriculum to ensure consistency with the Family Focus philosophy. Feedback was provided to PSTI.
  • Assistance in development and trainings for Kinship Development Workers, supervisors and administrative staff in preparation for the implementation of the statewide kinship program.
  • Assistance in development of online training for CPS direct delivery staff statewide on the kinship program to include information regarding the services, policy and supports offered to kinship caregivers.
  • Development and delivery of staff training on best practices for Family Based Safety Services workers in Region 8.
  • Participation in planning for training for Human Services Technicians (HST).  Development of specialized HST Visitation training that was piloted in Region 8.
  • Development of staff training on best practices with regard to visitation and reunification protocols.   This training was delivered to staff in Region 8 and shared with the Basic Skills Development Training Council for incorporation into statewide training.
  • Participation in a planning session for the technical assistance provided through the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) to assist with the further development of a family focused service delivery and collaboration between the agency, the courts, and substance abuse providers.
  • Ongoing collaboration with the Disproportionality Initiative to increase the use of FGDM and relative placements for African American children.
  • Ongoing collaboration with judges, attorneys, child advocates and other stakeholders to increase the success of Family Group Decision Making (FGDM).
  • Participation in a presentation regarding FGDM, made to the Texas Associate Court Judges
  • Participation with FGDM Specialists and Casey Family Programs,  recommendation development for a single Texas model of FGDM in order to develop statewide program policy. 
  • Collaboration with Casey Family Programs to develop a logical design plan for the statewide expansion of the SERAPE kinship pilot.
  • Ongoing collaboration with Casey Family Programs and the Texas State Strategy to review policies and practice to assure a family focused service delivery is being provided.
  • Ongoing collaboration with the DFPS Information Technology staff to modify the automation system to incorporate changes in the family assessment and planning processes
  • Collaboration with the DFPS Information Technology staff to revise the data system to accommodate the processes necessary to make and track kinship caregiver assistance payments.

Update the program areas selected for improvement from one or more of the 14 program areas set forth in section 106(a) of CAPTA.  

Fiscal Year 2006 Accomplishments

Use of CAPTA funds for the eight projects in fiscal year 2006 has enabled Texas to carry out a wide variety of activities that benefit Texas’ children, both preventing child abuse and neglect and providing treatment for children who have been abused or neglected.  The accomplishments of each project are discussed separately.

1) Evaluation of Legislative Initiatives Project

The Evaluation of Legislative Initiatives (ELI) Project was designed to carry out research that will benefit Texas children by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the CPS program.  Legislation passed in Texas during the 79 th (2005 ) legislative session mandated the reform of Child Protective Services .  Understanding the impact of these changes is important to assure that children are not at increased risk of harm.  The following are the four main areas in which the accomplishments fall. 

A . Evaluating Family Group Decision-Making

The results described in the August 2005 Preliminary Report indicated there were a total of 2614 instances where a Family Decision-Making Conference was offered throughout the 37 counties where implemented as of June 2005.  Of these, 1646 conferences were held (63%) and 967 (37%) were not.  Conferences were held at various points in the life of a case.  Most (61%) were held within the first 30-45 days following a child removal and involved 1004 families and 1908 children.  The remainder affected youth in the Preparation for Adult Living stage of service (15%), or were conferences held later in the life of a case (13%), including some as follow-up conferences to families who participated in multiple conferences over time. 

Analyses conducted on the 1004 families who experienced conferences within the first 30-45 days following a removal indicate Foster Care placements fell from 1035 (54%) to 733 (38%), while Relative placements increased from 550 (29%) to 850 (45%).  Additionally, 240 (13%) had Returned Home. Finally, a number of children were moved from emergency shelters following conferences (most of the “Other” category).  Thus, in absolute terms, there was a shift from foster care to relative care following a conference.  Two caveats are in order.  First, it is unclear how these compare with the rates of foster care, relative care and reunification when standard practices are considered (e.g., with families who do not participate in a family group conference).  Second, these are preliminary implementation effects.  It remains to be seen whether these placements will strengthen or disrupt over time.  

This study used questionnaires and telephone surveys to gather information from families on their satisfaction, perceived levels of support provided, and caregiver and child well-being. The results from these measures are as follows: 

Satisfaction: Whether the conference takes place in the first month or the fifth month, both Parents and Relatives are more satisfied with Family Group Conferences than Permanency Planning Team (PPT) meetings.  Relatives are slightly more satisfied than Parents, however, both are more satisfied at the fifth month Family Group Decision Making Conferences than the initial conference. Both parents and relatives scored higher on scales measuring empowerment, clarity of expectations communicated to them, and the identification of key issues in the Family Plan of Service. 

Child Well-being: The child well-being data suggests that children are reported to be less anxious (worried about future, concerns of safety) following their families’ participation in a Family Group Decision Making Conference than children whose families’ participated in a Permanency Planning Meeting. In addition, children who are placed with relatives are reported to be more adjusted (fitting into family routines, getting along with others, happy and adjusted), than children placed in foster care.  Children whose families were involved in a Family Group Decision Making Conference and who were placed in relative care are reported report being more adjusted than all other children.  Additionally, children placed in foster care under these same circumstances are reported to be less adjusted than all other children. 

B. Evaluation of SERAPE

Data from the 2005 Preliminary report indicated that the most common types of support received by SERAPE families are monetary assistance and kinship development workers attending CPS events (e.g., PPT meetings, court hearings) with the family. Sixty-five percent of families entering SERAPE received the $1,000 transitional payment. Families had been entering SERAPE at a rate of 6 per month. Since the initial report the number of families being served by the SERAPE program increased 143%..  These numbers will rise considerably with changes made during the statewide expansion following the 2005 legislative session that mandated both a one-time $1,000 transitional payment and a $ 500 additional payment to all relatives that qualify.  This expanded and changed the nature of the evaluation to one in which cost comparisons are more critical.  In March 2006, changes to the departmental electronic data system were made to allow the evaluation to capture data on costs statewide.   

The data from the Preliminary Report provide some evidence that those families in SERAPE have better outcomes than the families in the control group. It is also clear that kinship disruption rates can be quite high when families are not provided with support services and when the placement is not carefully evaluated. What was not yet clear is whether these results occur as a result of providing financial assistance, making more thoughtful placements with kin, by providing the special kinship services, or a combination of these reasons. As indicated in the report these types of questions can only be addressed with a large pool of families, which will now be available as the result of legislation.  Analyses on this larger pool of families are expected to begin in the fall of fiscal year 2007.

C.  Risk Assessment – Investigations

Assessment of Risk and Safety is a major component of CPS investigations.  CPS made major modification to its risk assessment instrument.  First, in addition to analyses demonstrating reliability and validity, five national experts, Bruce Perry, M.D., Howard Dubowitz, M.D., Robert Johnson, M.D., Nancy Kellogg, M.D. and George Santos, M.D. conducted a review of CPS’ risk assessment instrument.  Their recommended changes were incorporated into the existing instrument.  Second, a literature review of safety instruments was conducted.  Third, a national expert on safety assessment, Tom Morton, former Director of the Child Welfare Institute, was hired to consult with a workgroup formed to include safety assessment as part of the existing risk assessment instrument.  The risk assessment instrument was modified to include the safety concepts, child vulnerability, and risk of harm and protective capacities.  

D. Risk Assessment – Family Based Safety Services  

The evaluation of Family Based Safety Services (FBSS) furthers the goal of incorporating risk assessment in all stages of service.  The creation of a risk assessment tool specifically designed for use in family preservation situations is complete as is testing of the tool.  However, the implementation of the tool as part of the FBSS evaluation has been delayed due to reorganization of CPS and further complications. Reform efforts as a result of the 79th (2005) legislative session have delayed this activity.  FBSS staff will use the Tablet PCs and the Mobile Protection System (MPS); a component of the SACWIS designed for use with Tablet PCs and the results will download into the risk assessment instrument.  The evaluation will begin in fiscal year 2007, after implementation of MPS.

2) Disproportionality  

Effective Disproportionality Community Advisory Groups are successfully operating in  three regions in the state.  Regional planning processes, beginning with Port Arthur, Houston and multiple sites in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, have begun with the convening of a wide range of selected community partners, along with DFPS/CPS and Casey Family Programs, to achieve objectives. The next site in a fourth region of the state will follow the same planning to develop community capacity to address disproportionality.  Initial planning began in May 2006. 

A report, entitled, “Disproportionality in the Texas Child Welfare System” was produced and distributed to legislators, agency leadership, and external stakeholders.   This report is currently available on the agency website. 

Disproportionality specialists have been hired in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Beaumont/Port Arthur to support the community’s work on disproportionality and to serve as resources to CPS staff.

3) Children With D isabilities Project  

Nurses are in the process of being hired and should be on the job late summer 2006 after completing CPS Basic Skills Development and CPS Nurse Orientation training.  

4) Educational and Developmental Disabilities Specialists

The Educational and Developmental Disabilities Specialists were placed in the regions to improve the well being of the children in CPS conservatorship who are in school and/or have special needs.  Tenured and experienced staff were hired, and trained.  Both types of specialists have been actively engaged in meeting the goals and objectives of the project.  Technical assistance was provided to the specialists by email and phone calls as needed and requested.  They have been introduced to the CPS units and are developing networks in the communities to be able to locate necessary resources.  The specialists work with the Regional Placement Coordinators regarding specific difficult cases when interagency contacts are needed. 

The Education Specialists have provided training and presentations to CPS staff, foster parent associations, and independent school districts.  The topics of training have been promoting education placement stability, securing and maintaining accurate and accessible school records in the Education Portfolio, and advocacy and collaboration between all stakeholders.  The Education Specialists have also developed policy and procedures to assist CPS workers with education issues and concerns to help promote education success of youth in care. 

One of the major responsibilities of the Developmental Disabilities Specialist is to complete the mandated HHSC Permanency Review Screens on a scheduled six- month interval.  The purpose of the report is to track any planning completed to determine if the children would be appropriate for placement in a family setting within the community rather than an institutional setting.  If a child is determined to be appropriate for community placement, the Developmental Disabilities Specialist assists the worker in searching for resources and making arrangements. 

5) Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards  

During fiscal year 2005, the Texas Council of Child Welfare Board (TCCWB) meetings were conducted in Austin in September 2005, January 2006, and April 2006. A meeting is also scheduled for September 2006.  During these meetings the TCCWB members:  

  • Developed articles for its online newsletter that is published on the TCCWB website for public viewing;
  • Updated bylaws to reflect new operational changes;
  • Provided input into the HHSC/CPS Reform Initiatives such as Outsourcing and Community Engagement;
  • Provided input into the Texas 2006 APSR and CPS policy;
  • Revised the TCCWB Orientation Manual;
  • Hired an Executive Director for the TCCWB; and
  • Served as an advocate at the Child Welfare League annual conference in Washington, D.C.  

The TCCWB updated its Child Welfare Board Orientation Manual in fiscal year 2006 as a tool to train new officers appointed to the local county Child Welfare Boards. 

6) Parent Collaboration Group

Statewide Parent Collaboration Group (PCG) meetings were conducted in Dallas in November 2005, March 2006, and June 2006.  A meeting is also scheduled for September 2006.  During these sessions the PCG members: 

  • Developed an online newsletter that is published on the DFPS website for agency and public viewing;
  • Identified three new pilot sites; 2 have begun parent information/support meetings that are parent-led;
  • Provided input into the State IV-B Plan and HHSC/CPS Reform Initiatives such as Family Group Decision-Making and Disproportionality;
  • Developed two workshop presentations conducted by a PCG Panel at the 2005 Family Preservation Institute (FPI) Conference; and were invited to present two additional presentations at the 2006 FPI Conference;
  • Developed a partnership with Texas CASA to support local parent information and mentoring groups statewide;
  • Participated in a proposal to partner with Casey Family Programs and develop a parent advocate and mentoring program utilizing the Powerful Families model;
  • Expanded parent and staff participation to include parent couples, Best Practice Specialists, Program Administrator Liaison, the Director of CPS Field, and Regional Directors; and
  • Provided input on the qualifications for a Texas Parental Advisory Committee as required by Senate Bill 6, 79th Texas Legislative Session.  

The purpose of the local PCG projects (pilot and non-pilot) is to develop a parent group that both provides information and support to parents as well as provides input to the agency on how CPS can improve services.  

Local activities include:

  •  Replication of the pilot model in regions 03, 07, and 9;
  • Communication of successes and pitfalls from the original pilot sites to the new sites;
  • Distribution of Parent Satisfaction Surveys in Region 6;
  • Use of the PCG Video in all new caseworker Basic Skills Development classes in Texas;
  • Participation by Parent Liaisons in Child Protective Services Leadership training;
  • Establishment of parent information/support groups;
  • Development of a training curriculum using the Family Guide to the Child Welfare System; and
  • Provision of training opportunities to workers regarding the parent perspective  

The PCG group developed a training video during a statewide PCG meeting in fiscal year 2004 now being used in the development of curriculum for advanced training of all CPS supervisors. The video is also used in presentations conducted by the Parent Collaboration Group at statewide and national conferences.

7) Family Group Decision-Making  

During fiscal year 2006 additional Family Group Decision Making Specialists were hired and trained to lead the expansion of the FGDM process in every region.  Five of the FGDM Specialist positions were funded through CAPTA.  As a result, FGDM conferences are now being conducted in 70 counties across the state   Additional expansion of FGDM was accomplished by reassigning and training of PPT conveners as FGDM facilitators to the FGDM program.

8)  Best Practices  

During fiscal year 2006, Best Practice Initiatives Specialists, working with State Office, identified specific projects needing attention.  Several major initiatives were undertaken to assist with CPS Reform.  One major project is referred to as the Kinship Initiative.   Both Best Practice Initiatives Specialists have been involved in this project.  The Best Practice Initiatives Specialists have played a variety of roles including the development of policy, procedures, forms and training for the kinship initiative disseminated across the state in March 2006.  Other best practice initiatives identified and begun within the year include the following: 

  • Development of staff training on best practices with regard to visitation and reunification protocols.   This training was delivered to staff in Region 8 and shared with the Basic Skills Development Training Council for inclusion in statewide training.
  • Development and delivery of staff training on best practices for Family Based Safety Services workers in Region 8.
  • Participation in Family Focus, Training Council and Outsourcing Initiatives by serving on committees for the CPS Reform Project.
  • Participation in planning for the expansion of Family Group Decision Making through the Family Focus subcommittee of the Texas State Strategy.
  • Participation in planning for training for Human Services Technicians (HST).  Development of specialized HST Visitation training that was tested in Region 8.
  • Participation in activities to support the respective regions, including community committees and internal CPS committees with a focus on best practices.
  • Revision of CPS policy for the Outsourcing Initiative. 

Identify the activities that the State intends to implement with its CAPTA State grant funds and any changes in activities for FY 2007

1) Evaluation of Legislative Initiatives 

The Evaluation of Legislative Initiatives Project responds to priorities (1), (4) and (7) in the CAPTA Amendments. 

Goal and Objectives

Project goals and objectives address Section B, (1) of the CAPTA Amendments of 1996:  “the intake, assessment, screening, and investigation of reports of abuse and neglect.”  The goal of the project is to continue to evaluate both legislative and department initiatives. The following objectives were designed to support the project goal for fiscal year 2007. 

  1. Implement and evaluate the changes made to the intranet-based risk assessment instrument as part of CPS reform.
  2. Complete the evaluation of the Family Group Decision-Making Initiative.
  3. Complete the evaluation of the Kinship Care Project
  4.  Evaluate Disproportionality and Disproportionality remediation efforts in CPS. 

Approach

The first objective is tied to both CPS’ ongoing efforts to reduce the incidence of children at risk of abuse/neglect and of serious injury and death and CPS reform efforts.  As part of those efforts, models of safety and risk have been reviewed and a national expert on safety has helped revise CPS’ intranet based risk assessment instrument to include safety.  Because the instrument no longer retains its original psychometric properties, testing will need to occur in order to determine the worth of the new instrument.  The new instrument will need to be tested for reliability, translation validity and criterion validity.  In addition, efficiency, influence and accessibility will need to be assessed. 

The second and third objectives will be met through standard procedures of evaluation.  The final phase of the evaluation of Family Group Decision-Making involves modeling the process of Family Group Decision Making Conferences relative to Permanency Planning Team controls.  The final report will be provided in the Fall of 2006. The Kinship Care Project involves assessing the costs of the program relative to controls.  Additionally, support and satisfaction will need to be assessed.  An initial report will be prepared in the Fall of 2006, however, further analyses may be needed later in the year due to the potential of low numbers of participants early in the initiation of the program. 

Work on the fourth objective is already under way.  Initial analyses indicate disproportionate numbers of African Americans are reported to CPS relative to their numbers in the population.  Analyses also indicate that African Americans and Hispanics may be underserved and, once in care, exit more slowly from it under some conditions.  These analyses have taken into account a number of variables (e.g., poverty, age etc.) but have failed to take into account the risk of harm to a child.  One component of this evaluation is to evaluate the relationship between risk and other variables that the literature suggests co-occur with it (e.g., poverty, race/ethnicity and neglect).  A second component is to evaluate the impact of Program efforts in two pilot sites.  A description of the program has been written and an evaluation implementation report will be provided in Fall 2006.  An initial report on outcome measures will be provided in August 2007. 

The expected products are:

  • More standardized and structured assessment and decision-making at investigation.
  • Improved outcomes for families and children.
  • A reduction in disproportionate numbers of African Americans and Hispanics in the CPS system. 

Budget     

Total funds requested for the ELI Project for the coming fiscal year is $ 180, 847.

1 FTE Program Specialist V

            Salary  $43,062

            Fringe $ 9, 824

            Longevity $     

            Total   $52, 886

1 FTE Program Specialist V

            Salary  $43,062

            Fringe $  9,824

            Longevity   $    

            Total $52, 886

1 FTE Research Specialist IV

            Salary $39,609

            Fringe $   9, 353

            Longevity $   2,400

            Total    $51, 362 

Temporary Staff   $ 12,441 

Equipment for Databases or Licenses   $11,272 

Grand Total $ 180,847 

**The current Speedware license is limited to a total of 25 persons using the system at any given point in time.  If Speedware is to be used as the primary mechanism for deploying data to field staff, an upgrade to the current Speedware license is recommended.  This total does not include expanded access to Speedware. 

2) Disproportionality 

The Disproportionality Project responds to priorities (3) and (12) of the CAPTA amendments.  

Goals and Objectives

The first step in addressing the over-representation of African American children and families in the child welfare system is to increase awareness of the issue among CPS staff.  The implementation of Family Group Decision-Making and Kinship Initiatives has been instrumental in raising staff awareness of the importance of giving families a voice in the child welfare system.  This pilot project will further define the need for increased sensitivity with CPS staff in working collaboratively with families, whatever their racial or cultural backgrounds.  Additionally, considerable effort will be made through this pilot to reach out to community partners in an effort to both understand and mitigate the factors that contribute to disproportionality in all aspects of child welfare.  CPS will seek consultation from national experts in organizing, documenting and evaluating this work. 

Approach

That disproportionality in the Texas child welfare system exists is not disputed.  What remains unsolved is “who, what, when, where, and why.”  Who are the children most impacted?  What are the reasons for the disparity – are they social, cultural, political, policy-related, programmatic, or a combination of factors?  What needs to be changed to correct the imbalance?  When and where in the continuum of protective services does disproportionality begin?  Why do so many people seem to ignore the situation?  Where does Texas begin?  

The approach of this project is to begin to respond to these and other questions through the creation of disproportionality specialists in six counties that child welfare data indicates have the highest percentages of disproportionality.  

One disproportionality director housed in state office supervises these specialists.  The disproportionality director coordinates statewide activities; develops grants as necessary to support further endeavors; liaisons with program evaluation staff; attends, develops and delivers training as identified; and supports the engagement of community partners in the process of issue identification.  The community-based disproportionality specialists participate in these activities as directed, while serving at the local level to identify community resources.  These community resources will focus on mitigating circumstances that disproportionally bring African American children into care, while simultaneously promoting cultural sensitivity among CPS staff.  

As contributing factors are identified, these staff will actively work to both increase awareness of and control for factors that create the identified disparities.  Each site will test the services, resources and changes that are effective in lowering disproportionality in order to more effectively expand this work to other areas of the state.  By changing the CPS culture to be more sensitive to families, whatever their racial or cultural background, it is hypothesized that families will feel more empowered to become more verbal regarding their needs and expectations; and, in that process, find greater equity of service.  CPS will continue to partner with Casey Family Programs to work in the pilot sites and has submitted an application to participate in the Disproportionality Breakthrough Series sponsored by Casey Family Programs. 

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes of this project are  

  • greater sensitivity to the unique needs of the families CPS serves,
  • enhanced understanding of the dynamics that contribute to disparate outcomes for families,
  • identification and elimination of policies and procedures within CPS that contribute to disproportionality, and
  • increased community participation in the provision of services that prevent children from entering foster care.

Budget

In addition to the identified director position, successful completion of this project will require costs that include costs for staff training, travel, community out-reach (including stipends for community members to mentor families involved in the child welfare system) and program development. 

 Disproportionality Director 

            Salary:           

            One Division Administrator Level (1 B16)            $70,297

            Fringe          $  13,542

            Longevity       $2,400

            Subtotal             $86,239  

            Staff training            $9,000

            Travel (in and out of state)            $ 8,000

            Out-reach and program development ($8,000 per site)            $64,000

            Consultation            $20,000                       

Total          $ 187,239  

3) Children With Disabilities Project

The Children with Disabilities Project responds to priorities (7), (10 a and b) and  (14) of the CAPTA Amendments. 

Goals and Objectives

The overall goal of the project will be to:

  • Provide consultation to CPS staff during INV and FBSS stages; and
  • Coordinate healthcare services for children with special healthcare needs in substitute care.

 Objectives related to this goal are:

  • Promote the identification of children needing this service.
  • Assess the special needs of children related to their physical or developmental conditions.
  • Serve as a liaison with the newly created healthcare delivery system and healthcare providers.
  • Provide consultation and training for CPS staff and caregivers related to the special needs of these children.
  • Promote placement in the least restrictive setting.
  • Promote and support permanency for children with highly specialized placement needs.
  • Maintain and expand collaborations among community agencies and organizations that serve children with special healthcare needs as well as develop and identify resources to meet their needs.
  • Develop a health-related resource and reference library for caregivers of children with special healthcare needs and CPS staff.
  • Assist with statewide efforts to improve healthcare to children in substitute care.
  • Assist with efforts to provide oversight of psychotropic medication use by children in foster care.

 Tasks to Meet Objectives:

  • Develop criteria for identifying children with special healthcare needs in each region.
  • Develop criteria for identifying cases in which nurse consultation is needed during investigation and the provision of family based safety services in each region.
  • Educate CPS staff about this service.
  • Coordinate with the healthcare providers to assess the special needs of the children and their caregivers.
  • Assist with transition to the new healthcare delivery model.
  • Provide consultation and training to CPS staff related to the healthcare needs of individual children.
  • Collaborate with local, state and federal agencies and programs and healthcare providers that serve children with special healthcare needs.
  • Assist caregivers and CPS staff in accessing appropriate services.
  • Develop and/or obtain health education materials and curriculum.
  • Conduct workshops seminars for caregivers and CPS staff related to chronic physical and developmental conditions.
  • Gather resources for a reference library in each region. 

Approach  

A project director will develop systems and coordinate efforts to achieve the goals and objectives of the program.  These efforts will include creation of a team among Developmental Disability specialists and nurses to coordinate services and placements for children with special healthcare needs.

 Nurses will:

  • Provide assessment, consultation, training, and information and referral resources to CPS staff and birth, foster and adoptive families.
  • Assess the healthcare needs of children and caregivers.
  • Coordinate with healthcare providers and CPS staff to access needed services.
  • Help access needed healthcare services.
  • Provide input into the development of service/care plans.
  • Provide individual training to CPS staff and caregivers related to the healthcare needs of specific children, as needed.
  • Assist with statewide efforts to improve healthcare to children in substitute care.
  • Assist with efforts to provide oversight of psychotropic medication use by children in foster care.
  • Provide/facilitate provision of seminars for CPS staff and children’s caregivers.
  • Gather health education materials for regional resources library. 

Benefits 

As a result of project activities, children and their caregivers will have greater access to healthcare and other supportive services.  CPS caseworkers will better understand the healthcare needs of children and be more successful in accessing available services.  The addition of health-related information will enhance the quality of placement services and permanency planning efforts for children in substitute care as nurses will be available for case consultation and training.  

  • Caregivers will be better equipped to provide care for children in their own homes. In addition, well-trained foster and adoptive parents will be available for these children.  More children with special healthcare needs will be provided stable family environments with birth, foster, and adoptive families.  Coordination will occur among Developmental Disability specialists and nurses.
  •  An additional benefit will be the interaction between CPS staff and the medical community and students.  This bridge to the health care system and the mutual understanding of the issues from a medical and social worker’s point of view will result in more comprehensive services to our families and children.  

Budget   

1 State Office Project Director (Program Specialist)

Salary

$45,222

Fringe

$10,118

Travel 

$  2000

Subtotal

$57,340

 

Statewide Information Special Project

Books, Videos Related to Children with
Special Health Care Needs for Statewide Distribution    $   4,000

Total              $ 61,340

                      

4) Educational and Developmental Disabilities Specialists

 The Educational and Developmental Disability Specialist Project responds to priorities (3), (7), (10 a & b), and (14) of the CAPTA Amendments. 

Goals and Objectives

The overall goal of this project is to establish an education specialist and a disability specialist in each DFPS region, who can provide a comprehensive range of services to meet the complex educational needs of DFPS foster children, as well as specialized needs of children with developmental disabilities.  The education specialist focuses on education issues with the goal of improving educational outcomes for youth in care.  The following are the objectives to meet this goal.  

The Educational Specialist will provide case consultation to DFPS staff by: 

  • Implementation of a statewide education tracking procedure and format through the use of the Education Portfolio;
  • Development of a system to track the education progress of youth in care and ensure they all have an Education Portfolio;
  • Information and referral services regarding education-related resources;
  • Collaboration with school districts, substitute caregivers and CPS to promote educational stability;
  • Identification of existing specialized placement resources and coordinate with placement team to ensure the educational needs are addressed;
  • Assistance in case planning as it pertains to identifying specific educational needs and services through individual case staffings and Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings;
  • Offering educational information and referral services in unit meetings, basic skills development training, new worker regional training, and regional educational issues based training for tenured workers; and  
  • Offering educational information to schools, substitute caregivers, and the youth in care to ensure accurate and appropriate services are being provided. 

The Developmental Disability Specialist will provided consultation to DFPS staff by: 

  • Assist with statewide efforts to improve healthcare to children in substitute care.
  • Assist with efforts to provide oversight of psychotropic medication use by children in foster care.
  • Provide input into the development of service/care plans.
  • Information and referral services regarding developmental disability related resources;
  • Identification of existing specialized placement resources and coordinate with placement team to ensure the developmental disability needs are addressed;
  • Assistance in case planning as it pertains to identifying specific developmental disability needs and services through individual case staffings; and
  • Offering developmental disability information and referral services in unit meetings, basic skills development training, new worker regional training, and regional educational issues based training for tenured workers.  

The Educational Specialist and Developmental Disability Specialists assist in case planning activity as it pertains to identifying specific educational or developmental disability needs and services to meet those needs, including individual case consultations with DFPS staff and attending permanency planning meetings and Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings as needed. 

The Educational Specialist and Developmental Disability Specialist represent DFPS at regional planning meetings to provide input regarding the communication and collaboration process and agreements between agencies and organizations involved in educational planning and/or service coordination for children with disabilities.  

The Educational Specialists develop and provide educational training curriculum to CPS staff, schools and foster parents.  They cover the importance of education stability and securing and maintaining accurate and current education records.  The education specialists are presenting the Education Portfolio to all involved parties.  The Education Portfolio is an individual means used statewide to track education records from placement to placement, which will ensure correct education placement and services.  The training may be accomplished through: 

  • Unit meetings,
  • Parent Resource for Information Development and Education (PRIDE) seminar sessions (adding education issues to the training),
  • Surrogate parent training,
  • Foster Parent support group meetings and conferences
  • Meetings and presentations to school districts and Education Services Centers 

The Educational Specialist consults with CPS staff regarding education questions and/or concerns about children on their caseload.  Education Specialists also attend school Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings, when needed, to help the surrogate parent advocate plan for the educational needs of children and assist in the development of Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) to ensure correct education placement and services are being provided.  

The Developmental Disability Specialists complete the following duties:

  •  Consult and/or participate in:
    • Service planning,
    • Circles of support,
    • Discharge planning, and/or
    • Other appropriate venues;
  • Facilitate transition of children out of institutions by:
    • Attending treatment team meetings at the institutions,
    • Presenting cases to residential childcare providers at quarterly matching meetings, etc.,
    • Developing transition plans when providers are located;
    • Advocating for Medicaid waiver slots for children with mental retardation who are admitted to state hospitals.
  • Place children with developmental disabilities on appropriate Medicaid waiver lists;
  • Liaison with mental retardation authorities and facilitate mental retardation services;
  • Facilitate Determination of Mental Retardation for children with suspected mental retardation;
  • Complete and maintain current service levels for children on their caseloads;
  • Provide training to staff and foster parents;
  • Facilitate referrals of appropriate aging out children to the Department of Aging and Disability Services for guardianship;
  • Facilitate referrals of children with developmental disabilities who are aging out or are placed in an Intermediate Care Facility serving persons with Mental Retardation, state schools, Home and Community Based Services, and nursing homes to SSI coordinators for SSI application; and
  • Complete permanency planning instruments as required by State Bill 368 and HHSC. 

Approach

There are twenty full-time equivalents (FTE) staff associated with this project.  There will be a full time position for the Educational Specialist, as well as a Developmental Disability Specialist in each region of the state, except for Region 2/9 which will share one full time Educational Specialist and one full time Developmental Disability Specialist.  These twenty specialists will work in coordination with the designated state office specialists.  

The educational specialists are experienced in working with several facets of the educational system, including gifted and talented programs, special education programs, section 504 services, mainstream education, and extracurricular activities.  Education Specialists have to be knowledgeable about the Texas Education Code, the Texas Administrative Code, Individuals with Disability Education Act (P.L. 108-446, IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to be able to adequately advocate for the educational needs of youth in care. 

The developmental disability specialists are experienced in working with children with developmental disabilities.  These experienced specialists will provide consultation, training, information and referral services and resources, and advocacy to assist CPS staff in providing services to children with these special needs. 

Benefits

As a result of project activities, all children in care will have a well trained Education advocate who will promote education stability and monitor academic progress and a Disability advocate to promote access to services in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities. 

With specialist support, knowledge, skill, resources and the Education Portfolio, CPS will be able to ensure accurate education placement and services to children, thus improving their education performance and outcomes.   This project will also improve school enrollment time, facilitate the child being involved in their education programming, improve communication between CPS and schools, and the foster parents and schools. 

This project’s goals and objectives will assist CPS collaboration with HHSC and the state Senate Bill 368 workgroup members to move children from institutional placements into family-based placements, and more fully comply with the Olmstead decision. 

Budget  

Developmental Disability Program Specialists:  10 worker level staff

            Salary:                    $395,086

            Fringe                      $  93,389

            Longevity                $    8,160

Educational Program Specialists:  10 worker level staff

            Salary:                   $395,086

            Fringe                    $  93,389

            Longevity              $    8,160

            Total                    $ 993,270    

5) Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards 

The Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards (TCCWB) responds to priority (11) in the CAPTA amendments.

 BACKGROUND

In 1931, in response to the Great Depression, Texas enacted a law that created the Division of Child Welfare Services and placed this office in the State Board of Control.  The law allowed county commissioner courts to appoint boards to coordinate community services for the protection of children.  A small staff within the Division of Child Welfare Services was employed to help counties create Child Welfare Boards (CWB).  

During these early days of child welfare services in Texas, the county CWB often provided service to families and children themselves, with consultation and supervision from the professional staff of the state Division of Child Welfare Services.  The State Department of Public Welfare assumed state responsibility for child welfare when it was created in 1939. 

In 1976, regions began to form Regional Child Welfare Advisory Councils.  Early in 1978, the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards (TCCWB) was organized. 

In 1979, the Texas legislature appropriated state funds for foster care services.  Today CPS is a state administered program, although many counties provide some level of funding for foster children’s needs.  Several counties also provide funding for additional state supervised CPS staff positions.  One of the responsibilities given to local CWBs is the oversight of county expenditures for child welfare services.

 Child Welfare Boards were surveyed by the TCCWB in 2002, and 103 responses were received from the 200 counties with Child Welfare Boards.  The survey identified local assistance provided by local boards that supplement efforts of the agency.  The 2002 survey results reflected 8,576 hours of volunteer time from 2,735 volunteers across the state.  Additionally, county funds through the Child Welfare Boards provided approximately $20,642,016 for the needs of children served by CPS. 

 Child Welfare Boards are involved in a broad spectrum of long-standing as well as new, cutting-edge program development.  As indicated above, they provide significant support using both public and private sector resources to directly ensure proper care and services to foster children and their families; to meet acute needs of children and families through establishment and support of local resource rooms and caseworker sponsorships; to launch prevention and awareness programs that run the gamut from family support services and how to report suspected child abuse/neglect to adoption awareness and recruitment; to secure additional local service resources in the areas of evaluation and treatment; to support children who age out of foster care, etc.  Most recently, many Child Welfare Boards have been involved in supporting family group decision-making and kinship care initiatives across the state.

 VISION AND GOALS

TheTexas Council of Child Welfare Boards (TCCWB) is a statewide organization comprised of representatives from local and regional child welfare boards.  The purpose of the TCCWB is to provide leadership through a comprehensive, cohesive network of child welfare boards in order to support services to vulnerable children and to promote the prevention of child abuse and neglect to assure that all children live in a loving, nurturing, safe environment. 

The TCCWB represents local Child Welfare Boards through its membership of approximately 30 representatives from all eleven regional councils in Texas.  The regional councils are composed of representatives of the more than 200 local Child Welfare or Child Protective Services Boards appointed by county commissioners courts.  TCCWB officers and members advocate for children through encouraging legislation to provide services to abused and neglected children and to prevent child abuse; working with CPS staff on programs that meet children's needs; and by networking with other agencies and organizations to provide the best care for abused and neglected children, while at the same time, striving to prevent such abuse and neglect through public awareness and joint cooperation. 

The TCCWB meets three times a year to develop statewide programs that advocate for child abuse prevention and services.  The TCCWB has three standing committees:  education, advocacy, and awards.  There are also special committees, or ad hoc committees, appointed by the President of the TCCWB.  The TCCWB is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit organization. 

The vision of the proposed TCCWB Project is to galvanize and strengthen the structure of local, regional and state child welfare boards such that the TCCWB leads the way in statewide support, technical assistance, and public/private advocacy for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

 The goals of the proposed TCCWB Project include the following: 

  • Develop a model of local, regional, and state child welfare board organization that can be used nationally to promote public/private partnerships.
  • Assist local and regional child welfare boards to more effectively carry out their direct and indirect service and support activities that reflect the changing nature of CPS services in Texas - as programs expand use of family group decision-making, kinship care, direct parent-to-parent mentoring and education, advocacy to enhance child and family well-being outcomes particularly in the areas of education, disability services, and mental health, and outsourcing of foster care and case management.
  • Develop a consistent, statewide system to inventory, tabulate, and analyze resources developed by local child welfare boards and used for prevention and intervention services.
  • Develop models and methods to leverage and grow resources from both the public and private sectors to increase the amount and quality of services available to address child abuse and neglect locally and statewide.
  • Fund a portion of an Executive Director’s salary for the TCCWB to facilitate establishment of the position.
  • Decrease the amount of funding provided by DFPS to the TCCWB while increasing funding through grants, donations, fund-raising, etc.
  • Fund the development of a comprehensive, updated TCCWB and local child welfare board operations and policy manual.

Fund a statewide training conference available to all child welfare board staff and volunteers across Texas. 

APPROACH

The TCCWB consists of 27 voting members, four members-at-large (non-voting).  State office staff, regional staff, and guests from the foster parent association and other interested organizations work in partnership with the council and may attend the business meetings held three to four times yearly, in Austin.  The officers of the TCCWB are President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Parliamentarian.  All members – officers and delegates – are volunteers.

The legislation creating Child Welfare Boards is located in the Texas Family Code, Section 264.005, entitled, County Child Welfare Boards.  

County Child Welfare Boards and DFPS have a relationship established though contracts between a County Commissioners Court and DFPS.  This contract spells out responsibilities of the Commissioners’ Court and of DFPS to one another as well as to the community and to the families and children served. 

 In every DFPS region, there is staff dedicated to interact with the local boards at a variety of levels and for varied purposes – community initiative specialists, CPS unit supervisors and caseworkers, and CPS regional administrative staff.  

The TCCWB has sought for several years to expand its funding base beyond what is allocated by DFPS ($17,600 per year for meetings, prevention, advocacy, and newsletter activities).  In order to expand its funding base and revenue-raising capabilities, the TCCWB has made several applications for grant opportunities available to non-profit service entities.  However, these applications have been unsuccessful.  And the consistent feedback from grantors is that they are reluctant to provide resources to an entity that does not have an executive director structure in order to ensure accountability and legacy operations.  DFPS proposes that the TCCWB will be a stronger, more effective service, support, and advocacy entity if it is able to secure operating revenue independent of DFPS.  DFPS is thus proposing that the TCCWB become a financially independent entity using the primary mechanism of establishing an Executive Director/Board of Directors operating structure. 

DFPS would commit to funding a portion of an Executive Director’s salary in order to coordinate the efforts of the TCCWB.  The Executive Director’s duties would include: 

Develop a model of local, regional, and state child welfare board organization that can be used nationally to promote public/private partnerships.

  • Provide technical assistance, direction, and guidance to local and regional CWBs to effectively develop their organizations.
  • Develop a consistent, statewide system to inventory, tabulate, and analyze resources developed by local child welfare boards and used for prevention and intervention services.
  • Develop models and methods to leverage and grow resources from both the public and private sectors to increase the amount and quality of services available to address child abuse and neglect locally and statewide.
  • Oversee the development of a comprehensive TCCWB and local child welfare board operations and policy manual.
  • Coordinate the annual statewide training conference for at least 125 participants.
  • Annually coordinate three meetings of the TCCWB and one meeting of the Executive Committee.
  • Develop independent, consistent funding streams to operate the TCCWB and fund its service, advocacy, and prevention projects. 

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

Cooperation and collaboration locally and statewide will be improved; an accurate accounting of donated and earned funds from both the public and private sectors will be developed; accurate and consistent collection of data regarding funding and expenditures at all levels will increase the accountability and confidence in the operations of Child Welfare Boards; CPS caseworkers will experience greater community support; clients will have access to a wider variety of services at the local level; child abuse prevention efforts will be expanded statewide; and funding for the TCCWB will come exclusively from its own fund raising activities.  

DFPS proposes to continue funding the TCCWB, in addition to the below proposed budget, at $17,600 during fiscal year 2006 of this grant, at $8,800 the second year in state fiscal year 2007, and no allocation during state fiscal year 2008.  

BUDGET  

Total CAPTA funds requested for FY 2006 are $47,000. 

1 Part time equivalent (PTE) Executive Director Position 

Salary

                                         $25,000

Travel

                                         $  7,000

Subtotal

                                         $32,000

 

Development of a TCCWB operations and policy manual  $3,000

Development and distribution of a statewide accounting instrument               $2,000

Annual Conference – speakers, meeting space, travel   $10,000

GRAND TOTAL:   $47,000

6) Parent Collaboration Group

The Parent Collaboration Group responds to priority (3) in the CAPTA Amendments.

Background

The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 encourages states to collaborate with external entities to improve services in the Child Protective Services System, and to provide an opportunity for external entities to have input in the IV-B State Plan.  DFPS launched the Parent Collaboration Group during fiscal year 2002 to provide a venue for gathering and incorporating parental feedback to enhance child protective services.  The Parent Collaboration Group provides information to staff regarding what parents experience as recipients of CPS services, and what can be improved.  Additionally, the information gained from parental input is used to improve practice and address policy issues. 

Mission

The Parent Collaboration Group is a partnership between CPS and parents who are, or have been, recipients of services from CPS.  The mission of the Parent Collaboration Group is to:

  • Provide stakeholder input to the agency regarding policy development, and CPS services, 
  • provide recommendations to the agency regarding how services may be improved to children and families,
  • provide training opportunities to workers regarding the parent perspective, and
  • provide support to parents and function as a catalyst to link parents and the agency in partnerships that encompass statewide policy development as well as day-to-day casework practice.

Goals

The Parent Collaboration Group Project goals are:

  • Identify service gaps to families and children,
  • Identify what services are working and should continue,
  • Identify areas of policy that need improvement,
  • Provide an avenue for parents to make recommendations for policy changes,
  • Identify ways parents can be instrumental in improving a caseworker’s skills in relating to parents,
  • Fund the travel, per diem, and child-care expenses of the parent volunteers to attend a statewide meeting at least 3 times a year,
  • Provide assistance, direction, and guidance to the meetings to effectively develop regional Parent Collaboration Groups,
  • Establish parent liaison advocates who will work as partners with caseworkers and families.

Objectives

The objectives of the Parent Collaboration Group include the following:

  • Increase the number of parent liaisons for both advisory and practice initiatives in fiscal years 2007-2008,
  • Develop a structure for CPS-Parent partnerships in policy and practice components that will become a vital element of local regional and state operations,
  • Institute the Parent Collaboration Group advisory model throughout the state,
  • Increase father involvement.
  • Improve the skills, qualifications, and availability of individuals providing services to children and families, and
  • Distribute the message to staff and parents regarding the value of a family voice

Approach

Pilots 

The Parent Collaboration Group model is one in which DFPS staff partner with local parent liaisons to enhance services and communication between the agency and families who receive CPS services.  The Parent Collaboration Group model provides for co-leadership at the state level by a staff person from state office and a parent who is a former recipient of CPS services.  CPS regional management selects regional CPS staff and parent liaison representatives to the state Parent Collaboration Group.

To meet the objective of instituting a Parent Collaboration Group model throughout the state, DFPS is committed to replicating the state model in each region.  This model is currently in the second year of development in regions 03, 07, and 9.  The next two years of the Parent Collaboration Group project include the full operation of the 3 new sites.  During this first year of operations, the 3 new pilot sites have demonstrated that they learned from the experiences of the first three pilot sites (Regions 06, 08, and 10), and have been able to move forward more quickly with their pilot initiatives.

The Well Being Outcome was a specific area of weakness identified in the results of the first Texas Child and Family Service Review.  Parent Collaboration Group participants will provide input on how the agency can improve the well being of children, specifically improving the physical, mental, and educational services provided to children, and how fathers may be more involved in case planning and service delivery for their children.

Major Obstacles

Biological parents, both fathers and mothers, involved in the child protective services system frequently come from low- or middle-income families and are unable to afford travel and day care expenses to attend statewide and regional meetings.  In an effort to facilitate a parent participation in statewide and regional groups, the agency must attempt to remove barriers preventing the parent from attending the meetings.

A major barrier to the development of regional, non-pilot site Parent Collaboration Groups has been the agency’s inability to provide initial payments to parents to absorb expenses incurred while attending meetings.  Many parents have to request time off from work and may lose up to one day’s pay depending on the type of parent education/advocacy activities are performed.  The lack of up-front funds requires participants to pay lodging, travel, food, and day care expenses out of their household funds, and then wait 21 to 60 days, or longer, to be reimbursed.

Parents have expressed difficulty engaging child care services for their children during the days they need to be away from home; and relay that child caregivers request that parents pay the $30 per day per child in advance.  Parents have also expressed concerns relating to the lack of resources to purchase meals while away from home. In addition, parents are required to pay for professional healthcare of their children such as nurses to provide injections.

To abate the aforementioned obstacles, continued funding from CAPTA will be used to provide stipends of $50 to parent participants to attend local meetings in the pilot regions.  If the $50 stipends are not enough to cover parent travel expenses, the parent may request reimbursement for the remainder of the travel, childcare, meal or parking expenses not covered by the $50. 

New Casework Paradigm

The State Parent Collaboration Group suggest that CPS take this project to the next level of parent advocates as partners with CPS and parents in the casework process.   The approaches identified by the State Parent Collaboration Group and CPS to implement this new paradigm include:

  • Develop a profile of who would make a good parent advocate;
  • Establish protocols for parent advocates regarding:
    • Training,
    • supervision,
    • Identification of any legal issues related to Parent Collaboration Group members, and
    • Linkages among Parent Collaboration Group members, CASA, attorneys, parents, etc.
  • Develop a job description for parent advocate volunteers regarding their roles and responsibilities;
  • Develop a job description for agency liaisons and volunteer supervisors regarding roles and responsibilities;
  • Use parent liaisons at parent support groups, staff meetings, and as consultants on cases;
  • Develop flyers about parent liaisons for workers to distribute to families;
  • Develop an orientation video by parents for parents regarding what to expect when involved in the CPS system;
  • Educate parents on the foster care system;
  • Explore opportunities for parental involvement when education issues arise while child (ren) are in CPS care; and
  • Place emphasis on approaches that increase father involvement.   

Methodology

The State Parent Collaboration Group will continue to meet at least three times a year.  Regional pilot teams are expected to meet periodically, but no less than quarterly according to needs and resources.  State Parent Collaboration Group participants will engage in discussion of practices relevant to the state’s child protective services system.  Parent representatives will identify those practices that work effectively and those that are problematic, and develop recommendations for enhancement to the current delivery system.

The state level Parent Collaboration Group coordinator will provide feedback and recommendations from the Regional and state Parent Collaboration Groups to CPS management and program specialists regarding service gaps, and casework practices that need improvement.

Best Practices Specialists and regional parent liaisons will work on developing parent advocates at the local level.  Program specialists and parent representatives at the state level will support the new paradigm.  Implementing this methodology along with the approaches outlined above will lay the foundation for achieving the goal of establishing parent liaison advocates statewide who work as partners with caseworkers and families.  State office staff will organize and facilitate workgroups of staff and parents to develop this project together.

Description of Activities 

The Parent Collaboration Group provides a mechanism to include biological parents in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the CPS program.  This initiative encourages collaboration with clients who are affected by the CPS service delivery system and provides a unique perspective on how to improve services to families and children.  For fiscal year 2007, the plan is to continue the statewide Parent Collaboration Group, to provide support and technical assistance to three additional pilot regions, and to obtain input from parents regarding how to improve well-being for children receiving services from CPS.

Activities for fiscal years 2007 – 2008:

  • Develop a profile of who would make a good parent advocate;
  • Establish protocols for parent advocates:
  • Encourage development of regional Parent Collaboration Group newsletters that focus on local resources.
  • Encourage continued distribution and use of Parent Collaboration Group training video to internal and external partners.
  • Develop additional training tools from the parent perspective to be used by Child Protective Services staff and others involved with the child welfare system
  • Provide trainings to staff from a parents perspective
  • Continued development of the three regional Parent Collaboration Group pilots that will:
    • Review practices and provide input,
    • propose recommendations for policy changes in the CPS system,
    • support a partnership between parents and the agency,
    • assist parents in understanding the various processes of CPS, and
    • provide parent access to a standardized survey so that parents may provide their feed back on a statewide basis.
  • Implement the approaches of the new casework paradigm through workgroups that will lay the foundation for a statewide parent advocate program in non-pilot regions.

Expected Outcomes

  • Improve cooperation and collaboration between parents and the agency,
  • Enhance CPS workers’ abilities to work with families effectively,
  • Increase father involvement in CPS activities, especially case planning,
  • Provide improved services that meet the individual needs of the families, and
  • Improve safety, permanency, and well being outcomes for children.

Budget        

To decrease barriers to parent participation at the state and regional levels, stipends will be paid to parents in addition to per diem reimbursement that the stipend does not cover. 

Quarterly Statewide Meetings:  The state Parent Collaboration Group operating budget for fiscal year 2007 is based on twenty-two parent liaisons, twelve DFPS liaisons, attending at least three state meetings.  The following budget is calculated at an attendance rate of at least two parents per region and one CPS liaison per region.

Regional Pilots:  These funds will be for the three new pilot sites to continue during fiscal years 2007-2008.  At the end of this funding period there should be at least six active regional sites across the state.  The regional pilot funds may be used for parent reimbursement for travel expenses, child-care, program planning supplies, or other appropriate expenses. 

New Casework Paradigm:  These funds will be for funding the travel expenses for one parent and Best Practices Specialist per district for 4 meetings a year to develop the foundation for a local Parent Advocate model with an estimated cost of $15,000.

Total for state Parent Collaboration Group, three new pilot sites, and Casework Paradigm is $61,372.

State PCG                                                                                                    

Lodging         $9,720

Meals             $6,480

Child Care      $5,400

Parking           $1,584

Taxi                $1,800

Airline, Mileage estimated     $18,888

Regional Pilots    $10,000

New Casework Paradigm      $7,500

Total                                     $61,372

7) Family Group Decision-Making

The Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) project responds to priorities (3), (5), (7) and (12) in the CAPTA Amendments.

Goals and Objectives

FGDM Conferences offered in all stages of service for all families as well as youth aging out of care.

Utilize FGDM conferences as one vehicle to address the overrepresentation of African American children in CPS system by encouraging more families to have a voice in the services and supports they receive.

Utilize FGDM to increase the number of children and youth living in kinship placements, decreasing the need for foster care.

Approach

The five CAPTA funded Family Group Decision-Making Specialists will continue to serve as the primary coordinators of all family group decision making conferencing activities within their regions.  The addition of state supported positions; purchase of service dollars for contract facilitation services, Casey Family Program support, and community engagement will enable FGDM to be further expanded during the coming year.  Building upon their experiences with implementation during fiscal years 2004, 2005 and 2006, the Family Group Decision-Making Specialists will oversee the training of new staff as well as the preparation of participating communities and staff.  FGDM will be expanded geographically and programmatically, as FGDM becomes our model for permanency planning for youth in foster care and transitional planning for youth about to exit to independent living.  Additionally, these staff will form core members of regionally based teams who will spearhead the agency’s efforts toward the cultural changes necessary to implement CPS Reform efforts.  Central to these reform efforts will be the shift to strengths-based, family-focused service delivery. 

Expected Outcomes

FGDM, as the primary mode of service planning for our families assures that families and stakeholders have a voice and a choice in the planning process to assure safety, permanency and well being of their related children. 

FGDM offers the chance for families with a wide variety of issues and at various stages of services to fully participate in order to discover their own strengths and utilize their abilities to maintain child safety independent of CPS intervention. 

FGDM conferencing facilitates more children being placed with relatives to ensure happier, better-adjusted children than if placed in foster care.

FGDM creates a broad-based change in the CPS culture allowing a more family-centered, culturally competent, and solution focused service model to permeate all service provisions.

FGDM process makes more progress on behalf of children possible when families and CPS staff are working together cooperatively.

FGDM serves to meet the ASFA outcomes related to safety, permanency, and well-being.

Budget      

Family Group Decision-Making:  5 program specialist IV level staff

Salary:
5FTE @ B12   $250,227

Fringe             $  53,886  

Longevity       $    8,640 

Budget total   $ 312,753                                                            

8)  Best Practices

The Best Practice Specialists respond to priorities (2) and (3) of the CAPTA amendments. 

Goals and Objectives

The primary goal for the Family Focus Best Practice project will be to identify and promulgate best practice models throughout the state to assist with the cultural shift required within the agency necessary to embrace a more family focused service delivery system. 

The primary goals of the positions will be to:

  • Assist in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the CPS program services.
  • Assist in the review and analysis of current policy and the evaluation of service delivery strategies to ensure family focused values and philosophy are being adhered to.
  • Assist in policy and program development to assure that services demonstrate best practice approaches that are family driven, strength based and culturally sensitive.

Approach

In order to have a comprehensive plan for utilization of these positions, 2 Best Practices positions will be placed within the Family Focus Division, 1 placed within the Permanency Division, all housed at state office. 

In an effort to partner with families at all levels, it is important to have family members involved in all aspects of the work. One position, the Parent Advocate Specialist position, will be a family member who has received services from CPS to give feedback that assists in the analysis of current policy and the evaluation of service delivery strategies.  A particular emphasis for this position will be to increase family skills in advocacy within the community in order to better access and remove barriers to community services.

Two positions will be Policy Specialists for the Family Focus and Permanency Divisions. By partnering with the Parent Specialist and other Family Focus and Permanency division staff, these two positions will focus on writing the policy that will ensure the family focus philosophy is woven throughout CPS policy and the CPS service system. Currently, CPS has had minimal attention given to the areas of substance abuse (particularly in the area of methamphetamines), children’s mental health, and domestic violence. These two positions will begin to assist the agency in addressing issues with the Family-focused, strength based approach as they relate to these areas.

Additionally, the two policy program specialists and the Parent Advocate position will emphasize and explore effective mechanisms to better engage fathers in the FGDM conferencing progress, in CPS services and in their own cases.

Budget

Salary  3 FTE: 2 Program Specialist V (Policy Spec) $ 78,647

1 Program Specialist III (Parent Spec)  $ 38,080

Fringe $ 27,771

Total   $ 144,498

Budget Recap of 2006 Special CAPTA Projects

 

Project Name         PAC                Amt. Requested       Priority

Eval. of Legislative Initiatives     827     $ 180,847     1,4,7

Children with Disabilities            824     $ 61,340        7,10a&b,14

ED/DD Specialists                       826     $ 993,270  3,7,10a&b,14

Parent Collaboration Group       823     $  61,372        3

Family Group Decision Making    822     $ 31 2,753     3,5,7,12

Best Practices Specialists           801     $ 14 4,498     2,3

Disproportionality                      828     $ 187,239        3,7

Texas Council of
     Child Welfare Boards                       $  47,000         11

Total:                                                     $1,988,319

Submit a copy of the annual report(s) from the citizen review panels and a copy of the State agency’s most recent response(s) to the panels and State and local child protective services agencies, as required by section 10(c)(6) of CAPTA.

Status Report as of September 2005

Program Purpose 

This report provides a summary of the activities by the Texas Citizen Review Teams from October 2004 to September 2005. It is being submitted as required by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Section 106 “Grants to States for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Treatment Programs” [42 U.S.C. 5106a]. This information will be included in the Title IV-B Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP) for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

Background 

There are multiple Citizen Review Teams (CRTs) as established by Texas Family Code (TFC §261.312). Four of these teams are designated as meeting the requirements of CAPTA, Appendix I. This report consists of information concerning the issues addressed only by the four CAPTA teams (CRT/CAPTA). All four teams were incorporated as CAPTA teams as of June 1, 1999. They are located in Amarillo (Region 01), Fort Worth (Region 03), Austin (Region 07), and El Paso (Region 10). These sites represent a mixture of urban and rural communities, and reflect the broad range of issues encountered by Child Protective Services (CPS) statewide.

Structure

As required, the CRT/CAPTA team members are volunteers who represent a broad spectrum of their communities. The members are nominated locally and approved by the DFPS Commissioner. CPS state office staff provide assistance in the areas of coordination, team development, training, and statewide distribution of team reviews and recommendations. Local CPS staff facilitate the exchange of case-specific information, ensure that confidentiality is maintained, perform the required background checks on nominated members, and arrange for meeting space and clerical support.

Reporting Process  

To coincide with the federal fiscal year reporting period, this report covers the period from October 2004 to September 2005. Information presented here consists of data gathered by the CRT/CAPTA teams. The teams utilize the Citizen Review Team Reporting form, a standardized form that was developed by CPS state office for the teams, put into use in April 2000, and modified to be user-friendlier in the automated environment in July 2003.

Agency Response 

CRT recommendations are placed on the DFPS website. In addition to the recommendations from the CRT/CAPTA teams, recommendations and concerns expressed by other, non-CAPTA teams are also on the website. The web page for the recommendations contains a CRT-specific mailbox that the public can use to comment on the recommendations. The webpage is located at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/CRT/.

State office program staff review CRT recommendations, and those recommendations are considered when developing policy, training, and procedure recommendations. CRT recommendations have been particularly important during this period of major change for CPS in Texas. They have been used as part of the DFPS/CPS Reform process and in formulating plans for meeting mandates developed by the Texas Legislature during their 2005 regular session.

The CRT/CAPTA teams often have recommendations for the local CPS field staff about actions they would like to see taken in a particular case. These case-specific recommendations are communicated during the CRT meeting to the CPS representatives who are present and are recorded on the standardized report form. Actions on case-specific recommendations are handled at the regional level.

Panel Activities

Although the CRT/CAPTA teams have not met as regularly as expected, members have been involved in the DFPS/CPS Reform efforts as participants in local and statewide workgroups.  Workgroups have focused on improving investigations through applying forensic methods and developing closer working relationships with law enforcement, improving outcomes for foster children through family group conferencing and disproportionality work, and providing a wider range of targeted services for children and families through partnerships with local service providers and community/business entities and with other state agencies such as the Department of State Health Services and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

The four CRT/CAPTA teams met as follows from October 2004 through September 2005:

  • Region 01 (Amarillo/Potter County) — November 2004 and April 2005 
  • Region 03 (Fort Worth/Tarrant County) — March 2005, May 2005, July 2005, and September 2005
  • Region 07 (Austin/Travis County) — none
  • Region 10 (El Paso/El Paso County) — none

The Region 01 CRT held reviews that were case-specific. The Tarrant County Team focused on organizational activities that resulted in distribution of a local CRT Manual in February 2005.  They also identified specific issues such as substance abuse and the quality of investigation casework about which to make recommendations. The El Paso and Travis County Teams are in the process of renewing efforts to review cases and submit recommendations.  The Travis County Team has met twice in fiscal year 2006 and has scheduled at least 2 additional meetings in fiscal year 2006.

Summary of Findings 

The findings of the CRT/CAPTA teams that have statewide implications (as opposed to recommendations aimed at local procedures and issues) are summarized below according to the formatting structure of the Citizen Review Team Reporting Form that is designed to cover Intake (INT), Investigations (INV), Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS), and Substitute Care (CVS) issues.

INV/near death (Region 01): The Amarillo/Potter County CRT had the following recommendations:

  • There needs to be a nationwide database for abuse/neglect reports that is accessible 24/7 by CPS staff in order to ensure that complete case histories are gathered.

INV/near death (Region 03): The Fort Worth/Tarrant County CRT had the following concerns:

  • CPS caseworkers need to be trained in forensic methods of investigation.
  • Safety planning when sexual abuse is the allegation needs to be strengthened to ensure protection of the children involved.
  • CPS needs to establish protocols for evaluation of children of methamphetamine users.
  • CPS needs to consider that when drugs are involved in the home, there is a likelihood that the extended family members are also involved with drugs; therefore, placement of children with relatives in these cases needs to be done carefully and with the assistance of law enforcement to ensure that drug involvement information on the nuclear and extended families is well researched.
  • Need to complete cases more quickly.  Concerns were expressed about protections of children during the investigation, which can last for several months.

FBSS (Region 03): The Fort Worth/Tarrant County CRT had the following recommendation:

  • CPS should use Mothers’ Groups when providing services in sexual abuse cases in order to support the protective parent.

CVS (Region 01): The Amarillo/Potter County CRT had the following recommendations:

  • Juvenile Probation does not serve older children in CVS when it would appear to be appropriate.
  • When parents live out of state, it is difficult to access services, for CPS to authenticate documents, and to ensure that services are completed.
  • Low cost or free legal services for relatives seeking custody are a needed resource to ensure permanency and protection for children.

CVS (Region 03): The Fort Worth/Tarrant County CRT had the following recommendations:

  • Staff need training on resources for children with autism.
  • Staff need training on working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and with tribes to ensure that cultural issues and tribal ties are addressed as required.
  • CPS should evaluate the levels of care designated for children of methamphetamine users.
  • Permanency for children is being delayed due to the requirement that parents identify potential placements for children, and the requirement that home studies be pursued on questionable relatives.

CPS Protection Initiatives 

The CRT/CAPTA teams identified the internal and external factors that may have affected the department’s ability to protect children.

The following chart describes CPS actions that relate to CRT-identified issues. Each initiative reflects CPS efforts to respond to and improve the quality of the services it provides to the children and families of Texas.

Region

Issue Addressed

Recommendation

CPS Initiative

Region 01

Inability to gather CPS information on families in order to accurately assess safety and risk to children and provide services across state lines.

There needs to be a nationwide database for abuse/neglect information that is accessible 24/7 by CPS staff in order to ensure that complete case histories are gathered, and that services are provided and completed appropriately.

Although a nationwide CPS database is not in the near future, states are able to communicate more effectively using information contained in electronic data systems and through modern communications. 
Improvements to the Interstate Compact for Children (ICPC) are ongoing at the state and national levels.  The CPS ICPC division has been restructured and technical improvements made.  CPS is involved in efforts at the state and national level to improve communications between states and to ensure that services are delivered timely and appropriately

 

Juvenile Probation does not serve older children in CVS when it would appear to be appropriate.

Staff need more education on how the Juvenile Probation system works and how it may be able to serve children involved with CPS

As part of CPS Reform, subject matter experts are being deployed to the regions, including those with expertise regarding the needs of older youth in the CPS system.  DFPS and the Health and Human Services Commission are working to improve communications and services among various state human services entities, including between CPS and Juvenile Probation.  Local staff are involved in community outreach, which includes contacts with local juvenile probation entities.

 

Low cost or free legal services for relatives seeking custody is a needed resource to ensure permanency and protection for children

None

The CPS Kinship Care initiative has components designed to address the need to develop resources for families that will help them secure legal resolution and promote stability for children.  Kinship Development workers address this issue directly with families as well as seek resources in the community to remedy individual situations. 
The Disproportionality Initiative has as a focus development of local resources to assist families as they navigate the legal system.

Region 03

Improve CPS investigations

CPS caseworkers need to be trained in forensic methods of investigation.

Training in forensic investigations has been developed and delivered to all new CPS investigators since 9/2005.  Advanced training is also being developed and should be available by late 2006. 
Joint protocols for investigation and training have been developed for CPS and law enforcement.  The CPS Division of Investigations is responsible for ensuring that these protocols are implemented across the state.
100 Special Investigators have been hired thus far; additional special investigators will be hired across the state in the next fiscal year.  These investigators have law enforcement investigation experience and are assigned to CPS field units to aid staff in applying forensic methods to their investigation skills, and to conduct investigations where those skills are especially critical.

 

Safety planning and sexual abuse

Safety planning when sexual abuse is the allegation needs to be strengthened to ensure protection of the children involved.

The Director of Investigations has formed a Sexual Abuse Intervention Workgroup made up of CPS staff and external partners, including the Council on Sex Offender Treatment (CSOT) to address how to improve CPS investigations and service delivery when sexual abuse is the allegation.  Particular attention is being paid to conducting effective investigations, developing realistic safety plans, and providing timely services aimed at protecting children and supporting the non-offending parent.  Contract management staff serve on this workgroup in order to strengthen the requirements for providers seeking evaluation and treatment contracts with CPS, especially in the area of treating families and individuals involved in sexual abuse cases.
Child Safety Specialists (CSS) from across the state have been trained by CSOT on the dynamics and characteristics of sexual predators and the protocols for treatment that must be followed by sex offender treatment providers. 
CSOT has also trained field staff in Region 11 regarding the above and is available to do so across the state.  In conjunction with CSOT training, CSS staff have developed curriculum regarding safety and case planning that is presented as a package along with the CSOT curriculum. 
The newly revamped Basic Skills Development (BSD) curriculum for new workers includes information specific to the dynamics of sexual abuse and issues to consider as workers go forward with safety and case planning.

 

Provide targeted, appropriate services to children exposed to methamphetamines

CPS needs to establish protocols for evaluation of children of methamphetamine users.
CPS should evaluate the levels of care designated for children of methamphetamine users.

In addition to the CPS State Office specialist assigned to address policy and procedures surrounding substance abuse issues, subject matter experts in are being hired for each region to assist staff in the areas of investigation, case planning, and assessment of children and adults in families where substance abuse is identified, and in accessing services for children and families.
Technical assistance at the state and regional levels include developing protocols and establishing communication with others in the community who interact with CPS clients affected by substance abuse.
Contacts have been established with DSHS to ensure that CPS clients eligible for substance abuse treatment services and supports are able to access those services statewide.

 

Work with law enforcement to ensure that family histories are complete regarding criminal/drug involvement before placement with relatives

CPS needs to consider that when drugs are involved in the home, there is a likelihood that the extended family members are also involved with drugs; therefore, placement of children with relatives in these cases needs to be done carefully and with the assistance of law enforcement to ensure that drug involvement information on the nuclear and extended families is well researched.

Protocols for joint CPS/Law enforcement investigations have been developed.  This includes sharing of information as appropriate.
When a child is removed from the home, CPS must conduct studies of potential relatives as prescribed in the Texas Family Code.  These studies include gathering information regarding criminal and CPS histories.  CPS has an electronic interface with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to run criminal history checks in the Texas database.  Protocols also allow local law enforcement to share information with CPS that may not have yet been entered into the DPS database.  Relatives seeking to be considered for placement of a child must sign releases that allow CPS to gather criminal history and CPS information from other states.
CPS is working with DPS to improve the electronic interface and to allow emergency access to criminal history information as needed.

 

Protection of children during an investigation

Need to complete cases more quickly.  Concerns were expressed about protections of children during the investigation, which can last for several months

During the 79th Legislative Session, additional staff were allocated to the investigation stage of the CPS program.  Hiring of that staff is on schedule.
BSD was re-vamped and expanded so that, in addition to curriculum that is presented to all new caseworkers during the first 6 weeks, staff are divided into specialties during the last 6 weeks of class.  Investigation staff are able to concentrate on developing skills and knowledge specific to their stage of service. 
Due to additional staff and the on boarding of regional screeners who ensure that cases that truly require CPS intervention are assigned, the average daily caseload for investigators is going down.  This shift in caseload will allow investigators to devote the time necessary to conduct thorough investigations in shorter periods of time.
Tablet PCs have been deployed in selected areas of the state.  Once the pilot period is complete, Tablet PCs will be distributed statewide to investigation caseworkers.  Even in the short period of time that the Tablet PCs have been in the field, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive regarding the efficiencies and time-savings experienced with this tool.  In 2007, the Tablet PCs will be equipped to operate the CPS IMPACT system so that staff can enter and retrieve data from that system without being in their home offices.

 

Providing appropriate services to protective parents when there are sexual abuse allegations

CPS should use Mothers Groups when providing services in sexual abuse cases in order to support the protective parent.

Mothers Groups and other interventions to support protective parents are preferred services when CPS seeks contracted services. 
The CSS staff in Region 11 have revived curriculum aimed at supporting protective caretakers – this curriculum is available for anyone to use. 
The Kinship Care Initiative uses various approaches to support protective caretakers – through contracted services, community-based services, and direct casework intervention.
Support of the protective caretaker is a primary focus of the Sexual Abuse Intervention Workgroup.  Contract management staff is being encouraged to emphasize support of protective caretakers in their procurement processes.
Training developed in conjunction with CSOT emphasizes safety planning and case plan development that focuses in on support for the protective caretaker.

 

Provide better services to children with autism

Staff need training on resources for children with autism.

This recommendation is being sent to the State Office Specialist who deals with developmental disabilities.  That specialist can ensure that the recommendation is disseminated to the regional Development Disability specialists.
CPS is hiring nurses in each region to serve as subject matter experts for a variety of medical issues encountered in all stages of service.  Development of resource and referral mechanisms related to a variety of medical issues will be a major part of their job tasks.

 

Follow correct procedures regarding Native American children involved with CPS

Staff need training on working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and with tribes to ensure that cultural issues and tribal ties are addressed as required.

This is an issue that must be emphasized regularly with staff.  It is an area that can be addressed most effectively through the work being done by the Disproportionality Specialists at the state and regional levels.

 

Assuring permanency for children in relative placements

Permanency for children is being delayed due to the requirement that parents identify potential placements for children, and the requirement that home studies be pursued on questionable relatives.

Additional investigation staff and the lowering of the daily workload as indicated above will aid staff in completing studies of potential relative placements in a more timely manner. 
The Kinship Initiative is focused on providing support to relatives and to children so that placements are successful and contribute to both safety and permanency. 

 

Conclusion 

The CRTs are an important component in CPS’ attempt to improve Texas' child protective system. Members voluntarily take time to review the cases with care, always upholding the high standards of the agency. By considering innovative ways the community can work together with CPS for child protection, members have shown that improvement of the system is possible and needed. The issues identified and recommendations made by the CAPTA/CRT teams are critical to identifying opportunities for statewide improvements in CPS policy, practice and training.