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1000 Overview

1100 History

OCA October 2014

State law requires that DFPS establish a statewide system to receive, respond, and catalog complaints against DFPS.

Texas Human Resources Code §40.0041

1200 The Mission of the Office of Consumer Affairs

OCA October 2014

The OCA acts as a neutral party in reviewing formal complaints about case-specific activities of the DFPS program areas, determines whether policies were followed, and strives to respect every person’s right to make those complaints and be treated with dignity.

The goal of the OCA is to address consumers’ complaints in an unbiased manner and to work with DFPS administration to identify areas of concern that require the improvement of DFPS services.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.801(a)

1300 Relationship With the Health and Human Services Commission Office of the Ombudsman

OCA October 2014

The OCA through DFPS and the HHSC Office of the Ombudsman has a service level agreement relating to the coordination of services. The OCA also provides a monthly report to the HHSC Office of the Ombudsman that is included in a written report to the HHSC executive commissioner.

1400 Methods of Informing Consumers About Filing Complaints

OCA October 2014

The OCA must notify the public, consumers, service recipients, and elected officials of the right to make a complaint against DFPS and the role of OCA in resolving complaints.

The procedures for filing a case-specific complaint to OCA are publicized by using:

  •   signs in Spanish and English displayed in DFPS offices;

  •   a brochure distributed to elected officials;

  •   program-specific handbooks;

  •   the DFPS website;

  •   the Parent’s Guide pamphlet;

  •   the Health and Human Services Commission Quick Resource Guide; and

  •   the Texas Foster Care Handbook for Youth.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.811

1500 Contact Information

OCA October 2014

Consumers, citizens, elected officials, DFPS employees, or other enterprise staff may contact the OCA via:

  •   toll-free number 1-800-720-7777;

  •   fax (512) 339-5892;

  •   the OCA email;

  •   The DFPS website

  •   correspondence.

Letters may be sent to the following address:

Office of Consumer Affairs Y-946

Department of Family and Protective Services

Post Office Box 149030

Austin, TX 78714-9030

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.817

1600 Confidentiality

OCA October 2014

Strict laws protect the confidentiality of DFPS records. The OCA adheres to statutory requirements and DFPS program policy regarding the handling of confidential information. OCA staff notify callers of the confidential nature of DFPS records when appropriate, and explain that the caller may not be eligible to receive confidential information.

If an attorney makes a complaint or requests an OCA Review on behalf of his or her client, they must provide a release of information document signed by their client giving DFPS permission to share information with the attorney. The document must be on the attorney’s agency letterhead. If this form is not received, case-specific information cannot be shared with the attorney.

See 5000 Appealing an Administrative Review of Investigation Findings (ARIF) and its subitems.

1700 OCA Data Reports

OCA October 2014

The OCA maintains information files through an automated tracking system. The OCA automated tracking system includes a means to retrieve collected data relating to complaints and inquiries filed with the OCA. Data can be retrieved by DFPS program, region, and type of inquiry, including complaints filed by DFPS consumers, the public, elected officials, and other state agencies.

The OCA manager provides a written report to the DFPS commissioner and state office managers that analyzes information and data from complaints filed with the OCA. These reports include any areas of concern that are related to DFPS policy and procedure.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.825

The OCA also provides a monthly report to the HHSC Office of the Ombudsman that is included in a written report to the HHSC executive commissioner.

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