The responsibilities of Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) are to:
- Work with Texas communities to develop services to prevent child abuse and neglect, delinquency, running away, and truancy.
- Plan, develop, and administer a comprehensive, unified approach to delivering prevention services to avoid fragmentation and duplication.
- Make prevention and early intervention services more accountable by demonstrating the effectiveness or public benefit of programs.
2013 Accomplishments and Initiatives
PEI remained the lead for the Interagency Coordinating Council for Building Healthy Families during FY 2013 through a memorandum of understanding adopted by the council's 11 member agencies. Participating agencies meet on an ad hoc basis.
PEI funded the Multidisciplinary Approach to Prevention Services (MAPS) program in FY 2012 and FY 2013 in response to the council's recommendations to the Legislature in 2009. This program helps address the needs of families facing multiple issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, and child abuse. An evaluation of the MAPS program is scheduled to be completed in FY 2014. Due to another recommendation, PEI shifted from a cost-reimbursement payment method to a fee-for-service payment structure for a number of prevention programs during FY 2013. The new fee-for-service payment structure achieves greater efficiencies and allows PEI staff to focus more on service quality.
Public Awareness Campaigns
PEI promoted the child abuse prevention campaign called “Help for Parents, Hope for Kids” during FY 2013. The goal of the campaign is to prevent abuse by helping parents deal with the stresses that contribute to child abuse and neglect. The campaign website is featured in both English and Spanish (HelpandHope.org or AyudayEsperanza.org).
In FY 2013 the campaign featured:
- A statewide advertising campaign involving television and online ads.
- A social media campaign on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
- Video testimonials from parents who had abused or neglected their children and sought help to change.
- Outreach to other organizations to participate by distributing campaign materials or providing services or resources to parents through HelpandHope.org.
The campaign's Facebook page was very successful in sharing ideas and resources designed to strengthen families. The campaign webpages, English and Spanish, were also successful attracting 408,319 unique visits in FY 2013. Traffic spiked dramatically when television and online ads were shown across Texas. PEI continued these media efforts based on pre-and post-campaign research for 2012, which showed:
- Awareness of the campaign rose by 13 percentage points for single parents and 8 percentage points for young mothers, who were the primary target audience.
- Awareness of the website increased 5 percentage points for all parents, nine percentage points for Hispanic parents, nine percentage points for young mothers, and nine percentage points for single parents.
- Thirteen percent more young moms reported they were likely to change their behavior when stressed out by their children (calm themselves down, stop and think, leave the room, take a walk, etc.).
In FY 2013, PEI also collaborated with DFPS' Child Care Licensing program to promote three campaigns: Baby Room to Breathe, Watch Kids Around Water, and Where's Baby: Look Before You Lock.
- Baby Room to Breathe educates parents about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other unexplained infant death. The campaign features a Rules of Safe Sleep DVD in both English and Spanish for use by organizations who work with expectant mothers and families with infants. The video is available on the campaign website (BabyRoomToBreathe.org or www.BebeEspacioParaRespirar.org) and on the DFPS YouTube channel.
- Watch Kids Around Water aims to prevent childhood drowning. The campaign included news media coverage and agency social media sharing during the Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day weekends. See: WatchKidsAroundWater.org.
Where’s Baby: Look before You Lock reminds parents and caregivers to check their cars for their infants and young children before locking the cars to prevent hot car deaths.
Child Abuse Prevention Calendar
In FY 2013, DFPS created the sixth annual prevention calendar for Texas families titled "Once Upon a Time Parenting: The Beginning of a Great Story.” The calendar gave parents and other caregivers practical advice on dealing with temper tantrums, water safety, developmental milestones, healthy eating tips, and more. The calendar's messages are based on the most effective strategies for prevention outreach. Assessments indicate the best approach is to directly target families with user-friendly outreach materials that give parents tools they can use to strengthen their parenting skills.
PEI distributed 536,000 calendars to about 1,000 agencies, contractors, and partners across Texas, including:
- More than 250 social-service providers.
- Licensed child-care facilities, child welfare boards, and child advocacy centers.
- Elementary and secondary schools and Head Start programs.
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices in many locations.
- Local churches and medical facilities.
English and Spanish versions of the calendar were made available for free download at HelpandHope.org and AyudayEsperanza.org. The calendar was endorsed by the Texas Pediatric Society, the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Partners in Prevention Training Conference
Each year, DFPS hosts the Annual Partners in Prevention Training Conference. The conference brings together social service professionals, advocates, educators, law enforcement professionals, child-care professionals, community leaders, and faith leaders interested in improving programs and sharing expertise. The multi-day conference is dedicated to child abuse prevention and juvenile delinquency prevention. Related areas of focus include substance abuse prevention, mental health promotion, family violence awareness and early childhood safety. Workshops from the 2013 conference included: Preventing Child Abuse and Family Violence through Teen Relationship Education, Welcoming Diversity: Step Toward Building Inclusive Communities, and Childhood Should Not Hurt: Child Abuse Prevention Programs and Strategies. The annual conference is open to prevention and early intervention agencies that contract with DFPS as well as other prevention service providers and interested parties. PEI planned the conference in collaboration the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, and Texas Department of State Health Services. About 260 people attended the Partners in Prevention Conference in February 2013.
PEI contracts with community-based agencies and organizations to provide services to prevent the abuse, neglect, delinquency, and truancy of Texas children. Services are voluntary and provided at no cost to participants. However, all services are not available in all Texas communities. To find out if services are available in your community, search for your county on the Prevention and Early Intervention Program Availability website.
For more information, see: DFPS Data Book pages 105-112 and 244-249.
Community Youth Development (CYD)
The CYD program contracts with community-based organizations to develop juvenile-delinquency prevention programs in ZIP codes with high juvenile crime rates for youth ages 6 to 17 (with a focus on youth ages 10 through 17). Communities used approaches to preventing delinquency that included mentoring, youth-employment programs, career preparation, and alternative recreational activities. Communities prioritize and fund specific prevention services according to local needs. CYD services are available in fifteen targeted Texas ZIP codes. In FY 2013, 16,767 youth received services through the CYD program. In addition, each contractor must create or participate in an existing community-based collaborative committee or group to help integrate CYD into the community. Each contractor must also provide youth programs that help youth develop leadership skills.
Services to At-Risk Youth (STAR)
The STAR program contracts with community agencies to offer family crisis-intervention counseling, short-term emergency respite care (temporary relief for those who are caring for at-risk youth) and individual and family counseling. Youth as old as age 17 and their families are eligible if they experience conflict at home, truancy or delinquency, or if a youth runs away from home. STAR services are available in all 254 Texas counties. Each STAR contractor also provides universal child-abuse prevention services, ranging from local-media campaigns to informational brochures and parenting classes. In FY2013, 23,677 youth and 19,150 primary caregivers received services through the STAR program.
Statewide Youth Services Network
These youth-services contracts make community and evidence-based juvenile delinquency prevention programs available to youth ages 6-17 in each DFPS region. In FY 2013, 4,384 clients received services through programs funded by Statewide Youth Services Network.
Texas Families: Together and Safe
Texas Families: Together and Safe is a program that funds evidence-based, community programs to relieve stress and promote parental skills and behaviors that increase the ability of families to be independent and successfully nurture their children. The goals of the program are to:
- Improve and enhance access to family support services.
- Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of community-based family support services.
- Enable children to stay at home by providing preventative services.
- Increase collaboration among local programs, government agencies, and families.
In FY 2013, 1,736 families received services.
Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
The Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program builds community awareness of prevention services, strengthens community and parental involvement in child abuse prevention efforts, and encourages families to use the services available to them. This program funds a variety of community-based organizations to provide child abuse and neglect prevention services. In FY 2013, these programs included Family Support, Respite and Parent Education, Basic Parent Education, and Multidisciplinary Approach to Prevention programs as well as various special initiatives and public awareness campaigns that are noted elsewhere in this report. In FY 2013, 990 families received services through CBCAP funded programs.
Community-Based Family Services
This program serves families who are investigated by CPS but allegations are not confirmed. Services include home visits, case management, and additional social services to promote a safe and stable home environment. In FY 2013, 287 families received services through the Community-Based Family Services program.