The Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) program:
- Works with communities to develop services that prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as prevent youth from running away from home, failing to go to school (truancy), or committing minor crimes (juvenile delinquency).
- Plans, develops, and administers prevention services that are complete and coordinated, and avoid fragmented or duplicated services.
- Makes prevention and early intervention services accountable by requiring proof of their effectiveness or benefit to the public.
2014 Accomplishments and Initiatives
PEI managed over $35,000,000 in FY 2014 to promote the prevention of child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency, and carry out its responsibilities. PEI funded community-based programs throughout the state that supported almost 3,262 at-risk families with services ranging from crisis counseling to home visiting. Several new programs were added in FY 2014:
- Helping Through Intervention and Prevention (HIP).
- Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES).
- Home-Visiting Education and Leadership (HEAL).
- Fatherhood EFFECTS.
In FY 2014, DFPS decided to expand PEI’s role and responsibilities in response to a recommendation by the staff of the Sunset Advisory Commission. In FY 2014, the division began work to create a new Office of Child Safety that will review high-level case trends and conduct independent reviews of child abuse and neglect fatalities. In FY 2014, PEI was part of Child Protective Services. On September 1, 2015, PEI became a stand-alone program that reports directly to the DFPS commissioner.
Public Awareness Campaigns
called “Help for Parents, Hope for Kids”. The campaign’s goal is to prevent abuse and neglect by helping parents deal with the stresses that contribute to child abuse and neglect. The campaign website is offered in English and Spanish (HelpandHope.org or AyudayEsperanza.org). The website features video testimonials from parents who abused or neglected their children and got help to change their behavior. The site also offers a wealth of information and ways to find help. In FY 2014 the campaign featured:
- Statewide advertising on television, at movie theaters, and online/mobile.
- Social media outreach on Facebook and YouTube.
- Outreach to other organizations to help distribute campaign materials or providing services or resources to parents.
The campaign was successful in sharing ideas and resources designed to strengthen families. The campaign website (English and Spanish) attracted 356,190 unique visits in FY 2014. PEI continued these media efforts based on previous research, which indicated significant increases in the following areas:
- Awareness of the campaign for single parents and young mothers.
- Awareness of the website for all parents, Hispanic parents, young mothers, and single parents.
- Likelihood of young mothers to change their behavior when stressed out by their child (calm themselves down, stop and think, leave the room, take a walk, etc.).
In FY 2014, PEI and the DFPS Child Care Licensing program collaborated on the following three campaigns:
- Baby Room to Breathe educates parents about ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep related deaths. This campaign targeted specific geographical areas and populations. The campaign features a Rules of Safe Sleep DVD in both English and Spanish for use by organizations that work with expectant mothers and families with infants. The video is available on the campaign website (BabyRoomToBreathe.org or BebeEspacioParaRespirar.org) and on the DFPS YouTube channel. PEI used online ads and social media to promote the campaign in FY 2014.
- Watch Kids Around Water aims to prevent childhood drowning. The campaign included news media coverage and agency social media sharing during the Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekends. See: WatchKidsAroundWater.org.
- Where’s Baby: Look before You Lock reminds parents and caregivers to check their cars for infants and young children before locking the cars to prevent hot car deaths. This campaign targets child care providers.
Child Abuse Prevention Calendar
In FY 2014, DFPS produced its annual prevention calendar for families called “Fun Around Town.” The calendar gave parents, and others who care for children, practical advice on encouraging good behavior, keeping families strong, setting limits for watching TV, and more. The calendar’s messages are based on the most effective strategies for prevention outreach. Studies show the best approach is to directly target families with user-friendly outreach materials that give them tools to hone their parenting skills. PEI distributed calendars to agencies, contractors, and partners across Texas, including:
- 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.
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.
DFPS Activity Book
DFPS produced an activity book for young children in FY 2014. The book was designed to help children express themselves on things like bullying, friendship, how they see themselves in their family, and if they feel safe. The activity book was distributed to social service providers to share in local communities across the state.
Partners in Prevention Training Conference
PEI hosts the Annual Partners in Prevention Training Conference each year. 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 preventing child abuse and juvenile delinquency. Areas of focus include substance abuse prevention, mental health promotion, family violence awareness and early childhood safety. Workshops from the January 2014 conference included:
- Strength-Based Approaches: Utilizing Faith- Based and Other Non-Traditional Services as Community Resources.
- Hanging Out or Hooking Up: An Integrated Approach to Prevention and Intervention in Adolescent Relationship Abuse.
- What Child Abuse Prevention Professionals Need to Know about Domestic Violence.
The annual conference is open to prevention and early intervention agencies that contract with DFPS as well as other service providers and interested parties. PEI planned the conference in collaboration with 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 January 2014.
Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Dropout Prevention Workgroup
As required by law (General Appropriations Act, 83rd Legislature), PEI served on this inter-agency workgroup along with the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, and the Texas Military Department. The four agencies were responsible for coordinating the delivery of juvenile delinquency prevention, dropout prevention, and intervention services. In early FY 2015, the workgroup will report detailed information to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) on monitoring, tracking, use, outcome, and effectiveness for all these services. In a critical first step, the group:
- Learned about each agency’s prevention programs.
- Identified key considerations in the coordination, planning, and delivery of services.
- Found ways to better coordinate, plan, and deliver services.
At the end of FY 2014, the workgroup was working to complete its initial report.
Task Force on Domestic Violence
PEI served on the Task Force on Domestic Violence. As directed by HB 2620 of the 83rd Legislature, the executive commissioner of Health and Human Services Commission appointed all 25 members of the group from various professions, organizations, and state agencies. The task force was charged with:
- Studying the impact of domestic violence on women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, fetuses, and children age two and younger.
- Finding ways to better deliver and coordinate health care services to help prevent and address domestic violence against these groups.
- Reporting its findings, recommendations, and activities.
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 Programs Available in Your County page of the DFPS Website
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 communitybased organizations to provide child abuse and neglect prevention services to families with children 0 to 17 years of age. In FY 2014, these programs included the Fatherhood EFFECTS, Respite and Parent Education, Basic Parent Education, and Home-Visiting, Education, and Leadership programs. CBCAP also funded various special initiatives and public awareness campaigns noted earlier in this section.
CBCAP services were available in the following counties: Bexar, Cameron, Concho, El Paso, Harris, Hudspeth, Kerr, Nueces, Runnels, Tarrant, Taylor and Tom Green. In FY 2014, 837 families received services through community programs funded by CBCAP.
Community-Based Family Services
The Community-Based Family Services program serves families with children under 18 that have been investigated by CPS, but whose allegations are either not confirmed or very low-priority. Services include home visits, case management, and additional social services to promote a safe and stable home environment. The program provided services in Bexar, Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, Guadalupe, McCulloch, Mills, Runnels, and San Saba counties. In FY 2014, the Community-Based Family Services program served 329 families.
Community Youth Development
The Community Youth Development (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, but with a focus on youth ages 10 through 17. Communities used approaches such as mentoring, jobs programs, career preparation, and recreational activities. Communities prioritize and fund specific prevention services according to local needs. Contractors must provide youth programs that help youth develop leadership skills. Also, each contractor must create or participate in an existing communitybased collaborative committee or group to help integrate CYD into the community.
CYD services were available in 15 targeted Texas ZIP codes within the following 13 counties: Bexar, Cameron, Dallas, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Hidalgo, Lubbock, McLennan, Nueces, Potter, Tarrant and Travis. In FY 2014, the CYD program served 17,932 youth.
Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support
The Health Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) program focuses on community collaboration in high-risk counties to reduce the chance that caregivers will abuse children in the future. This is done by:
- Empowering each local community to build effective prevention services and coalitions through enhanced resources.
- Putting in place evidence-based programs that meet the needs of the local community.
HOPES providers work to increase “protective factors” in families with children between the ages of 0 and 5. This means qualities, skills, or strategies that help a person parent effectively, even under stress—reducing the risk of child abuse. HOPES providers incorporate nationally recognized evidence-based or promising practice programs which include a home-visiting component. They also include other support services that vary depending on the area. HOPES contracts require community collaboration in each area to help support the HOPES program and make it sustainable. In late FY 2014, PEI issued the first HOPES contracts to providers in Cameron, Ector, El Paso, Gregg, Hidalgo, Potter, Travis, and Webb counties. HOPES providers will begin serving clients in FY 2015.
Helping through Intervention and Prevention
The Helping through Intervention and Prevention (HIP) program funds community-based programs that have been shown to be effective. In FY 2014, HIP contracted with community-based organizations to offer home visiting services to families with previous CPS history. HIP is a voluntary program that educates and helps with the basic needs of families who are at risk of child abuse and neglect.
Those who may be able to get HIP services include:
- Parents who lost their parental rights to a child in the past two years due to abuse and neglect and then gave birth to a new baby in the last 12-months.
- Parents whose child died from abuse or neglect in the last two years and then gave birth to a baby within the last 12 months.
- Youth in DFPS custody or who recently left state care and gave birth to a baby in the last 12 months.
HIP services will be offered in Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Lubbock, and Tarrant counties in FY 2015.
Services to At-Risk Youth
The Service to At-risk Youth (STAR) program contracts with community agencies to offer:
- Crisis counseling for families.
- Short-term emergency respite care (short-term relief for those caring for at-risk youth).
- Individual and family counseling.
- Life-skills groups for youth and parenting-skills groups for parents or other caregivers.
Each STAR contractor also provides “universal” childabuse prevention services, ranging from local media campaigns to brochures and parenting classes. These services provide general child abuse and neglect information that apply to and are available to everyone in the community.
Youth under the age of 18 and their families are eligible for STAR services if they experience conflict at home, truancy, or delinquency. They can also get services if a youth runs away from home or is at risk of abuse, but a CPS case is not required. Ten to sixteen year olds charged with misdemeanors or state jail felonies are also eligible if they have not been adjudicated (convicted in juvenile system). STAR services are available in all 254 Texas counties.
STAR is a statewide program with services provided in all 254 counties. In FY 2014, the STAR program served 23,943 youth and 19,240 parents or other primary caregivers.
Statewide Youth Services Network
The Statewide Youth Services Network program makes juvenile delinquency prevention services available to youth ages 6-17 in each DFPS region. These services feature community-based and school-based mentoring programs that have been shown to be effective. The program also offered services in over 200 counties within all 12 HHS regions. In FY 2014, Statewide Youth Services Network funded programs that served 4,191 children and youth.
Texas Families: Together and Safe
Texas Families: Together and Safe (TFTS) is a program that funds community programs that are shown to be effective in relieving stress and teaching parents the skills and behaviors they need to nurture their children on their own. The goals of the program are to:
- Improve access to family-support services.
- Make family-support services in communities more efficient and effective.
- Enable children to stay at home by providing preventative services.
- Increase collaboration among local programs, government agencies, and families.
The TFTS program provided services to families with children 18 months to 17 years of age in Bexar, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Callahan, Cameron, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland, Hidalgo, Kerr, Leon, Madison, McCulloch, Mills, Nueces, Robertson, Runnels, San Saba and Tarrant counties. In FY 2014, 2,096 families received services.