Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Advisory Council Meeting
July 20, 2007, 9:00 a.m.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Advisory Council met in Public Hearing Room 125-E of the John H. Winters Building, 701 West 51st Street, Austin, Texas. Council Members present were Vice Chair Imogen Papadopoulos, Debbie Epperson, Paul Furukawa, Richard Hoffman, and Faith Johnson.
Also present were Commissioner Carey Cockerell and Department staff.
Agenda Item 1 – Call to Order
Call to order at 9:05 a.m. by Vice Chair Imogen Papadopoulos. Vice Chair Papadopoulos also introduced and welcomed new Council member Debbie Epperson.
Agenda Item 2 – Reading, Correction and Approval of Minutes of April 5, 2007 regular meeting and June 8, 2007 special meeting*
Judge Johnson moved approval of the April 5, 2007 Council meeting minutes as presented, and Mr. Hoffman seconded. There was no other discussion, and the minutes were approved unanimously.
Mr. Hoffman moved approval of the June 8, 2007 Council meeting minutes as presented, and Judge Johnson seconded. There was no further discussion, and the minutes were approved unanimously.
Agenda Item 3 – Public Testimony
Amy Young, Public Policy Specialist with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD), addressed the Council and briefly discussed TCDD’s mission and membership. She stated that the purpose of TCDD in federal law is to work for systems change so as to enable people with developmental disabilities to have control over their own lives, and be fully included in and contribute to their communities. With regard to the proposed rule changes, Ms. Young said the fact that violation by a child-care facility of a state or federal law could result in remedial action would serve to underscore the state’s and DFPS’s commitments to children with developmental disabilities and their access to child care.
There was no further public testimony.
4. Agency Briefings
4.a. Update on Sunset Commission Review – Stephen Este
Vice Chair Papadopoulos announced there has been a postponement of the Sunset Commission’s review. Stephen Este, Director of the Center for Program Coordination, updated the Council regarding the review process and noted that staff has been completing the required self-evaluation report in preparation for on-site visits by the Commission this fall. Mr. Este explained that due to the unusually large number of agencies scheduled for review this biennium, which is 40, as opposed to 28 typically, House Bill 3249, a clean-up bill on a variety of Sunset issues, set back DFPS’s sunset review by two years, as well as the HHSC and other health and human services agencies.
Mr. Este noted that during HHSC’s preparation for the Sunset review, several enterprise-wide issues were identified, and Commissioner Cockerell and Commissioner Hawkins and their peers have already discussed the idea of using this interim period to work on some of those issues. Vice Chair Papadopoulos queried Mr. Este regarding these issues and whether they will be addressed now. Mr. Este replied they will be addressed and that DFPS has always intended to address any issues as they arose during this process. He noted there is a master list of about 50 enterprise-wide issues and a few initiatives have already been launched in response.; one is looking at the Centers’ function, and another is health-sharing data.
4.b. Performance Management Initiative – Brad Pierson
Brad Pierson provided the Council with an overview and the current status of this Agency reform initiative. He stated the goal is to create and implement a consistent integrated structure that 1) identifies key measures of DFPS performance and 2) establishes individual accountability, from the lowest or most direct line-level positions to the senior management positions in the Agency, with an emphasis on not only activities but also client outcomes.
Mr. Pierson explained that this effort is coordinated through his team in the DFPS Performance Management group (which reports to the Chief Operating Officer), in partnership with the programs and divisions within DFPS, to facilitate the process of identifying performance indicators and creating performance plans and reports to indicate how programs or divisions are performing regarding their stated missions. His team also reports on their progress to the Executive Steering Committee for Reform Initiatives.
Mr. Pierson stated that each program and division has the role and responsibility to follow this established and approved process and to do whatever possible in order to meet the agreed-upon time lines. Mr. Pierson explained that the Management Reporting and Statistics section, which also reports to the Chief Operating Officer, partners with his team and the programs in locating this information in our database systems and building reports on the status of the process. Each program or division that undergoes this initiative has an appointed performance management leader who serves as a liaison with his team and is the primary point of contact for the process as it evolves with the program or division.
In closing, Mr. Pierson discussed the ongoing training of all staff in each program and division that undergoes the performance management initiative and remarked that in the last seven months, staff have been involved in intensive training for the CPS program.
Council member Furukawa attended an early training session in San Antonio. Dr. Furukawa expressed how impressed he was with that training session. Vice Chair Papadopoulos and Mr. Pierson discussed the fact that one performance measurement mark is good client outcomes. Mr. Pierson cited the case of a child in foster care who has two or fewer placements during the first year as being defined by the federal government as a good client outcome. He noted that a low level of recidivism is another example of good client outcome.
Ms. Papadopoulos asked Mr. Pierson whether he anticipates that by working with a performance management initiative, we will be able to have better insight into the DFPS staff turnover rate. Mr. Pierson responded that he did not know. However, the state of the art in performance management indicates when employees clearly understand what they’re being held accountable for, meaning if employees perform certain tasks and they are important and connected to good outcomes for clients, then the employee will have some measures that tell them they are doing a good job. Those measures are highly correlated with satisfaction and retention.
4.c. Commissioner’s Report – Carey D. Cockerell
DFPS Commissioner Carey Cockerell began his report by commenting on the challenges being faced by the Agency in securing placements for some of the children in the system and reminded the Council of the fact that an increasing number of children had been requiring overnight stays in CPS offices with supervision by CPS staff. We have been actively working to relieve this situation, and it seems that some of our steps are leading to a reduction in this frequency.
Commissioner Cockerell stated that a detailed update was provided to the Council and key legislative offices this week. The Commissioner noted that in June, we were unable to locate appropriate placements for approximately 114 children, resulting in overnight stays in CPS offices. He reported that in May, CPS was unable to place 160 children in appropriate placements, so the numbers are coming down. The number for July (as of July 16) was 39 children who had spent at least one night in a CPS office.
The Commissioner discussed other steps taken, including his having met personally with providers in regions with high incidence of children staying overnight in CPS offices, and gaining providers’ insights of the causes, what they and we can do differently and what we can do to help them; he noted that thus far, he has met with providers in Houston/Region 6 and Lubbock/Region 1, and will be in Corpus Christi and Region 7 next week. He has also met with providers in San Antonio this past week. Commissioner Cockerell remarked that we are receiving useful feedback from these meetings.
Commissioner Cockerell reported that staff have been meeting almost daily to troubleshoot new occurrences and explore possible outcomes, and that we are working with shelters to expand their capacities. We are looking at the possibility of emergency procurements in Regions 1 and 3, where there have been more incidents of these overnight stays in CPS offices. We are also executing child-specific contracts in order to secure appropriate placements for them. The Commissioner clarified that not all children without placements in Regions 3 and 6 have stayed overnight in CPS offices; some have actually been in shelters with supervision by CPS staff, which has allowed these children to take advantage of the shelter facilities, meals, et cetera. They are not considered admitted to the shelter for capacity reasons.
Commissioner Cockerell informed the Council that the Agency will soon undergo its second federal Child and Family Safety Review (CFSR), designed to ensure state and child welfare systems provide quality services to children and families and are in compliance with applicable federal regulations. CPS is currently completing a statewide assessment in preparation for the upcoming review. The Commissioner referenced the Council’s receipt earlier this week of details regarding the review and our outreach to key CPS partners to gain participation and input in the assessment; he noted that we always value our stakeholders’ unique perspective regarding strengths and needs of the CPS system, and we need their input in order to determine how we are meeting the charge of serving children and families in the state.
The Commissioner announced there will be several stakeholder meetings around the state and a list of those dates will be provided to the Council. The Commissioner also provided a general time line for the Child and Family Services Review. The assessment will be submitted this fall and then geographic areas will be selected for on-site reviews, which are scheduled for March of 2008. He stated the Council will be presented a briefing in October by CPS staff on the CFSR process and an overview of activities to date.
Commissioner Cockerell discussed the public hearing process regarding the provider rate increase and noted that the last hearing was held July 17. The hearing was short but well attended by major provider groups, and testimony received was in support of the 4.3-percent rate increase for foster providers. One suggestion was made that the amounts be increased even more. He reported that the public comment period for the proposed rate change has now ended and the process will continue toward September implementation.
The Commissioner provided an update on preparation for implementation of the upcoming psychiatric step-down rate and said staff are meeting to secure a procurement process with the goal of signing an emergency procurement that will begin September 1. After that date, a more formal RFP process will begin, with an anticipated RFP release in early 2008. He will keep the Council informed on the progress.
Commissioner Cockerell observed that we are approaching the end of the biennium in which the first phase of DFPS reform and renewal has been implemented, noting the past two years have been very busy, with an extensive array of directives. He expressed his pride in the DFPS staff and how hard they have worked to achieve such an impressive level of success in so short a time. The Commissioner concluded by noting the final 180-day report will be filed in September outlining our ccomplishments, as well as some of the few remaining challenges. He noted we will then begin working on CPS Reform II and other things the Agency will be working on through Licensing and APS and PEI. He will update the Council of progress.
Judge Johnson queried whether we have explored the possibility of using churches as emergency placements or getting them involved to help resolve the issue of overnight stays by children in CPS offices. Commissioner Cockerell replied that we have worked with faith-based organizations in the area of recruitment of foster homes and families within their congregations, have worked with organizations that are currently licensed for programs, such as foster homes and shelters, to try to expand their capacity; we have also been working with the unlicensed organizations and giving them information on what is necessary to become licensed and contracted. Judge Johnson wondered about the possibility of running some targeted advertising in order to involve other faith-based organizations in the effort to place these children, and Commissioner Cockerell said he and his staff will explore such options.
4.d. Chair’s Report – Imogen Papadopoulos for Ommy Strauch
Vice Chair Papadopoulos presented the prepared report of Chair Ommy Strauch. For the past several months, a group of volunteers in Region 8 has been meeting on a monthly basis to gather information and identify service gaps regarding implementation of the Outsourcing project. Now, due to action by the 80th legislature, the Outsourcing project is not continuing. DFPS will have a final meeting with these hard-working volunteers in order to update them on CPS reform and formally thank them for their time devoted to the project. Chair Strauch thanked all Council members for their activities this past quarter.
In closing, Vice Chair Papadopoulos directed the Council to Chair Strauch’s written report and highlighted some of the upcoming Agency events, and she suggested that Council members may want to speak with Commissioner Cockerell about attending the events in their respective areas.
Agenda Item 5 – Council Operations
5.a. Selection of Meeting Dates: 2008-2009 calendar year – Imogen Papadopoulos*
Vice Chair Papadopoulos referenced the proposed calendar of next year’s meeting dates, reminding the Council that the members had been asked to review the calendar and note any conflicts regarding the dates. Judge Johnson said she has a conflict with the July 2008 meetings, due to a previous commitment.
Dr. Furukawa moved approval of the proposed Council meeting dates for 2008-2009, and Ms. Epperson seconded. There was no further discussion, and the proposed meeting dates were adopted.
Agenda Item 6 – New Business
6.a. Recommendation to Propose changes in Cost Reporting Requirements in the Reimbursement Methodology for 24-hour Child Care Facilities (1 TAC §355.7101) and Repeal of 1 TAC §§355.7105, 7107, 7109 and 7111 (relating to Definition of Allowable and Unallowable Costs; Allowable Costs, Unallowable Costs and Costs not Included in Recommended Payment Rates) – Pam McDonald, HHSC*
Pam McDonald of HHSC presented these changes and noted they simply clarify the HHSC cost reporting rules for DFPS programs and the rules apply only to the calculation of prospective daily unit rates paid by DFPS for 24-hour residential child-care services; they are not applicable to any other DFPS contracts. Ms. McDonald requested that the Council recommend the proposed rule changes be published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Mr. Hoffman moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the HHSC the amendment and repeals concerning the reimbursement methodology for 24-hour child care facilities, as reflected in the Council’s July 20, 2007 Agenda Item 6.a., and Judge Johnson seconded. No further discussion ensued, and the motion carried.
6.b. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 732, Contracted Services – Liz Garbutt, Director of Contract Oversight and Support*
Liz Garbutt, DFPS Director of Contract Oversight and Support, presented these rule changes and remarked that these rules are the “other half” of the clean-up of the rules related to allowable and unallowable costs for residential child care contracts. Ms. Garbutt requested the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that the proposed rule changes be published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Judge Johnson moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the HHSC the amendments and repeal concerning contracted services, as reflected in the Council’s July 20, 2007 Agenda Item 6.b., and Ms. Epperson seconded. There was no further discussion, and the motion was passed.
6.c. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 711, Investigations in TDMHMR Facilities and Related Programs – Karl Urban, APS*
Karl Urban, Director of Program and Policy for APS, provided background on these proposed rule changes and noted that since TDMHMR no longer exists, the rule allows us to clear up and clarify all of the other reporting and notification to DADS and the DSHS. Mr. Urban requested the Council to consider the changes in order to allow the Agency to better protect clients served through MHMR investigations, and recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that the proposed rule changes be published in the Texas Register for formal public comment.
Dr. Furukawa moved that the Council recommend for proposal by the HHSC the amendments, repeal and new section concerning the investigations in DADS mental retardation and DSHS mental health facilities and related programs, as reflected in the Council’s July 20, 2007 Agenda Item 6.c. Mr. Hoffman seconded. After no additional discussion, the motion carried.
Agenda Item 7 – Old Business
7.a. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Subchapter H, Adoption Assistance Program – Beth Engelking, CPS Support Manager*
Beth Engelking, CPS Program Support Manager, provided an update on the proposed rule changes and noted that only one comment was received. The comment suggested the definition of special needs be modified so that the required reasonable efforts to place the child without adoption assistance would include situations in which foster parents wish to adopt a child. However, the rule already states the “reasonable effort” is not required if it is “against the child’s best interest,” which protects the pre-existing relationship of foster parents. Ms. Engelking asked the Council to recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that these proposed rules be adopted without changes, to be effective September 1, 2007.
Ms. Epperson moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the HHSC the repeal, new and amended rules concerning the adoption assistance Program, as reflected in the Council’s July 20, 2007 Agenda Item 7.a., and Judge Johnson seconded. There was no further discussion, and the motion was passed.
7.b. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC §700.1615, regarding broadening the ETV Program for youth who are exempt from compulsory school attendance – Beth Engelking*
Ms. Engelking presented the rule changes regarding the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program. She noted that the current minimum age requirement for the program is 18; the rule changes would decrease that to include youth ages 16 and 17, and the maximum allowable age for participants will remain at 23. Ms. Engelking reported that no public comments to the proposed rule changes were received, and she asked that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that these rules be adopted without changes, to be effective September 1, 2007.
Judge Johnson moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the HHSC the amendment to Article 700.1615, concerning the Education and Training Voucher program, as reflected in the Council’s July 20, 2007 Agenda Item 7.b. Mr. Hoffman seconded the motion. No other discussion ensued, and the motion carried.
7.c. Recommendation to propose rule changes in 40 TAC, Chapter 700, Subchapter C, Eligibility for Child Protective Services, regarding children returning to foster care to complete their educational goals – Beth Engelking*
Ms. Engelking presented an update on the proposed rule changes and noted that no public comments were received. She asked that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that the rules be adopted without changes, to be effective September 1, 2007.
Vice Chair Papadopoulos inquired whether there was currently a rule concerning this issue. Ms. Engelking replied that there was no rule and these proposed changes are a result of Senate Bill 6 from the 79th Legislature, which required DFPS adopt a program so children who have aged out of foster care can return to care in order to complete high school.
Mr. Hoffman asked if there is an age ceiling incorporated in the rule, and Ms. Engelking responded the maximum age is 22.
Ms. Epperson moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the HHSC the amendments, repeals and new rule concerning the foster care program, as reflected in the Council’s July 20, 2007 Agenda Item 7.c., and Judge Johnson seconded. There was no other discussion, and the motion was passed.
7.d. Recommendation to adopt rule changes in 40 TAC 700.505, Priorities for Reports of Abuse and Neglect – Beth Engelking*
Ms. Engelking updated the Council on the rule changes and noted the requirement for response time in Priority II investigations has changed from the current 10 days to 72 hours. She reported that no public comments were received, and she requested that the Council recommend to Commissioner Cockerell and Executive Commissioner Hawkins that the rules be adopted without changes, to be effective September 1, 2007.
Dr. Furukawa moved that the Council recommend for adoption by the HHSC the repeal of and new Article 700.505, concerning Priorities for Reports of Abuse and Neglect, as reflected in the Council’s July 20, 2007 Agenda Item 7.d., and Judge Johnson seconded the motion. Vice Chair Papadopoulos queried Ms. Engelking as to whether these changes apply to only CPS cases, and Ms. Engelking responded in the affirmative. There was no additional discussion, and the motion carried.
Vice Chair Papadopoulos adjourned the meeting at 10:01 a.m.
* Denotes Action Item