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1000 Overview

1100 History

OIA July 2018

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

Texas Human Resources Code §40.0041

1200 The Mission of the Office of Internal Affairs

OIA July 2018

The Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) acts as a neutral party in reviewing formal complaints about case-specific activities of the DFPS program areas to determine whether agency policies were followed. OIA respects every person’s right to make those complaints and be treated with dignity.

The mission of OIA 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

OIA July 2018

In accordance with the memorandum of understanding between DFPS and the Health and Human Service Commission (HHSC), both agencies will collaborate and coordinate closely regarding access to support areas, including the HHSC Office of the Ombudsman and the Foster Care Ombudsman.

1400 Methods of Informing Consumers About Filing Complaints

OIA July 2018

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

OIA publicizes the procedures for filing a case-specific complaint in:

  •   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 to DFPS Investigations web page; and

  •   the Texas Foster Care Handbook for Children, Youth, and Young Adults.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.811

1500 Contact Information

OIA July 2018

OIA can be contacted via:

  •   Phone (toll-free): 1-800-720-7777

  •   Fax: 1-512-339-5892

  •   Email: DFPS Office of Internal Affairs mailbox

  •   Online form: Case-Specific Question and Complaint Form (also available in Spanish)

  •   Standard mail:

Office of Internal Affairs

Y-946

Department of Family and Protective Services

Post Office Box 149030

Austin, TX 78714-9030

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.821

1600 Confidentiality

OIA July 2018

Strict laws protect the confidentiality of DFPS records. OIA adheres to statutory requirements and DFPS program policy regarding the handling of confidential information. OIA staff notify complainants 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 OIA Review on behalf of his or her client, the attorney must provide a release of information document signed by the client giving DFPS permission to share information with the attorney. The document must be on the attorney’s agency letterhead. OIA must receive this form before sharing case-specific information with the attorney.

See 5000 Appealing an Administrative Review of Investigation Findings (ARIF) and its sub-items.

1700 OIA Data Reports

OIA July 2018

OIA maintains information files through an automated tracking system. The tracking system includes a means to retrieve data relating to complaints and inquiries filed with OIA. 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 OIA director provides a written report to the DFPS commissioner and state office managers that analyzes information and data from complaints filed with the OIA. The report includes any areas of concern that are related to DFPS policy and procedure.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.829

Beginning December 1, 2018, OIA will prepare an annual report relating to the number, nature, and resolution of all contacts with OIA from the year. The report will be posted to the DFPS website and shared with the governor, lieutenant governor, and standing legislative committees with oversight of DFPS.

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