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2000 Complaints

2100 Definition of a Complaint

OIA July 2018

OIA acts as a neutral party in reviewing formal complaints about case-specific activities of DFPS program areas to determine whether agency policies were followed. A complaint is defined as any dissatisfaction expressed by a stakeholder. A general inquiry is defined as an inquiry concerning services, eligibility, office location, or agency activities.

Complaints are an important source of information that can be used to measure how well DFPS is fulfilling its mission.

When complaint information is analyzed by comparing data within a district or program or across program districts, DFPS can gain valuable information about the types of problems that may be occurring and allow management to focus resources toward improving DFPS services.

2200 Who Can Submit a Complaint to OIA

OIA July 2018

The OIA accepts complaints from the following:

  •   Consumers and service recipients—individuals receiving a service, either voluntary or involuntarily, from DFPS. This includes foster youth 18 years old and older and former foster youth.

  •   Persons or entities regulated by DFPS—Contracted services or entities in which DFPS has a mandate to regulate.

  •   Public—Individuals who are not considered consumers, but who have an interest in a case specific situation. These individuals may include extended family, friends of the family, foster parents, or members of the community who do not have a legal relationship with the DFPS consumer.

  •   DFPS employees—when the employee or family or friend of the employee is personally involved in a case and reports that DFPS employees assigned to the case are not following agency policies.

  •   Government officials, including Texas legislators and other elected officials.

  •   Executive offices, including the following:

  •   Office of the Governor

  •   Office of the Attorney General

  •   Office of the Lieutenant Governor

  •   HHSC, including the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Office of the Ombudsman

  •   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  •   Other city and state officials

  •   Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and other stakeholders

Note that a complainant’s authority to receive confidential information will depend on the complainant’s role in the case. See 1600 Confidentiality.

2300 Complaints That OIA Accepts for Review

OIA July 2018

OIA reviews case-specific complaints as related to policy within the following DFPS programs:

  •   Adult Protective Services In-Home.

  •   Child Protective Services.

  •   Investigations, which includes Child Protective Investigations and Child Care Investigations.

  •   Statewide Intake.

2400 Complaints That OIA Does Not Accept for Review

OIA July 2018

OIA does not review the following:

  •   Complaints from foster youth 17 years old or younger. These foster youth should contact the HHSC Foster Care Ombudsman by calling 1-844-286-0769 or filling out the online submission form.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.815

  •   Complaints regarding HHSC Adult Protective Services Provider Investigations or the HHSC Child Care Licensing or Residential Child Care Licensing. Complaints regarding these HHSC programs should be made to the HHSC Office of the Ombudsman at 1-877-787-8999.

  •   Complaints that have been reviewed by OIA multiple times and all reasonable efforts have been made within DFPS policies and procedures to resolve.

  •   Complaints regarding or from DFPS staff relating to personnel issues. OIA may forward inquiries of this nature to the respective program’s regional director, or his or her designee. OIA notifies the complainant that the complaint has been forwarded to the regional director for review and handling.

  •   Complaints related to DFPS employee misconduct involving potentially serious violations of the law, issues involving fraud, theft over $500, substantial abuse of state property or resources, retaliation against employees under the Whistleblower Act, or inappropriate relationships between an employee and a former or current DFPS adult consumer. OIA shares these complaints with the DFPS Office of General Counsel and DFPS Internal Audit, who then determine whether to refer the complaint to the HHSC Office of Inspector General.

  •   When the subject of a complaint is an issue in ongoing or forthcoming litigation against DFPS, or is the subject of a law enforcement investigation or criminal prosecution, OIA does not review the complaint if the review would interfere with the litigation, investigation, or prosecution, except for ongoing CPS conservatorship cases.

  •   Complaints relating to civil rights issues. OIA forwards them to the HHSC Office of Civil Rights.

The OIA is not a part of the appeal process for DFPS programs other than CPI.

OIA may initially accept a complaint and then later refuse it if subsequent investigation or developments determine that the complaint is no longer appropriate for the OIA.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.819

2500 Complaint Intake

OIA July 2018

Program case-specific complaints are documented in the OIA automated tracking system and assigned to OIA associates.

2510 Complaints Made Over the Telephone

OIA July 2018

Complaints and general inquiries may be made using OIA’s toll-free telephone number: 1-800-720-7777.

OIA uses Language Line Services and the Telecommunication Relay System when an interpreter is necessary to gather complaint information.

During a telephone intake, OIA staff:

  •   notify the caller of the role of OIA;

  •   explain if the complaint meets the criteria for review;

  •   explain the complaint process; and

  •   provide a time frame in which the complainant can expect a written response.

OIA staff may also refer the caller to other state agencies and community resources if the caller requests general information unrelated to DFPS.

2520 Written Complaints

OIA July 2018

A written complaint may be made by:

  •   Filling out the Case-Specific Question and Complaint Form on the DFPS public website (also available in Spanish).

  •   Sending an email to the DFPS Office of Internal Affairs mailbox.

  •   Sending a letter to:

Office of Internal Affairs

Y-946

Department of Family and Protective Services

Post Office Box 149030

Austin, TX 78714-9030.

  •   Sending a fax to 1-512-339-5892.

OIA staff review the written complaint and gather the information necessary to identify a specific DFPS case or consumer. OIA staff may contact the complainant for more information.

OIA acknowledges the receipt of each written complaint. Depending on how the complaint was made, OIA either:

  •   informs the complainant whether the complaint meets the criteria for OIA review; or

  •   provides information on how the complainant may verify if the complaint meets the criteria for OIA review.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.825

2530 Notifying Program Staff

OIA July 2018

OIA staff request a response to the complaint from the appropriate DFPS regional program staff. In some instances, sufficient information to address the complaint may be obtained from the DFPS database, and contact with regional staff is unnecessary.

2540 Determining the Finding

OIA July 2018

After OIA staff gather all pertinent information and complete the review, OIA determines whether DFPS’s actions were in compliance with the applicable program policy, procedure, rule, or statute.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §702.827

OIA staff must enter a finding in the OIA automated tracking system before closing a case.

OIA staff notify regional DFPS program administration of all valid complaints including a justification for the finding.

The OIA director or lead associate must approve all validated complaint findings before they are submitted to the region.

The OIA findings will not change DFPS case decisions or case actions.

2550 Closing and Responding to Complaints

OIA July 2018

The time frame to close most complaints is 45 calendar days from the date OIA received the complaint. The OIA director or his or her designee may authorize an extension in completing the complaint when necessary.

OIA provides a written response to the complainant unless the OIA director or his or her designee approves an exception.

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