P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2005
AUSTIN -- The conference committee report on Senate Bill 6, the omnibus protective services reform bill, was approved today by the Texas House and Texas Senate and sent to the governor's desk. Authored by Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, Senate Bill 6 responds to the ongoing problems within the state's protective service agencies.
"This legislation will ensure that the agencies responsible for making life-and-death decisions are properly equipped and trained to make the right decisions," Senator Nelson said. "This has been an issue so close to our hearts because it involves our children and our most vulnerable citizens. We need our protective service agencies to do what their name suggests -- protect."
The conference committee report for SB 6:
- Adds more than 2,500 new protective service workers, including 1,519 CPS caseworkers over the next two years.
- Reduces CPS caseloads from 74 to 44.7 per caseworker per month, a 40% decrease.
- Adds $248,100,549 in all funds to CPS annual budget, plus an additional $18.6 million for community prevention programs.
- Increases APS budget by $34.1 million, adding 144 new caseworkers over the next two years.
- Reduces APS caseloads from 35 to 28 per worker by 2007.
- Clarifies that psychiatric drugs & medical treatment are given to foster children only with informed consent.
- Privatizes foster care case management, one region by 2007, three regions by 2009, and statewide by 2011.
- Raises the penalty for making an intentional false report to CPS to a state jail felony.
- Ensures law enforcement is jointly investigating all criminal child abuse cases.
- Ensures indigent parents have access to counsel upon removal of their children.
- Requires CPS caseworkers to receive training on parents' fourth amendment constitutional rights.
- Encourages placement with relatives by expanding the Relative Caregiver Assistance program statewide (provides $1,000 one-time stipend and support services to relative caregivers).
- Requires a study of the feasibility of localities providing APS services (instead of the state providing these services).
- Requires the creation of Special Taskforce Units in large counties to investigate especially complex APS cases.
- Allows the APS to intervene when there is an imminent threat of abuse.
- Requires all private professional guardians to be certified.