P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2007
AUSTIN -- Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, today filed legislation (SB 758) with the goal of continuing reforms at Child Protective Services and strengthening oversight of the foster care system.
"There are many signs of progress in our ongoing protective services reform effort. However, we are clearly not where the Legislature intended two years after passing SB 6," Senator Nelson said, referring to the bill she authored last session in response to a series of tragedies involving abused and neglected children. "SB 758 further refines our efforts to protect abused and neglected children and focuses heavily on ensuring they have access to safe, loving foster homes. Quite candidly, oversight has broken down in our foster system and has unfortunately led to preventable tragedies."
In addition to filing SB 758, Senator Nelson said she would work through the appropriations process on efforts to reduce caseloads and improve retention of CPS caseworkers. SB 758:
- Expands the drug endangered child initiative to include cocaine, crack, and heroin;
- Creates a medical advisory committee to recommend and design pediatric centers of excellence that will assist in efforts to detect signs of child abuse or neglect;
- Creates a licensing committee within DFPS to review violations and trends;
- Deletes the Independent Administrator provision, leaving that role with the state;
- Adds risk analysts and safety specialists in oversight of placing agencies and facilities;
- Requires the development and implementation of a performance enhancement unit to ensure compliance with laws, rules, and agency policy;
- Requires annual unannounced inspection of residential child-care facilities;
- Requires DFPS to investigate all serious incidents in foster or group homes, as well as minimum standard violations, for children under 6;
- Requires consultations with CPS caseworkers, CASA volunteer, and ad litem, if applicable, before determining the best placement for the child.
- Authorizes the courts to order intervention services, even when the child has not been removed;
- Establishes the Strengthen Families Through Enhanced In-Home Support Program.