P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2007
AUSTIN -- A conference committee has worked out differences between the Senate and House versions of SB 758 by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, continuing reforms at Child Protective Services and strengthen oversight of the foster care system. The House approved the conference report today, and the bill next moves to the governor's desk.
"This legislation provides additional resources to strengthen the foster care system and provide additional layers of oversight to ensure the safety of our foster children," Senator Nelson said. "It is vital that when we remove a child from a dangerous environment, we are placing them in a safe, supportive foster home."
Senator Nelson supported a budget rider of approximately $99.9 million to reduce caseloads and increase staff and salaries at CPS, along with a $13.4 million rider to increase reimbursement rates for foster families, which are in the Senate version of the budget. 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.
- SB 21 by Senator Nelson, requiring fingerprint background checks for day care employees, was added as an amendment.