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Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)

    • Next Review Date: 2022-2023 Review Cycle - 88th Legislative Session
    • Last Review Date: 2014-2015 Review Cycle - 84th Legislative Session

    Sunset Review Documents for 2014-2015 Review Cycle, 84th Legislative Session

    Final Results from Last Sunset Report

    The following material summarizes results of the Sunset review of DFPS, including management actions directed to DFPS that do not require statutory changes. For additional information see the Department of Family and Protective Services Staff Report with Final Results.

    Statutory Barriers to Improving Child Protective Services

    Reduces unnecessary caseworker and overall agency workload.

    • Changes mandated timeline for DFPS to facilitate parent-child visitation after a removal from three days to five days to make this requirement feasible for caseworkers.
    • Authorizes DFPS to modify the form and contents of the health, social, educational, and genetic history report for a child, and provide this report to adoptive parents in lieu of the entire redacted case record under certain circumstances.
    • Allows flexibility in the method caseworkers use in providing notification of a permanency hearing to required parties.
    • Limits a requirement that DFPS provide a copy of a school investigation report to several specific parties, instead making this report available upon request.
    • Allows caseworkers to provide information on changes to a child’s education decision maker, or the person authorized to make educational decisions on behalf of a child, through the permanency progress report instead of through a separate report.
    • Clarifies that an underlying CPS suit does not need to be transferred to the county in which an adoption petition is filed to save time and reduce administrative burden on caseworkers and the courts.
    • Eliminates a separate staffing and workload distribution plan, instead requiring DFPS to consider the goals of this plan, such as improving investigation quality, in developing the CPS business plan required elsewhere in the bill.
    • Provides a clear procedure for new trials in a CPS suit to avoid the need to file a new removal and promote efficiency for the agency and the courts.

    Provides DFPS with additional flexibility to make its processes more efficient by streamlining statute and removing overly prescriptive provisions.

    • Eliminates or modifies statutes mandating specific staffing and training requirements for CPS caseworkers and managers, including the content of caseworker training.
    • Eliminates specific casework documentation and management mandates.
    • Eliminates statutes requiring specific technology projects and systems and specific organizational or administrative structures.
    • Condenses and updates statutes governing permanency hearings and permanency progress reports before and after the final order.
    • Updates DFPS’ required reporting statute, repealing other law that overly prescribes specific, and in some cases outdated, measures.
    • Allows DFPS the flexibility to develop a new assessment tool for children placed in foster care and eliminates unnecessary detail regarding assessment of children for intellectual and development disabilities.
    • Provides DFPS the flexibility to establish in rule a process for permanency planning meetings and eliminates overly prescriptive requirements in current law.
    • Clarifies that DFPS must only establish multidisciplinary teams to provide services in CPS cases in jurisdictions in which a children’s advocacy center has not been established.
    • Consolidates and clarifies statutory requirements regarding notification of specific parties in a CPS suit of significant events affecting a child in conservatorship, such as a significant change in medical condition. Comprehensively lays out whom caseworkers must notify, notification timelines, and provides a definition of significant events.
    • Provides DFPS with a good cause exception under limited circumstances to the current statutory requirement that all interviews with children in CPS investigations be recorded, including limiting this requirement to only interviews in which the allegations are discussed.
    • Provides DFPS with a good cause exception to the current mandate of completing administrative reviews of investigative findings within 45 days.
    • Eliminates a requirement that DFPS request a biological family pay for burial expenses of a child who dies in conservatorship.
    • Eliminates overly prescriptive and outdated law regarding placement decisions.
    • Eliminates a mandate that DFPS establish a county outreach program.

    Promotes child safety, permanency, and well-being.

    • Expands eligibility for the tuition and fee waiver for certain foster youth.
    • Requires sharing of juvenile probation information with DFPS regarding youth involved in both systems.
    • Ensures youth in foster care receive a copy and a certified copy of important records, such as a social security card, upon turning 16 years of age, and provides DFPS the flexibility to not provide certain records if the youth already has these upon turning 18.
    • Allows foster youth to stay in the same school despite placement changes.
    • Requires DFPS to conduct a criminal history check and complete a preliminary evaluation of a relative or designated caregiver’s home before placing a child in the home. Requires DFPS to begin the full home study within 48 hours of placement, and complete the home study as soon as possible.
    • Requires DFPS to complete a home study of an adoptive home before placing a child in the home.
    • Requires schools to excuse a child’s absence if an absence results from services or appointments required by the child’s service plan.
    • Broadens DFPS’ background check authority to allow criminal background checks in any case DFPS determines necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of a child, elderly person, or person with a disability, instead of a specified list of parties as provided in current law.

    Updates and eliminates archaic and unnecessary statutes, and conforms state law with federal law.

    • Streamlines and updates statute governing the adoption assistance program, and eliminates outdated statute requiring DFPS to establish an adoptive parent registry.
    • Consolidates and clarifies DFPS’ prevention and early intervention statutes.
    • Updates statute regarding a parent’s service plan to reflect current best practice.
    • Eliminates an unnecessary process by which a court may declare a child "at-risk" since this process is not used by the courts and not needed by DFPS to provide services to children who need them.
    • Eliminates a process by which law enforcement can bypass CPS and place a child with a child-placing agency.
    • Clarifies DFPS’ authority to consent to medical care for children in care regardless of the method of payment.
    • Clarifies DFPS’ authority to pay for foster care to align with current practice.
    • Repeals several archaic provisions written at a time when CPS was not a state-level function and counties had more involvement in child protection.
    • Eliminates outdated and overly specific statutes regarding DFPS’ duties and service delivery.
    • Repeals certain state statutes that duplicate the federal Multiethnic Placement Act to simplify the statute and reduce confusion.
    • Conforms state law to federal law regarding the criteria a court may use in making a finding of aggravated circumstances, in which a service plan and reasonable efforts at reunification are not required.
    • Eliminates a requirement duplicative of federal law that DFPS provide foster youth with their credit report on an annual basis.
    • Conforms state law to the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act regarding grounds for termination of parental rights based on convictions of certain crimes.

    Caseworker Retention

    Directs DFPS to consolidate its existing workforce management functions under one operational unit and add additional critical functions to better support employees and systematically identify root causes of turnover. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs DFPS to dedicate certain existing caseworker positions to create a mentoring program to better support new CPS caseworkers. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should more clearly define its policy on the use of corrective performance actions, provide additional guidance to managers on appropriate use, and require centralized reporting of all level one actions. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should develop a systematic way of using turnover, when appropriate, as a tool for judging performance of CPS regional management. (management action – nonstatutory)

    CPS should revise its system for evaluating caseworker performance by better evaluating quality. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should provide guidance to managers on awarding merit pay to ensure transparency and consistent criteria for merit pay awards to foster increased morale and retention. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should establish a system for collecting confidential internal complaints. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should regularly do casework time studies to more accurately develop caseload goals and policies that are fair and attainable for caseworkers. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should develop a standardized and objective method for fairly and efficiently distributing cases. (management action – nonstatutory)

    CPS Management

    Requires DFPS to implement an annual CPS business planning process to prioritize activities and resources to improve the program and to coordinate with regional CPS staff in developing the plan. The bill requires the plan to include the following elements: long-term and short-term performance goals; identification of priority projects and ongoing initiatives that are clearly linked to these goals; and staff expectations, including specific tasks and resources needed and the expected outcome of each project and the process for measuring these outcomes.

    Directs DFPS to submit a progress report to the Sunset Commission in 2016 on changes made as a result of the CPS operational assessment. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs DFPS to comprehensively review and update the CPS policy and procedures handbook. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs CPS to develop a systematic approach to its policymaking process to ensure clear, updated policies and procedures that mitigate risk of noncompliance and staff confusion. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs DFPS to require CPS regions to fully document their protocols and practices, report these, and update them on a regular basis. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs CPS to develop a systematic, comprehensive approach to evaluating and monitoring regional performance, including a monitoring process to verify implementation. (management action – nonstatutory)

    CPS should develop a process to report results of staff surveys and other feedback mechanisms back to employees, including suggestions made and management actions taken. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs DFPS to ensure its planning efforts for IMPACT modernization support improvement and align with possible CPS operational changes. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs DFPS to develop a succession planning strategy, to prepare for impending retirements and provide opportunities for advancement to lower-level staff. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Foster Care Redesign

    Requires DFPS to develop and maintain a long-range foster care redesign implementation plan to guide the agency’s transition efforts, and establishes the required contents of the plan. The Legislature added additional specificity to these requirements, such as requiring a contingency plan in case a contract ends prematurely.

    DFPS should thoroughly evaluate system data and cost before pursuing broad implementation of foster care redesign. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should develop a consistent approach to measuring and monitoring provider quality and identifying risk indicators in both the legacy and redesigned systems. (management action – nonstatutory)

    The executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) should adopt rules for DFPS’ use of foster care advisory committees, ensuring the groups meet the structural and operational needs for advancing the agency’s goals. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Child Care Licensing Enforcement and Fees

    Authorizes DFPS to assess administrative penalties for high-risk child care licensing violations without first pursuing non-monetary administrative sanctions.

    Requires DFPS to develop an enforcement policy in rule to guide child care licensing enforcement efforts, and require a specific methodology to be publicly available.

    Grants cease-and-desist authority to DFPS limited to the unlicensed provision of child care in accordance with child care laws. The bill also authorizes DFPS to impose an administrative penalty for any person who violates a cease-and-desist order.

    Eliminates DFPS’ statutory licensing and administrative fee caps and requires the executive commissioner to set fees in rule.

    Requires DFPS to implement a renewal process for child care licenses and registrations and requires the executive commissioner to adopt rules establishing a renewal process.

    Directs DFPS to develop a more robust quality assurance process for standards cited that directly relate to child safety. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Directs DFPS to transition to online child care licensing fee collections. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Use of Data

    DFPS should add an additional measure of recidivism linked to the alleged perpetrator. (management action – nonstatutory)

    The agency should clarify and standardize the use of unsure case findings. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should broaden its child fatality investigation review to include a sample of all fatality investigations. (management action – nonstatutory)

    The agency should develop a clear and consistent policy for referring families to services. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should develop more specific outcome measures for Family-Based Safety Services. (management action – nonstatutory)

    DFPS should monitor the use and evaluate the effectiveness of investigation resources. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Prevention and Early Intervention

    Requires DFPS to develop a five-year comprehensive strategic plan for its prevention and early intervention services and specifies the required contents of the plan and requirements DFPS is to follow in developing the plan.

    Transfers the Nurse Family Partnership from the Health and Human Services Commission to DFPS. (S.B. 200)

    Transfers the Texas Home Visiting Program from HHSC to DFPS. (S.B. 200)

    Transfers the Pregnant Post-Partum Intervention Program and the Parenting Awareness and Drug Risk Education Program from the Department of State Health Services to DFPS. (S.B. 200)

    Directs DFPS to develop a strategy to use existing data to better focus its prevention efforts and report the outcomes of its programs. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Stakeholder Input

    Requires the HHSC executive commissioner to adopt rules governing the use of advisory committees, ensuring committees meet standard structure and operating criteria.

    Removes DFPS’ two advisory committees from statute, the Parental Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Promoting the Adoption of Minority Children.

    Directs DFPS to clearly define in agency policy the appropriate use of advisory committees and informal workgroups.

    Directs DFPS to establish in rule the Advisory Committee on Promoting Adoption of Minority Children. (management action – nonstatutory)

    Other

    Requires DFPS to conduct a study by December 31, 2016 to determine whether authorization agreements should be expanded to include agreements between a parent of a child and a nonrelative.

    Requires DFPS to allow providers to home school children in substitute care unless a court determines home schooling is not in the child’s best interest or has limited the right of DFPS to allow home schooling; or DFPS determines federal law requires another school setting.

    Requires DFPS’ complaints division to conduct informal reviews requested by individuals subject to a CPS investigation, instead of CPS supervisors as provided by current law.

    Continuation

    Continues DFPS as an independent agency under the HHSC umbrella until 2023. (S.B. 200)