News Release from the office of Senator Carlos Uresti

November 20, 2013
CONTACT: Mark Langford, (210) 932-2568

Uresti welcomes interim charge on DFPS child protection efforts

Sen. Carlos Uresti said Wednesday he welcomes an interim charge from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst directing the Health and Human Services Committee to review child protection efforts at the Department of Family and Protective Services.

"This provides an opportunity for the committee to review a broad range of agency policies and practices at a time when the state is experiencing a surge in deaths among children in foster care," said Uresti, who serves on the committee. "Recent history shows the critical need to improve the performance and efficiency of Child Protective Services caseworkers who are overburdened and under paid."

Uresti also said he hoped the review will focus on child abuse and neglect prevention efforts, which he called "the key to reducing child injury and death in Texas."

Statewide there were more than 64,000 confirmed cases of child abuse in Texas last year, resulting in 212 deaths.

In the last session of the Legislature, Uresti sponsored SB 771, which requires special training for CPS employees who are hired for or promoted to a supervisory position. The goal is to ensure that supervisors are well equipped before they begin their new responsibilities and thus help reduce the agency's staff turnover rate.

Another measure by Uresti, SB 769, established a pilot program in Bexar County to provide specialized training to foster parents of children with severe mental health needs or those who have experienced extreme trauma.

"The lieutenant governor's charge will allow us to monitor the implementation and progress of both of these new laws, which should greatly improve both the daily operations and morale at CPS," said Uresti, who created the Blue Ribbon Task Force on child abuse prevention.

Dewhurst's interim charge directs the committee to: Review the Department of Family and Protective Services' efforts to reduce child fatalities. Review the process by which the Department of Family and Protective Services collects and uses data to evaluate agency performance and improve outcomes for children in the Child Protective Services system. Make recommendations to ensure the process effectively uses data to strategically improve caseworker performance, and identify and improve upon deficiencies within the system and improve overall outcomes for children and reduce child fatalities.

Sen. Uresti represents Senate District 19, which covers more than 35,000 square miles and contains all or part of 17 counties, two international ports of entry, ten state parks, 51 school districts, almost 9,000 miles of highways and county roads, and more than 34,000 producing oil and gas wells. The district is larger than 11 states and 124 Nations, and contains almost 400 miles of the Texas-Mexico border.