Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923


November 20, 2013
Contact: Megan Hanson, (512) 463-0112


AUSTIN — The Senate Health and Human Services Committee, led by Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, will conduct a sweeping review of the foster care system and other programs administered by Child Protective Services (CPS) as part of interim assignments announced today by the Lieutenant Governor.

"We have a sacred duty to protect children who are suffering from abuse and neglect — and to ensure the safety of children who are placed in foster care," Senator Nelson said. "While progress has been made, new problems have emerged, and our committee will work to address these challenges head on with the goal of keeping children safe and ensuring that foster children are in supportive environments that give them the best opportunity to succeed."

Last session, the Legislature increased funding to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) by over $340 million for the biennium, which will allow the agency to hire 800 new direct care caseworkers and supervisors and to provide targeted pay raises. The funding also provides $35 million to increase rates for foster care providers. The Legislature also approved legislation sponsored by Senator Nelson to create an alternative response system for low-risk cases; ensure responsible use of psychotropic medications; increase community collaboration in child placement decisions; and strengthen prevention programs such as home-visits and mentoring.

Specifically, the committee has been directed to study DFPS' efforts to reduce child fatalities; ensure that DFPS effectively uses data to strategically improve caseworker performance; identify and improve upon deficiencies within the system; and improve overall outcomes for children — and to issue a report prior to the next legislative session offering recommendations for policy changes. Today's announcement follows an October letter from Senator Nelson to DFPS, calling on the agency to develop an immediate action plan in response to a series of preventable deaths in the state's foster care system.

SENATOR JANE NELSON represents District 12, including portions of Denton and Tarrant counties. She is chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the highest ranking Republican in the Texas Senate.