WHAT EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW

INFORMATION ALL PARENTS NEED TO KNOW

Fort Worth Star-Telegram2016-10-12 18:25

Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services Wednesday to ramp up efforts to protect endangered foster children and curb the backlog of ones waiting for homes.

Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus released a joint letter to department Commissioner Hank Whitman directing him to immediately develop a plan to hire and train more special investigators to take up the backlog of at-risk kids who have not had a face-to-face interaction with Child Protective Services. The lawmakers are also calling on the agency to create a hiring and training schedule to get more caseworkers out into the field and to continue working closely with community organizations. The lawmakers also called recent news of children sleeping in hotels and CPS offices “unacceptable."

The letter comes just eight days after DFPS publicly released numbers showing nearly a thousand at-risk children under CPS care were not checked on once over the course of six months. That report also found that caseworkers did not see 1,800 children within 24-hours of hearing reports of alleged abuse or mistreatment.

“The state’s residential providers must be held to the highest standards while caring for our most vulnerable or no longer operate in our system.” The state leaders wrote in a letter

“We also will not tolerate inferior residential foster care operations,” the state leaders wrote in the letter. “The state’s residential providers must be held to the highest standards while caring for our most vulnerable or no longer operate in our system.”

While Abbott and other state leaders are calling on the agency to move forward on a plan regardless of budget concerns, it's unclear how soon the department will step up its efforts with a looming $40 million budget shortfall and already overworked caseworkers.

State leaders also directed Whitman to “reinforce the culture of accountability” by making sure staffers “rise to the challenge” ahead. The lawmakers gave a nod to the department's financial constraints but stressed "we have a responsibility to find and protect these vulnerable Texans as soon as possible."

Whitman said in an emailed statement that he appreciates lawmakers' "acknowledgement of the many difficult issues we face" but added that "protecting children is our highest priority."

"We have to do better," Whitman said. "All of our energies are focused on making this right and putting the safety and welfare of children first, no matter what."

Hours after the letter was released, Patrick called on the Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to receive the department's plans. Nelson quickly scheduled an Oct. 26 hearing of her committee to take up the issue.

"We need to better understand what investments are working and what improvements are needed," Nelson said in a statement. "We need an action plan that will keep children safe."

"We need to better understand what investments are working and what improvements are needed. We need an action plan that will keep children safe." Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound

State Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee for health and human services, said lawmakers will be watching for the agency to make improvements related to caseworker working conditions and retention alongside easing case load burdens. He said "it's premature to speculate" but providing the department with supplemental funding during next year's legislative session is "not out of the realm of possibility."

"I fully believe that the House and the Senate will prioritize the protection of children this upcoming session and if additional funds are absolutely necessary that will be considered by both groups," Price said. "I don't believe for a second either chamber will jeopardize the safety of children at the expense of the budget."

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, thinks the situation at CPS is too dire to wait until next session. He wrote a letter to Abbott on October 5 asking the governor call a special session as "the scope of the problem has eclipsed the agency's ability to adequately remedy the situation without legislative assistance."

Kate Murphy, senior policy associate for child protection for Texans Care for Children, said in an emailed statement that "caseworker turnover and kids bouncing from one placement to another are challenges the state can overcome." She said while it was good to see state leaders alarmed about the department's challenges, it's also important to look at increasing caseworker pay and foster children access to health services.

"We're glad to see a bipartisan consensus that CPS needs additional funding starting in September of next year," Murphy said. "The Commissioner and state leaders should evaluate whether CPS needs more funding in the next 11 months to boost salaries and hire more caseworkers to start addressing the crisis right away."

Some advocates say workforce education is also going to be critical to fixing the department's problems.

Miriam Nisenbaum, executive director for the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said CPS needs a strong workforce with a variety of backgrounds in areas like behavioral health and social work. Yet a recent decision to scale back the agency's caseworker education requirements has undermined that goal.

The letter from state leaders released Wednesday ordered the department to hire more investigators with law enforcement backgrounds.

“I’m not sure a law enforcement background will give you the too

ls you need to work with the families a lot of the CPS workers end up dealing with,” Nisenbaum said.

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/article107876942.html

Please Make Note

Please make note that I, Jessica Lynn Hepner the creator of What Every Parent Should Know, is not giving legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am giving you knowledge via first hand experiences.

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Save A Life by Angie Kassabie

Save A Life by Angie Kassabie
I URGE ALL MY FRIENDS TO READ & SHARE THIS; YOU COULD SAVE A LOVED ONES LIFE BY KNOWING THIS SIMPLE INFORMATION!!! Stroke has a new indicator! They say if you forward this to ten people, you stand a chance of saving one life. Will you send this along? Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue: During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. >>RECOGNIZING A STROKE<< Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S *Ask the individual to SMILE. T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. Chicken Soup) R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved. I have done my part. Will you?

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