Texas Representatives Committee on Human Services gathered in Austin, Texas to discuss reforms on the Child Protective Services (CPS), which the state faces as one of its main issues today.
“We’re going to try really hard,” said Representative Richard Pena Raymond (D-Laredo) as the hearing on three bills commenced. “We’ve tried up ’til now, we’re going to keep trying to make it better.”
The representatives, together with the citizens providing foster care for children, talked about House Bills 4, 5, and 6.
House Bill 4 provides foster parents with financial support. Mercedes Bristol, a citizen covered by this bill, shared how it helps her support her five grandchildren in her custody.
“I had no beds. I had nowhere to put these children,” Bristol told the committee. “These funds would actually allow children to be able to participate in extracurricular activities, such as ball games, music, things like that,” Bristol said, adding that for grandparents with fixed incomes, the money helps provide a sense of normalcy for the children.
While House Bill 4 received a strong support, House Bills 5 and 6 are carefully being considered as some citizen raised concerns with the two bills.
Authored by Representative James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), House Bill 5 would classify the Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) as an executive level agency. That means the department would report directly to the governor instead of to the Health and Human Services Commission. Frank said this would allow DFPS to better manage its staff and streamline decision-making.
Meanwhile, House Bill 6 intends to expand community-based foster care programs across the state which the opponents find the bill will make DFPS an account manager and outsource the care of children to other organizations.