We are so close to the end of the Texas Legislative Session! Next week any remaining bills will hopefully be voted out of the Legislature and sent to the Governor. This week was an exciting week where all Committees had their final committee hearings and final decisions for the state budget were released. Next week the House and Senate will vote out final bills and vote on the final decisions for the state budget. If everything runs smoothly, the last day of session will be May 27th!
Today the House and Senate conference committee on House Bill 1 otherwise known as the bill which determines the state budget for the next two years released its recommendations. These recommendations will now be considered and voted on by each Chamber and then the bill will be decided upon by the Governor. We are still working through the decisions, but we wanted to share a few decisions with you:
– HOPES received $1.4 million in additional funding to expand to new regions
– Emergency Shelter rates were increased from $129 to $137
– Moderate residential rates were increased from $103 to $108
– CBC funded 2 new regions for phase one and 3 current catchment areas regions for phase 2
– Rider approved for HHSC to contract with a third party and consult with DFPS to review foster care rate methodology
– Post-adopt request from DFPS was fully funded
We will be compiling a more detailed report on funding, that we will share in the near future. Please let us know if you have any questions!
Status of Bills
The Texas Legislature is a week and a half away from the end of session otherwise known as “sine die.” As a general rule, all bills need to be out of House and Senate Committees by tomorrow, which means that if a bill has not been voted out by tomorrow it will not make it to the Governor’s desk to potentially become law. This week both the House and Senate Committees have been working tirelessly to vet bills and determine which bills should move forward in the legislative process. Here is an update on where bills the TACFS team has been tracking currently stand:
HB 72 which allows for STAR Health benefits for certain adopted children from the foster care system was voted out of the Senate Health and Human Service Committee this week. HB 1884 which would require a CPS caseworker as well as the court to notify a relative caregiver of the benefits of becoming a foster parent was also voted out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. HB 123 which would allow for waiving the fee for homeless youth to receive a license was also voted out of Committee. Finally, HB 3950 was also voted out of this Committee which would establish a legislative commission to oversee Community Based Care and Families First implementation in Texas.
SB 781 which reforms the regulatory requirements and standards for Residential Treatment Centers was voted out of the Texas House and will soon be sent to the Governor’s desk. HB 811 passed to the Governor’s desk which would require school districts to consider a student’s status as a foster or homeless youth when considering appropriate disciplinary measures. HB 1702 also passed and will be sent to the Governor’s desk. This bill requires a foster care liaison at a higher education institution to have better information on the students.
Families First Transition and Support Act
There is an exciting bill up for discussion at the federal level that would grant additional flexibility and support towards state implementation of the Families First Prevention Services Act. TAFFS has signed on in support of this bill known as the Families First Transition and Support Act. Click here to see a list of organizations who have signed on in support of this bill. This U.S. Senate version of this bill has been filed by Senators Brown (Ohio), Stabenow (Michigan), Klobuchar (Minnesota), and Gillibrand (New York). This bill seeks to:
- Eliminate the Federal Title IV-E foster eligibility requirements for foster family homes tied to the 1996 Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) law, commonly referred to as the “look back,” which limits Federal foster care support to only those children removed from very low-income families;
- Expand funding for kinship support services, including childcare, transportation, and legal services to ensure families have access to services that meet their needs and keep children safe in their homes;
- Provide states with more time to develop the research base for prevention programs they want to use by delaying the 50% well-supported requirement;
- Enhance funding for caseworker training and development;
- Provide additional funds for State-directed research to develop interventions to meet Family First evidenced-based requirements, strengthen families, improve service delivery for youth victims of trafficking, and reduce inter-generational poverty;
- Boost funding for Regional Partnership Grants to allow more local and regional groups to address parental substance use and child well-being;
- Enhance funding for the child welfare Court Improvement Program;
- Provide new time-limited resources to support quality foster parent recruitment and retention;
- Provide short-term Federal support to help States meet Family First licensing and accreditation standards for quality residential treatment programs and therapeutic foster care settings; and
- Provide additional resources and improvements for tribal child welfare programs.
An identical version of this bill was filed in the U.S. House this week by Representative Bass (California).
TACFS has also signed onto a letter requesting additional CAPTA funding. As you know CAPTA authorizes formula grant funding to states to improve their child protective services and funding to states for support of community-based activities to prevent child abuse and neglect. The letter which will be sent to the entire U.S. House and Senate is requesting substantial increases in federal funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) – specifically, $500 million for Title I and $500 million for Title II. Click here to see the letter.
Announcement from DFPS
In ongoing efforts to enhance our placement process, we are working on the development of a Child Placement Portal. The Portal will assist in placement searches as well as capacity information. We need information from you as we continue to progress with this project. Please complete the below 4-question survey. The purpose of this survey is to obtain information on your current case management system.
Please complete survey as soon as you can.
To take the survey, please copy and paste the below URL into a new browser window:https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GH2RY2H