The State Budget: Building Upon Success

By Pamela McPeters
TexProtects Vice President of Public Affairs

The budget is one of the most significant responsibilities of the Texas Legislature. The Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees of the 86th Legislature will soon be underway crafting the fiscal years 2020-2021 General Appropriations Act. As these committees work on competing interests, including school finance, Hurricane Harvey obligations and many others, it is imperative they prioritize the safety and well-being of Texas children. The child protective services system is experiencing increased pressure which requires investments to continue and build upon the progress made in the 85th Legislative Session. Pressure includes:

  • Abuse/neglect reports are projected to increase by 2.1% in FY 2020 over FY 2019 and 2.3% in FY 2021 over FY 2020.
  • Investigations are projected to increase by 2.5% in FY 2020 over FY 2019 and 2.6% in FY 2021 over FY 2020.
  • The number of confirmed findings of child abuse and neglect is projected to increase by 1.2% in FY 2020 over FY 2019 and 0.9% in FY 2021 over FY 2020.
  • Client Services Adoption Subsidies and Permanency Care Assistance caseloads are projected to grow 4.2% in FY 2020 and 8.6% in FY 2021 above FY 2019.
  • Day Care is projected to increase 7.1% children served in FY 2020 and a 13.5% in FY 2021 above the projected FY 2019 levels.
  • Purchased Client Services are projected to increase 5.0% in average monthly client caseloads in FY 2020 and 10.0% in FY 2021 above FY 2019.
  • Foster Care caseloads (FTEs) are projected to grow by 0.3% in FY 2020 and by 0.4% in FY 2021 relative to FY 2019 projected caseloads.

Below are some key priorities for funding:

#1 Expand Prevention Services (DFPS Exceptional Item 8)

Additional Details may be found on pages 534-536 of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR)

$18.5 million to expand HOPES program into additional counties and increase families served from 4,660 families expected to be served in fiscal year 2019 to 7,060+ families served in fiscal years 20 and 21, an expansion of 26%.

Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) is a flexible, community-based approach to child abuse and neglect prevention in high-risk counties by increasing protective factors of families served. Currently serves families in 55 Texas counties with children ages 0-5 at risk for abuse and neglect. Families are commonly referred to HOPES by community organizations, clinics, school districts, or self-referral. Families generally participate in HOPES services for 3-12 months.

$12 million provide for a targeted expansion to increase the number of families served through Texas Nurse-Family Partnership from 2,725 families in fiscal year 2019 to 3,975+ families in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, a 20% increase.

Texas Nurse Family Partnership (TNFP) is a voluntary program in which registered nurses regularly visit the homes of low-income women pregnant with their first child. Families must start services with TNFP by their 28th week of pregnancy and can receive services until the child reaches two years of age. TNFP Serves expecting parents, new parents, and caregivers of children under the age of 2. Families are commonly referred by WIC, community clinics, school districts, and health plans. Families generally participate in TNFP services for two years.

In addition we have additional background on HOPES and TNFP here.

#2 Maintain Client Services (DFPS Exceptional Item 2)

Additional Details may be found on pages 516-518 of the DFPS LAR

 $79.3 million for Day Care Services to address growth for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

Day care services for children while biological parents are receiving services to preserve the family and/or when a child is placed with a relative, along with while a child is in foster care, increase safety. These services may provide for immediate or short-term safety from abuse and neglect; prevent the child from being removed from the home; allow the child to be reunited with the family; address the developmental needs of a child whose physical, social, emotional, cognitive, or language developmental delay is a significant factor in the risk of abuse or neglect in the home; and help stabilize the family.

 $52.3 million for Client Services for children and their families starting from intake, relative caregiver homes, foster and adoptive homes and post-adoption.

These services may include evaluation and treatment services, parent/caregiver training, and substance abuse assessments and treatment (individual, family and group counseling).

#3 CPS Initiatives and Operations (DFPS Exceptional Item 5)

Additional Details may be found on pages 525-530 of the DFPS LAR

$17.8 million to support CPS initiatives including, preparation for adult living skills assessment for older youth, determine eligibility, improve permanency and other frontline staff, case management for certain youth in extended foster care, services for children post-adoption and post-permanency, and medical services staff.

In addition, funding will support case management for youth with complex needs in extended foster care, behavioral health services to promote permanency, and support medical wellbeing.

 #4 Maintain Caseloads (Exceptional Item 1)

Additional Details may be found on pages 513-5515 of the DFPS LAR.

 $106 million to maintain average daily caseloads at manageable levels for CPS Investigations (13.9 cases), Conservatorship (23.1 cases), Foster/Adopt (17.3 cases), and Kinship (31.4 cases) and reduce statewide intake hold times by about half.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of key Child Protective Services line items from the House and Senate proposed budgets. After each chamber passes its respective version of the budget, they will then have to agree on a final version to send to Governor Greg Abbott.

House Bill 1 Senate Bill 1 Difference in SB1 from HB1 DFPS LAR Base Request DFPS Exceptional Item Request
2020-21 2020-21 2020-21 2020-21 2020-21
STATEWIDE INTAKE 45,903,260 45,903,260 0 45,903,260 16,868,045
A.1.1. Statewide Intake Services 45,903,260 45,903,260 0 45,903,260 16,868,045
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES 3,702,740,868 3,698,484,378 (4,256,490) 3,629,796,180 323,927,022
B.1.1 CPS Direct Delivery Staff 1,478,091,278 1,536,903,280 58,812,002 1,517,333,763 143,204,700
B.1.2 CPS Program Support 89,541,930 90,159,264 617,334 90,508,294 12,444,948
B.1.3 TWC Contracted Day Care 197,539,038 197,539,038 0 140,245,446 84,278,580
B.1.4 Adoption Purchased Services 19,563,842 19,563,842 0 19,563,842 7,056,161
B.1.5 Post – Adoption/Post-Permanency 6,976,442 6,976,442 0 6,976,420 5,854,961
B.1.6 PAL Purchased Services 17,987,420 17,987,420 0 17,987,420 386,672
B.1.7 Substance Abuse Purchased Services 16,344,380 16,344,380 0 16,344,380 24,234,694
B.1.8 Other CPS Purchased Services 78,271,948 78,271,948 0 78,271,948 10,640,296
B.1.9 Foster Care Payments 779,127,440 1,041,748,299 262,620,859 1,049,176,063 29,108,240
B.1.10 Adoption/PCA Payments 612,413,881 612,413,881 0 615,753,103
B.1.11 Relative Caregiver Payments 80,576,584 80,576,584 0 77,635,479 6,717,770
B.1.12 Community-Based Care Payments 326,306,685
PREVENTION PROGRAMS 209,424,985 209,424,985 0 209,424,985 31,242,687
C.1.1 STAR Program 48,624,721 48,624,721 0 48,624,721 9,228,000
C.1.2 CYD Program 16,845,117 16,845,117 0 16,845,117 4,083,600
C.1.3 Child Abuse Prevention Grants 6,574,786 6,574,786 0 6,574,786 800,000
C.1.4 Other At-Risk Prevention 59,179,881 59,179,881 0 59,179,881 9,955,634
C.1.5 Home Visiting Programs 63,319,104 63,319,104 0 63,319,104 5,530,800
C.1.6 At-Risk Prevention Program 14,881,376 14,881,376 0 14,881,376 1,644,663

TexProtects report, lawmakers call for statewide strategy on Adverse Childhood Experiences

January 16, 2019
Contact: Lee Nichols

Photos of the press conference available upon request. See video of the press conference here.

Science Meets Policy

ACEs Uncovered: Powerful preventative strategies to promote resilience and brain health for a better Texas tomorrow

Austin, Texas — Adverse experiences early in life, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs, can result in trauma that potentially affects the brain architecture of developing children. In 2016, an estimated 3.4 million Texas children had one or more ACE. Child maltreatment in its many forms makes up half of the recognized ACEs. Advocacy group TexProtects, Champions for Safe Children, estimates child maltreatment cost Texas over $55 billion in 2017.

A coordinated, statewide strategy across the healthcare, child welfare, early childhood education and justice systems can prevent and mitigate the impact of trauma, and equip children, families and communities with the resilience to have healthy futures.

That’s the conclusion of ACEs Uncovered: Powerful preventative strategies to promote resilience and brain health for a better Texas tomorrow, a new report by TexProtects, unveiled Wednesday at the Texas State Capitol. Flanked by Texas lawmakers, TexProtects CEO Sophie Phillips said that building a statewide collaboration will take the support of the 86th Texas Legislature.

“Chronic health problems, criminal or risky behaviors, and poor academic and workforce performance can all result from ACEs – but with the right support structures and prevention strategies, it doesn’t have to be that way,” Phillips said. “With the help of our lawmakers, Texas can build a cross-systems, preventative approach that leads to self-sufficient families, healthier children and taxpayer savings.

“TexProtects will push for this coordinated system throughout the legislative session, especially on February 12, when we will bring child protection advocates, including 125 seventh-grade students from Dallas, from across the state to the Capitol for a day of action,” Phillips added.

Katherine Snyder, Child Abuse Pediatrician for the CARE Team at Dell Children’s Hospital, provided some expert perspective on ACEs: “Stress is a normal part of life, but exposure to chronic stress has important consequences on the short and long term physical and psychological health of the child and the adult they become. Intervening as early as possible to create safe environments, healthy and protective relationships and empower healthier coping mechanisms for the child and caregiver is paramount to the overall health of the community and society.”

Phillips and key lawmakers laid out three priorities for the session, which began on January 8:
• Develop and implement a statewide strategic plan to address causes and symptoms of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
• Strengthen investments in community-based, primary child abuse prevention programs like home visiting.
• Improve coordination and effectiveness of services for children at risk of entering foster care.

Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, said that the emerging science of Adverse Childhood Experiences must be thoroughly ingrained into Texas’ care of children who have been abused and neglected. On Tuesday, he introduced House Bill 4183 which will facilitate coordination of agencies in developing a statewide strategic plan.

“In the past, when children or adults have engaged in high-risk or socially unacceptable behaviors, our reaction was to ask, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Today, we realize the better question is, ‘What happened to you?’ If the adults in their life helping them on that journey don’t understand what they’ve endured and how it still affects them, then those children have higher odds of falling short in education, in health – including mental health – and in personal relationships,” Parker said.

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond and a physician who served as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee in the 85th Legislature, spoke of the value of making prevention programs available to families:

“Evidence-based, voluntary prevention programs such as home visiting produce stronger, more self-sufficient families, and save taxpayers money. But Texas is reaching only 5% of the 423,000 families with children under 6 who can benefit from prevention services. We can do better! Investments in proven programs, such as Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) and Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) prevent negative outcomes and avert costs in the criminal justice, health care and educational systems,” Zerwas said.

In its legislative appropriations request, the Department of Family and Protective Services is asking for $5.5 million to help NFP reach an additional 550 families in each year of 2020 and 2021, in turn saving Texas taxpayers over $31 million by preventing negative outcomes. DFPS is also requesting to expand the community-driven HOPES program by $9.4 million to reach an additional 1,200 families.

Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas and a TexProtects Advisory Board member, emphasized the need for the Legislature to leverage new federal funds made available by the Family First Prevention Services Act. Tuesday, he introduced Senate Bill 355 to enable this.

“Family First provides flexibility for states to use money previously reserved only for foster care and channel it toward programs that prevent children from ever being removed from their homes. But the Legislature will need to strengthen the infrastructure and effectiveness of programs eligible for Family First funds,” West said.

“Last session, the Legislature and Governor identified child abuse and neglect as a key issue and took historic steps in changing how our state deals with it. But it is critically important that state leaders and the public realize: The efforts in 2017 did not mark an end point in Texas’ fight against child abuse and neglect – it marked a beginning,” Phillips said.

Advocates wishing to RSVP for TexProtects’ Child Abuse Prevention Day at the Texas Capitol on February 12 (including a free, round-trip bus ride between Dallas and Austin) may do so at

ACEs Uncovered: Powerful preventative strategies to promote resilience and brain health for a better Texas tomorrow may be accessed any time at


TexProtects, Champions for Safe Children, was created to tackle issues of Child Protective Services (CPS) reform, prevention and public awareness to bring a collective, organized voice representing the needs of children at risk of abuse and survivors of child abuse and neglect. TexProtects is the Texas Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. TexProtects is autonomous, nonpartisan and nonpolitical, designed to educate decision makers, private funders and the public at large. To date, it is the only Texas organization that has a dedicated focus on the main issues of protection, prevention, and healing of abused and neglected children. For more information, please visit

ACEs Uncovered

Preventative strategies to promote resilience and brain health in children in Texas.

View the Report.