Insight into DFPS priorities for 2022-2023

While we can likely all agree that 2020 has been a year that has somehow simultaneously flown by and dragged on, one thing is certain: the 87th Legislative Session is right around the corner and will be here before we know it. This session brings with it lots of unknowns about how it will be conducted, and state departments have been preparing for a tight budget to carry out their operations. The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) recently released their Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) for Fiscal Years 2022-2023 which has given us some insight into their priorities for the children and families they serve. 

Looking Back 

Last session, DFPS started out with a $4.2 billion baseline request and was able to secure more funding in several key areas. With this additional funding, the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) division expanded Project HOPES (Healthy Outcomes though Prevention and Early Support) and Texas Nurse-Family Partnership (TNFP) into four new counties each. DFPS also provided a $6,000 salary increase to Statewide Intake (SWI) staff, which has resulted in decreased turnover and hold times. Increased funding was allocated to increase staffing for the Child Protective Investigations (CPI) and Child Protective Services (CPS) workforce which, according to DFPS, has decreased caseload sizes. Additionally, Community-Based Care received funding to expand to a total of five catchment areas: three in Stage I and two in Stage II (case management). While DFPS achieved its goal to advance two areas into Stage II (Regions 3B and 2), only two areas currently operate in Stage I (Regions 8A and 1). They are re-procuring the contract in Region 8B to hopefully begin Stage I services in the summer of 2021. Provider rates were also increased to help serve the children in their care.  

In light of a global pandemic, state agencies have since had to make adjustments due to the anticipated $4.6 billion shortfall to the entire state budget. State agencies were asked to reduce their expenditures by 5%. While parts of DFPS were exempt from this reduction, DFPS’ total estimated expenditures for Fiscal Years 2020-2021 are estimated to be $4.4 billion.  

Looking Ahead 

DFPS is entering into the next biennium with a $4.5 billion baseline request, which reflects growth forecasts but is impacted by the previous 5% reductions. According to DFPS, this required making some additional funding asks just to get back to a maintenance level of operations. In a typical legislative budget cycle, one would expect numerous exceptional items above DFPS’ baseline request. However, with the current economic climate in the midst of a pandemic and a costly ongoing federal lawsuit, DFPS’ approach to the budget is narrow in scope and only aimed at initiatives they consider to be most necessary. DFPS’ LAR includes requests for an additional $192 million to carry these out. 


While approximately $182 million in exceptional items focus on the functions once a family has experienced crisis, it was most promising to see requests for additional investments in keeping families safely together and preventing removals. DFPS specifically included an exceptional item request for an additional $10 million investment in PEI services, specifically Project HOPES, the Family and Youth Success Program (formerly known as STAR), and the Military Families Program. Citing the costs of each program in comparison to the cost of foster care services, DFPS acknowledged these services as a “cost-effective alternative to foster care.” DFPS also included a placeholder to discuss how to leverage the funding opportunities in the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). Their FFPSA strategic plan provides numerous options to carry out the prevention provisions of this federal legislation, and they want the Legislature to weigh in.  


DFPS has prioritized maintaining its current CPS operations to ensure they are keeping children safe and providing families with the supports they need. This $99 million request includes additional funding to restore the travel costs that decreased during the beginning of the pandemic, ensure they can continue providing services to clients at the current levels, and additional conservatorship (CVS) caseworkers to meet the target caseload sizes.  

To comply with the decade-long federal lawsuit, DFPS included an additional request for $39 million. This amount includes additional staff to meet the heightened monitoring requirements to ensure facilities are adhering to minimum standards and additional staff for Residential Child Care Investigations (RCCI) to address the Court’s concerns about the timeliness and quality of their work. These additional funds also will cover the fees for the court monitors to oversee compliance and report back to the Court. 

To continue the momentum of expanding Community-Based Care, DFPS has requested an additional $44 million in funding for the costs associated with expanding Stage I into four new areas and Stage II into two new areas. 

We look forward to working with DFPS and the Legislature to protect and support investments in child abuse and neglect prevention, to promote family preservation, and to ensure the children and families in their care receive the services they need to be safe and successful. Stay connected with us for updates on budget discussions throughout the session and to find out how you can get involved. 

Here’s How TexProtects Has Been Advocating for Texas Children and Families in October

TexProtects has been hard at work advocating for children and families. Recently, we submitted comments in response to Requests for Information (RFI) from three different legislative committees on how lawmakers can leverage the funding opportunities in the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), invest in early childhood brain development, and ensure the trauma-informed training components of House Bill 18 and Senate Bill 11 from the last legislative session are implemented successfully.

The Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II and the Texas House Human Services Committee asked for the public to weigh in on how Texas is preparing for federal funding changes resulting from FFPSA. With the passage of this federal legislation, states now have access to a funding mechanism for families to be connected to evidence-based, trauma-informed prevention services in the community to prevent removals into foster care. We provided them with our assessment on the Department of Family and Protective Services’ (DFPS) strategic plan on how they plan to implement FFPSA, and we laid out opportunities we see for Texas to take advantage of this potentially transformative legislation. You can check out more specifically what we had to say in our RFI submissions here and here.

The Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II also asked for comments on how the state invests in early childhood brain development. Knowing how critical these early years are, we encouraged the committee to fund community-based, primary child abuse prevention programs for children prenatal to age 5. We also advocated for the expansion of universal prevention strategies in public health settings since healthcare settings remain one of the most universal touchpoints for families with young children and can connect families to critical services during a very vulnerable time. To strengthen families and ensure child safety prior to a crisis, we also took the opportunity to ask the committee to support our additional Prenatal to Three (PN-3) Collaborative agenda items. More information about our comments can be found here.

The Texas Public Education Committee requested recommendations on the 86th Legislature’s House Bill 18 and Senate Bill 11 regarding school safety, student mental health, and trauma-informed training. We suggested providing additional guidance and incentives for pursuing activities that are evidence-based and have the potential to prevent future threats to school safety by preventing and mitigating the effects of adverse childhood experiences. We also provided recommendations on how to implement the trauma-informed training components. You can find more information on our recommendations here.

While we are passionate about making smart investments to ensure families have the resources they need and children are safe, we can’t do this work alone. We need your help to ensure these efforts move forward. Feeling motivated? We encourage you to reach out to your state representatives and talk to them about the importance of these issues and what they can do for the children and families of Texas. Not sure who represents you? You can find out by going here and entering in your information. We look forward to locking arms with you to make Texas better for the children and families who call this state home.

How Will Texas Implement FFPSA?

Texas has moved one step closer to creating a state plan that leverages federal funding to prioritize prevention and family preservation.

In February 2018, Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) which makes available a federal match for state investments in evidence-based and trauma informed supports to families at risk BEFORE a removal occurs. These services address the core drivers of child abuse and neglect including substance use, mental health, and parenting challenges. However, in order to successfully leverage this opportunity, state leaders have a number of crucial decisions to make.

Last legislative session, TexProtects championed Senate Bill 355 authored by Senator West which required the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to develop a strategic plan outlining how they intend to implement the provisions of FFPSA. That plan was released earlier this week.

DFPS’ strategic plan highlights the alignments between the goals of the Department and the goals of FFPSA and offers information and implementation options to support the budgetary decisions in the 87th legislative session that will largely determine the scope of FFPSA’s transformational potential. We applaud the prioritization of prevention and support of kinship caregivers in the state’s plan; however, the plan leaves many critical questions unanswered and may not do enough to target populations at risk of entering foster care.

For a quick overview of the top three items of good news in the plan and the top three areas of concern – see below.

First the good news:

  1. DFPS was awarded $50.3 million in Family First Transition Act funds to help implement the provisions of FFPSA and they intend to utilize $33.9 million of those dollars on prevention. They will be spending the rest of the funds on a Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP) pilot and on IT changes.
  2. DFPS is investing in efforts to better serve informal kinship placements who don’t have as many supports. To ensure caregivers in informal kinship placements know what is available and can be better linked to services, DFPS has issued grants to four providers to complete needs assessments, evaluations, and pilots to support the development of a kinship navigator program. DFPS has also invested in training for 2-1-1 staff on the needs of kinship caregivers they plan to create a marketing campaign designed to ensure kinship caregivers are aware of the resources available to them through 2-1-1.
  3. The DFPS plan includes seven options for expanding prevention services, each with varying degrees of complexity and cost. Approximately half of these options capitalize on and expand the innovative and effective community networks that have been built through the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) division of DFPS. This is a smart solution that will enable Texas to quickly build on existing infrastructure to better support families.

Areas of concern within the DFPS plan include the following:

  1. The state stands to lose $26 million in Title IV-E eligible dollars per year unless there are increased placements available in family-like settings or a QRTP. This will need to be accounted for somewhere in the budget but must not be taken from children and families who are already receiving effective prevention services.
  2. 43% of families who have had an open Family Based Safety Services (FBSS) case have another case of child maltreatment within five years of completing services. DFPS’ definition of who is eligible for prevention services includes families participating in FBSS. While the children and families served by this stage of service naturally and most closely fit the broad federal eligibility criteria of children who are at imminent risk of entering foster care, DFPS acknowledged in this plan that many of the provided services are not evidence-based and do not meet the FFPSA standards. To use this funding as intended will require a significant shift in mentality and accountability for the quality and outcomes of services offered to families in FBSS.
  3. DFPS can define who is eligible for prevention services; however, their suggested definition only captures families who are already engaging with the system. Their definition includes families with an open FBSS case, children who have already been in care but are now are at risk of placement disruption or re-entry, and pregnant and parenting youth in Child Protective Services (CPS) custody. There is room for improvement here to consider other populations at risk as well as more upstream options that support families BEFORE they have an open case and CPS involvement.

Now, it is up to lawmakers to decide the best way to move forward, and the potential impact on children and families will largely be decided on their willingness to prioritize prevention and family preservation. Be on the lookout for the release of our FFPSA Brief that will outline this federal legislation and the Texas plan in more detail later this month.

TexProtects applauds passage of SB 355 (re Family First Prevention Services Act)

May 22, 2019
Contact: Lee Nichols

Austin, Texas — Earlier today, the Texas House passed Senate Bill 355 by Sen. Royce West (sponsored in the House by Rep. Stephanie Klick). This bill directs the Department of Family and Protective Services to develop a strategic plan for the coordinated implementation of community-based care and foster care prevention services that meet the requirements of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act.

TexProtects (the Texas chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America) applauds the passage of this bill by both chambers, resulting in SB 355 being sent to Governor Greg Abbott to be signed into law. Statement from TexProtects Vice President of Public Affairs Pamela McPeters:

We applaud the House for swiftly passing this key piece of legislation and sending it to the governor. The Family First Prevention Services Act marked a major shift in federal spending priorities, allowing money that previously was reserved solely for foster care to now be invested in crucial prevention programs that keep children from ever being removed from their families in the first place – safely protected in their homes. Senate Bill 355 will allow the state to develop a Texas strategy to leverage and maximize these funds for services that empower families to be resilient and self-reliant. FFPSA is a landmark recognition that we must support families before tragedy can occur, not just after it happens.