As part of our home visiting campaign, we’re bringing you stories from home visiting programs in Texas. Read our full home visiting landscape report here. This story comes from DePelchin Children’s Center, a nonprofit accredited foster and adoption agency with locations in Houston, Austin, Lubbock, and San Antonio. As one of the lead contractors for Project HOPES, DePelchin is utilizing state funds through the Prevention and Early Intervention Division (PEI) at the Department of Family and Protective Services to provide a continuum of evidence-based prevention programs that best meet the needs of their local communities. To learn more about Project HOPES, you can access our one pager here. To learn more about the amazing work of DePelchin Children’s Center, read on.

DePelchin Children’s Center has a history of providing prevention services to families through counseling and parenting programs. In talking with parents, they would often report that they were feeling isolated and “at their wits’ end” with their children. They simply felt they did not have the tools they needed to parent effectively. Some parents even shared the fear that they were at risk of handing their children over to the state because they just didn’t know what to do. They would say things like “I yell, I spank, I take things away and nothing works.” Parents were afraid to ask for help because asking for help meant that they were a “bad parent” or taking a class meant they were involved with CPS. The Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) program changed all that.

DePelchin’s HOPES program, which we call Parenting Help, allows parents to normalize parenting issues and makes it easy to ask for help. It shows the community that parenting is hard for all people. Struggles in parenting cross all racial and socioeconomic lines. Parents truly love their kids but just do not know what to do with them. We recognized that parents were not happy with how they were raising their children but did not know a different way. People would laughingly say that “my kids don’t come with an instruction manual–what am I supposed to do?” This is what helped us create the idea of Parenting Help and the tagline “Kids don’t come with instruction manuals – we can help. Parenting Help.”

Many say that it takes a village to raise a child, and we realized it would take a collaboration. We created partnerships with other child and family service agencies to provide a menu of options under the HOPES program to give parents what they need instead. In addition to the formal partnership funded by HOPES, the agencies involved connected with other child serving agencies throughout the community to form the Parenting Help Collaborative. This group meets regularly to support and leverage resources and make sure HOPES families receive what they need.

Families complete the HOPES Parenting Help program and report that they enjoy coming home from work and spending time with their child rather than avoiding them. This program gives us the opportunity to see parents encourage change in their children’s behavior so things like going to the grocery store after a long day are no longer a struggle. They learn how to count apples and sing songs down the aisle while praising their children and how this increases positive behavior while also managing misbehavior. Parents learn they can manage their children’s behavior, teach their children a skill, and spend quality time all in the same moment. It is so empowering for these families who at first felt so out of control with their children to realize that they now have the ability to help their child behave in positive ways. They now know they are the most important person in that child’s life and can make a huge impact.

HOPES has allowed us to implement these services in each county in a way that best meets the needs of that community. Not every community is the same and we can tailor each program to what the parents and children in that county need. We are so grateful for the HOPES program and blessed to be part of seeing these changes in families.   

TexProtects would like to thank Julie Crowe, Charity Eames, and Megan Green at DePelchin Children’s Center for their tireless work for children and families and for sharing their Project HOPES story through this blog.

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.