The Conservative Case For CPS Reform

May 16, 2017

By Rep. James Frank

The state’s child welfare system is a critical focus for the Texas Legislature during the 85th Legislative Session. Governor Abbott made it an emergency item, and the leadership of the House and Senate has repeatedly pledged to improve the beleaguered Child Protective Services (CPS) system. Hundreds of kids in foster care lack a placement in a home. They end up sleeping in offices or hotels, or they get shipped from their hometown to a foster placement in another part of the state. It is a system that does not or cannot act with urgency to ensure that children who have suffered from abuse and neglect can get services they need and be placed in stable, loving homes.

CPS is in need of transformation by making it more accountable to local communities and the children they serve. As a result, legislators are considering proposals from Republicans in both chambers (HB 6 and SB 11) transitioning CPS to a community-based model where foster care services will be managed regionally, enabling collaboration with local stakeholders in order to deliver more innovative, local services to children in foster and kinship care. Community-based care seeks first and foremost to ensure all children remain safe in care. However, the model encourages innovation throughout the system. It enables features such as prioritizing the placement of kids within reasonable distance of their own communities ensuring that children experience minimum placement disruptions and maintain their connections to family and their culture.

In the past, the Legislature has responded to crises in CPS by throwing more money at the status quo. This time, let us choose a path of real reform.

A longtime resident of Wichita Falls, Representative James Frank is currently in his third term in the Texas House of Representatives. Frank serves as the Vice-Chair of the Human Services Committee and is on the Natural Resources Committee and the Local & Consent Calendars Committee.

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