AUSTIN (KXAN) — Paul Morris, the Assistant Commissioner for Child Care Licensing has announced he will be ending his time at the program this month. Additionally, the Director of Child Protective Services, Colleen McCall, is also resigning.
In his resignation letter, Morris said he is taking a new position as a consultant for emergency responders and the business community. Morris’ last day with CPS will be April 30.
During his time with CPS, Morris helped with national searches into illegal operations. He thanked the team of professionals he worked with during his three year career with CPS.
“You’ve taught me a great deal about Licensing and the critical role we have in reducing risk to children in care,” said Morris. “The volume of work this team is able to accomplish with relatively small staff and resources is demonstrative of your unwavering dedication to our children.”
McCall has worked with CPS for 40 years. For the past 11 years McCall has worked as a part of regional leadership for the state.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the children and families of Texas and to help lead the thousands of staff across the state who directly work with abused and neglected children and their families,” said McCall.
The resignations come at a time when the agency is already going through transition. Commissioner John Specia recently stepped down to make way for new top man Hank Whitman, a retired Texas Ranger. University of Texas law professor and the director of the Children’s Rights Clinic F. Scott McCown said appointing a new commissioner with a background primarily in law enforcement is outside-the-box thinking, but unlikely to change the fortunes of Child Protective Services, unless the state provides more resources.
“Every three years or so, the governor announces we have a new leader and this leader is going to solve the problem and it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen because the problem is a lack of funding,” said McCown, who penned an essay for the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday addressing the agency’s issues. The recent death of a North Texas 4-year-old girl has kicked up pressure on CPS and a lack of funding has led to overworked workers and an overload in cases they must handle according to McCown. He says hundreds on millions of more dollars are needed to pay workers and the recent resignations send a message.
“We are not paying what it takes to get people to do the job and stay on the job,” he said. “People are saying to the state, ‘you are being unfair to us. You are telling us to do things without the tools to do them.'”
During the 2015 legislative session, lawmakers approved an additional $231 million to CPS, but House Speaker Joe Straus released a statement on Tuesday declaring CPS and the foster care system as top priorities for the 2017 session.
“This is not a new challenge or a simple one, but the complexity of the problem is not an excuse for inaction,” said Straus. “Texas children are counting on all of us.”