AUSTIN (KXAN) — Governor Greg Abbott is hoping four new bills will help end the crisis with Child Protective Services.
“House Bills 4, 5 and 7 and Senate Bill 11 “will provide meaningful reform to the state’s child welfare system,” the Governor’s Office said in a release announcing the 10 a.m. signing session.
Details of the bills, according to the Texas Tribune:
- HB 4: Aims to lower financial barriers to kinship care, which places children with relatives or close family friends
- HB 5: Makes CPS a standalone agency that reports directly to the governor
- HB 7: Directs the Department of Family and Protective Services only to remove children from their homes over allegations of violence or abuse
- SB 11: Gives contracted organizations ability to monitor children in foster or adoptive homes
With the signing of these laws, CPS will be able to place more children with relatives, have greater flexibility to address oncoming issues and move towards a community-based system.
In his State of the State address, Governor Abbott made reforming CPS his first emergency item. More than 200 children died in the state’s care in 2016. Prior to the start of the legislative session, $150 million was funneled to the Department of Family Protective Services to hire additional caseworkers as well as increase their salaries.
Almost 50 children enter the state’s foster care system every day. Last year, more than 1,000 children aged out of the system without finding a home.
News broke in 2016 that CPS responded too late or not at all to hundreds of reports of abuse every day.
A day before the signing, three Central Texas fathers were charged with crimes against their children.