Report calls for 'dramatic improvement' to CPS

Report calls for 'dramatic improvement' to CPS

Credit: WFAA

Dallas police cover the toddler with flannel material before transporting him to CPS.

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by KVUE.com

KVUE News Austin

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 5:12 PM

AUSTIN -- A new report released Monday finds Texas Child Protective Services caseworkers spend more time doing paperwork and less time with children.

One caseworker cited in the report says, "I love going to see the children, but the paperwork is too much."

The four-month analysis found that caseworkers spend only 26 percent of their time working face-to-face with children and families. One of the many recommendations made was that caseworkers should spend 40 percent of their time with children and families they are assigned.

The mounting paperwork also extends the deadline of closing cases, which leaves families under investigation in limbo, the study found.

"This report gives us an expert, objective view of CPS, and some of the findings are stark," said John Specia, commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees CPS.

The report recommends changes to reduce high turnover among CPS staff, improve the state's ability to find permanent homes for children in foster care and strengthen CPS policies.

Here are a few of the recommendations from the report:

  • Implement Sunset recommendation to halt work on 13 non-essential projects, such as regional work groups, to re-focus attention on CPS' core mission of child protection.
  • Reduce the current seven day safety assessment process to 24-hours to better assess the risk to a child and intervene more quickly in the most serious cases.
  • Make better use of available state databases to more quickly locate families.
  • Improve the ability to find permanent homes for foster children who cannot be reunited with families.
  • Improve materials and services for Spanish-speaking families.
  • Work with the Legislature to eliminate or streamline laws that create unnecessary steps for caseworkers unrelated to child protection.
  • Rewrite the CPS policy guide.
  • Restructure CPS headquarters staff to sharpen the lines of responsibility and accountability.
  • Assign cases based on the needs of children and families, and the capabilities of individual caseworkers, instead of randomly.

CPS manages between 160,000 and 180,000 investigations every year. About one-third of these investigations find abuse.

Commissioner Specia says some of the changes can be made within 90 days.

The Health and Human Services Commission hired The Stephen Group to conduct the review.

Go here to review the recommendations and the assessment of CPS.

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