This week, I testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II on their respective starting-point budget proposals for DFPS. This testimony comes a month after the Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Straus (R – San Antonio) introduced HB 1, the House’s recommendations for funding state services in 2016-17, and Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound) introduced SB 2, the Senate’s starting-point 2016-17 Texas budget.
In both draft budget proposals, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) would get an overall increase of five percent, or $156 million, for 2016-17, for a total two-year budget of almost $3.3 billion. Most of the proposed increase would cover the projected caseload growth for entitlement programs such as foster care payments. Aside from administering entitlement programs, keep in mind that DFPS also oversees state child protective services (CPS) programs to investigate neglect and abuse; abuse/neglect prevention programs; child care regulation; and Adult Protective Services.
HB 1/SB 2 Highlights:
- Funding for foster care payments would increase by 3.1 percent in the next biennium to cover the projected increase in state-paid foster children, from 16,590 budgeted for 2015 to 17,140 in 2017. But because of the increased need for services, the average monthly payment per foster child would decrease, from $2,042 in 2015, to $2,040 in 2016, then to $2,029 by 2017.
- Funding would increase by 12.3 percent for adoption subsidies and permanency care assistance payments to accommodate more children in the programs. Monthly adoption subsidies would decrease slightly ($423 in 2015, versus $422 in 2017, on average), while monthly permanency care assistance payments would stay at just under $401.
- By 2017, agency staffing would increase by 107 full-time equivalent employees, or 0.9 percent more compared to 2015. This should reduce CPS caseloads slightly for investigation, family-based safety services, and substitute care services. For Adult Protective Services, caseloads would drop only for Facility Investigations, not for In-Home workers.
- Prevention and early intervention services would receive an increase of 12.7 percent ($10 million) in the 2016-17 budget. Legislative proposals would allow for more youth to be served, but at a lower monthly cost.
Remember that these proposals are just a starting-point recommendation. That’s why now is the time for you to reach out to your legislators and make your voice heard.