The Texas Council on Children and Families (Council), created by Senate Bill (S.B.) 1646, 81st Legislature, Regular Session, 2009, provides this biennial report to the Legislature on the work of Council member agencies and committees. The report includes recommendations for further developing and maintaining a statewide system of quality health, education, and human services for children and families.
Recommendations from the 2012Council report were updated with the current status of those initiatives to illustrate the forward movement and positive impact that the work of the advisory councils and committees have had on services for the children of Texas (Appendix A).
Continuing its support and coordination with children- and youth-focused state workgroups, Council inventoried relevant and related committees and workgroups to track progress and provide updates on the status of efforts that support the three overarching goals of the Council. This process included review of current legislative reports or strategic plans from relevant interagency groups. The information gathered by the Council during this process assisted in developing their recommendations for the 84th Legislature.
The Council has three overarching goals that form the basis of its work. These goals – strong families, healthy communities, and successful youth – are the framework within which the Council determines its recommendations to the Legislature. The strategies and initiatives below are those that Council recommends for continued or enhanced support.
Goal 1: Strong Families
Recommendation 1: Support funding for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) programs to maintain current services and meet forecasted levels for the 2016-2017 biennium.
Recommendation 2: Support new information technology resources for families to identify and support the special needs of their families. This recommendation can be accomplished through continued funding of the Task Force for Children with Special Needs and its forthcoming website for families, as well as the Little Texans Big Futures website.
Recommendation 3: Increase the number of residential treatment center beds for the Department
of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)/Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Residential Treatment Center Project. The relinquishment slots component of the request will allow DSHS to increase the number of funded beds in private residential treatment centers from 10 to 30 for children/youth with severe emotional disorders who are at risk of parental relinquishment of custody to the DFPS due solely to a lack of mental health resources where the family lives.
Recommendation 4: Support DFPS in creating a Child Safety Office which would allow for a centralized, independent review of child abuse and neglect fatalities and serious/near fatal injuries under DFPS’ purview and sharing these statistics with other data collection entities, such as the State Child Fatality Review Team.
Recommendation 5: Support Expansion of Project Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES). Additional funding for HOPES would allow DFPS to expand access to community-based projects, including evidence-based support services for more than 1,500 military families adjusting to deployment. Funding would also enable HOPES to provide community-based services to families dealing with substance abuse, domestic violence, parenting challenges, and other issues. Such services would reach 850 monthly clients in fiscal year 2016 and 1,080 monthly clients in fiscal year 2017.
Goal 2: Healthy Communities
Recommendation 1: Support the Texas System of Care Consortium (SOC) as a means to serve children with complex mental health needs. Several Texas communities are implementing this proven practice and efforts are underway to expand its use across the state.
Recommendation 2: Provide for expanded cross-agency collaboration to address systemic issues and family-specific needs.
Recommendation 3: Support establishment of a statewide network and delivery system for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to ensure that children with special needs and their families receive supports and services that prevent and reduce challenging behaviors and related crises.
Recommendation 4: Support expansion of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and DSHS Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Waiver which allows for more flexibility in the funding of intensive community-based services and supports for children with serious emotional disorders and their families. The YES waiver services are instrumental in treating the mental health needs of children and helping their families to no longer consider relinquishment as a potential solution
Goal 3: Successful Youth
Recommendation 1: Support development of a comprehensive manual to help students, families, and caregivers participate effectively in the process of youth transitioning to independent living as adults.
Recommendation 2: Support funding for Accelerate Texas to integrate high-demand occupational training with literacy and numeracy education to prepare youth and other individuals for the workforce.
Recommendation 3: Continue funding for expansion of youth prevention and intervention programs and services that have demonstrated success at reducing the likelihood that youth will engage in delinquency, truancy, or dropping out of school.
This report reflects the Council member agencies’ and committees’ work toward a common vision of strengthening families, promoting healthy communities, and ensuring that youth become successful adults