We at the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services (TACFS) are honored to work for and represent child welfare community organizations such as Arms Wide Adoption Services. While the work of our team is diverse, a significant portion of our work revolves around our advocacy efforts, specifically with child welfare stakeholders, state agencies, and of course, the Texas Legislature. The Texas Legislature is an important and powerful body which creates and finalizes the state budget, passes state laws, and considers potential amendments to our Texas Constitution.
Part of the work of TACFS is to represent the incredible work being done in communities across Texas to better the lives of children, youth, and families, and familiarize the Legislature with various programs and policies that are happening in communities all across the State. We do that through constant communication with our members and rely heavily on you and your team to let us know what is happening in your community and with the children and families you serve! Below is an overview of what the Texas Legislature does and what happened during the Legislative Session that affected the child welfare arena.
The Texas Legislature
The Texas Legislature convenes every odd numbered year for 140 days, and as is expected those days are jam-packed with significant policy discussions, some political rhetoric, and lots of late nights having heated discussions over which programs to fund with state resources and which policy changes are needed to improve and positively benefit all Texans. With all the varying policy areas and political charge towards countless initiatives, you might think the child welfare system is often one policy area that is overlooked.
However, in recent years the Texas Legislature has given a great deal of attention to bettering the foster care system, funding prevention services, and discussing the need for additional high-quality, post-adopt and post-permanency services. While there is still much work to be done within and for Texas’ children and families, the support of the Texas Legislature and Governor towards bettering the child welfare system to improve the lives of the children, youth, and families served in this system is exciting and something that should not be taken for granted.
The 2019 Legislative Session
This legislative session, the Legislature continued to prioritize both through policy and funding, continued support of the child welfare system. Of note was a 5% rate increase given to CPAs for those who serve basic and moderate levels of care. This is an important budget increase funded by the Legislature to mention because it demonstrates the Legislature’s understanding that CPAs provide critical and necessary support to foster families to recruit and retain them, and ensure they are well supported. In addition, this rate increase is significant because it shows the important role CPAs play in growing foster home capacity, and ensuring children are placed when possible in a family-like setting. We were thrilled that the Legislature understood the importance CPAs play in the continuum of care for Texas’ foster care system and hope this rate increase will support the important work being done at Arms Wide Adoption Services.
The Legislature also fully funded DFPS’ request for post-adopt and post-permanency services by funding an additional $3.4 million for post-adopt/post-permanency services over the previous state budget and an additional $2.5 million for additional residential behavior treatment slots. While the amount funded does not meet the demand across Texas, it does demonstrate the Legislature’s commitment to these services. By fully funding DFPS request for this item over the past couple of sessions, it is clear that this is an important population to the Legislature and that post-adopt providers should continue to demonstrate the quality services provided through these programs as well as the additional support that is given to families in need with these resources.
End of Legislative Session Presentation
In totality the Legislature increased funding for the Health and Human Services System and within that significantly increased funding for the child welfare system. For additional information on what was passed and funded this session, click here for our End of Legislative Session Presentation that we hope you will utilize when talking to your teams, stakeholders, and families you serve.
We are hopeful this continued support from state leaders of the child welfare system will continue, but it is imperative that policymakers hear about the incredible work being done to serve children and families every day in communities across Texas. The mission of TACFS is strengthen and continuously improve the services, practices, and care for at-risk children, youth, and families. We hope to accomplish this through a shared vision of all of us together working to build communities of care that provide each child and family the opportunity for a bright future. By telling your story to policymakers and state leaders you are furthering the momentum to continuously improve Texas’ child welfare system for the vulnerable populations we serve. We are incredibly thankful for our partnership with Arms Wide Adoption Services and will continue to share about the amazing work being done in the communities you serve.
Want to get involved in advocacy and learn how you can share your story and experiences? TACFS has an internal advocacy committee made up of our members from all across Texas. Please reach out to Alyssa Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
More About TACFS
Every day, Texas serves tens of thousands of the most vulnerable children and families in the child welfare system. They experience trauma from physical abuse, neglect, poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, and more. The Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services (TACFS) is a network of mission-driven organizations that have embraced the call to serve these children and families, and are working together to improve our care, services, and outcomes statewide.
At TACFS, our responsibility, above all, is to the children, youth, and families across Texas that we serve every day. Our vocation and our passion is to understand and work to undo the damage caused by trauma, create a system where vulnerable children and families experience safety and well being, and maximize the potential of each child and family.
Meet The Author
Alyssa Jones, Vice President of Outreach
Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services
Alyssa joined TACFS as the Director of Outreach in December of 2018. Alyssa comes to TACFS from the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services where she served as the Deputy Committee Director. Prior to her employment in the Texas Senate, she served as the Legislative Director in Representative Cindy Burkett’s office. She spent her time as a staffer in the Texas Legislature focusing on health and human services policy, specifically child welfare policy and legislation. Alyssa has a BA in Psychology from Texas A&M University and completed her graduate studies at The Bush School of Government and Public Service, focusing on health policy and nonprofit management.