Carlos Uresti

Kathy Couser / Texas Public Radio

As Texas lawmakers dig into their second week of the legislative session, Sen. Carlos Uresti, a San Antonio Democrat, is hoping Gov. Greg Abbott will make Child Protective Services and foster care an emergency item. That would allow lawmakers to immediately pass legislation to better protect children. 

Uresti has served 20 years in the legislature. He recently sat down with Texas Public Radio’s Shelley Kofler to talk about why child welfare is once again his top priority.

Texas DPS

As part of the state’s ongoing border security operations, the Department of Public Safety plans to ask the legislature in 2017 for $1 billion.  It is a budget request that has some South Texas lawmakers still asking if the state’s efforts are effective and where is the money being spent?

 

   The package calls for $200-million more than what the legislature budgeted in 2015, making their 2017 request the largest amount of money ever to be requested for the state’s ongoing efforts to secure the Texas-Mexico border.

Mose Buchele / NPR StateImpact

Listen to previous coverage of Sen. Uresti's alleged involvement in a failed investment. Uresti was recently indicted for fraud.

Ryan E. Poppe

The term “crisis” has been used in recent years to describe the state of Texas’ foster care system and state lawmakers are examining what can be done to fix it.

There were 65,000 cases of confirmed child abuse that were investigated by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services in 2015. That’s down by 14 percent, according to state’s Child Protective Services Division.  

But Judge John Specia, the head of the state agency, told lawmakers while those numbers have decreased, 50 percent of case workers are leaving the job because of low pay and high caseloads.

Flickr user Myles Grant / cc

Last week, Governor Greg Abbott announced he wanted $40 million more for the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), so that they could institute reforms to Child Protective Services, a department that has been roundly criticized for years. The announcement came after the third death in three months of a child in the CPS system. 

What is the state of child welfare in the Texas? How are legislators looking to improve it?

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