CPS Reform, Foster Care Crisis, Still Top of Mind at the Legislature

At the start of the Texas legislative session, a fix to the state's ailing foster care system was made a priority, but the vast majority of the headlines have been about the so-called bathroom bill and sanctuary cities.

"This is a tough session. There is not a lot of money, but the department of family and protective services has been exempted from a lot of cuts," Judge John Specia tells News Radio 1200 WOAI.

The former commissioner of the Texas Department of Family Protective Services says, behind the scenes, both the Texas House and Senate have passed bills the affect everything from the salaries of caseworkers to the general structure and accountability of the foster care system.  

The big issue, he says, is funding.  

That will get underway today in the Senate Finance committee, which will be discussing appropriations.

"The bills in both the House and the Senate have significant increases when it comes to the kids in foster care," he explains.

That's news to the ears of Marta Pelaez, who runs San Antonio's Battered Women's and Children's Shelter.  The vast majority of their cases involve CPS caseworkers.

"Texas occupies a place of dishonorable distinction when it comes to domestic violence and child abuse," she tells WOAI's Michael Board. "We have to do something."

Judge Specia says there is some frustration that things like the bathroom bill get the headlines, but he's okay with it."

If we get the funds, the resources and the commitment, I'm okay with running under the radar."


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