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Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Department of Family and Protective Services
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.jpg
Agency overview
Preceding agencies
  • Department of Protective and Regulatory Services
  • Department of Human Services
HeadquartersAustin, Texas
Employees12,740 (2018)
Annual budget$2,026,476,529 USD (2018))
Agency executive
  • Hank Whitman, Commissioner
Child agencies
  • Child Protective Services
  • Adult Protective Services
  • Statewide Intake
John H. Winters Human Services Center includes the headquarters for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
John H. Winters Human Services Center includes the headquarters for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is responsible for investigating charges of abuse, neglect or exploitation of children, elderly adults and adults with disabilities. Prior to its creation in 2004, the agency had been called the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS).[1][2]

According to the Texas Attorney General, DFPS is neither a juvenile nor an adult criminal justice agency.[3] The Texas Juvenile Justice Department is the state juvenile justice agency, while the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is the adult justice agency.

The agency is headquartered at the John H. Winters Human Services Center at 701 West 51st Street in Austin.[4]

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This is probably the best job I've ever had. What I like about this job is being able to make a difference. This is rough reality. This would be a horrible job if you didn't care about people. Well the people who are like, I want to help, I encourage that, I'm ok, well then this is the job for you. The job as a CPS investigator is to investigate reports that we receive on a statewide level regarding abuse or neglect to children. We receive reports based on the county in which the family resides. Once we receive the report it's assigned to a particular unit and then a particular caseworker. When I get a report of abuse or neglect, the first thing I do is look at the history of the family. From there I go out and visit the children. I visit people that know the children, the family dynamics, I go to meet with the parents, get medical information. I do school collaterals and from there I go ahead and look for resources to help the family out. When you first knock on a door you can be a little anxious and nervous. You don't know what's behind the door. Today though I'm revisiting a family who is involved in domestic violence and they are in north Austin. There is an emergency protective order in place and I'm here to check the children again and mom to make sure everything is ok because I want to make sure, one, that he's not trying to come back here and law enforcement have not come here looking for him so I want to make sure that he doesn't come back and tries to get in and if he comes back don't open the door and tell your son do not open the door. Tell him to leave the residence otherwise you're going to call the law enforcement and so then he'll go, because we do not want him in this house. I do not want anything to happen. You've got a great kid, you do a good job with him and you need to be here for him. When investigations determines that the family needs more assistance, that's when they send it on to Family Based Safety Services so that we can help them strengthen their family, strengthen their parenting. We have a lot of parents that have not had the experience of having good role models as they were growing up so they don't know how to do a lot of things. Maybe they don't they're not very good at cleaning and I have to show them, you know, this is how you organize things. Maybe they're not very good at talking with their children. We want our families to succeed because children deserve to be raised by their parents, they deserve to be there, parents deserve to be part of their children's lives. So when the investigator determines that a child is not safe in their home one of the options is to remove the children and when that happens the children can be placed either in foster care or in what we call a kinship home and a kinship home is a family or friend, someone the child knows and is comfortable with where it's safe for the child to stay in the meantime. So today I've got three visits scheduled and my first stop is a kinship caregiver but she's basically like the children's grandmother. She's tried to be there to support them, she's championed the things that they've done well and she's tried to help the parents make better decisions. This is the kid's room. Oh, and that's mother kitty. She's the queen of the house. Is she a mother? Yeah, she was once upon a time but she's no longer doing those duties. Both girls are still on the bottom and Eli's on top? Yeah, he's on top. And we may have to do something different if you become a licensed foster parent so, you know, if you need to get a bed let me know, there are ways we can help with the bed also. He, that's in the works, hopefully. Our role is to ease the transition for the families. Foster families have been through a lot of training, they know what they're getting into whereas kinship families often don't really know what they're getting into, there's a lot of complications with the CPS system, with the legal system. They may not realize what's really happening in the home with the children, they may have a lot of things to deal with with the parents and so in kinship our role is help them through all of those difficulties. What we do is we help children who have been removed from their home and placed into foster care or kinship placement. Kinship placement is when they're placed with a relative. We give the family the opportunity to get the child returned to them. They have usually have between 12 and 18 months to get the child back and to do that, they have to go to court with us and demonstrate that they've changed their behavior so that the child will be safe in their care. We also montly visit the child to make sure the child is safe in their current placement. So can you read me a story? Twinkle twinkle little star, a bedtime story. We facilitate visitation with the child and parent. We sometimes assist the parent with transporation to various courses and classes they have to take so they can learn new skills to make them safer and more capable to be a parent for their child. More often then not, the parents starts their time with CPS hating us. They don't like us, they don't like the fact that we're involved with their life and normally I get told that they didn't do anything wrong, CPS is wrong for interfering with their business and so their just already angry by the time I get the case. It's my job to try to de-escalate the situation to talk to them to get them to work with me. Sometimes I'm successful and then sometimes I'm not. I've had parents who just refuse to work with the agency at all and that's very frustrating because we're here to help. In order to adopt a child the process can take anywhere from six months to one year. We need an adoptive home study. They need licensed to adopt. We interview the family. We present the child's case to them so once they're chosen to be a permanent home the child will need to be placed in the home for six months before we can proceed to consummate the adoption. This agreement is showing that you are in agreement with making your home for an adoptive placement from today until the adoption. In order to match a child with a family, first of all we need to know the child very well. I need to know his life, his diagnosis, what kind of behaviours he exhibits at home, at school. Do you all get along well? Yeah. You all don't fight right? The reason we wait six months is to provide support services and ensure that the child is well adjusted, that the family is able to manage and that it's a successful placement. We want to be supportive for all these adoptive families. If you like things that are regimented and predictable, this is not the job for you. What I tell my caseworkers is the only thing that's constant about investigations is change. And it can be fast paced because everybody wants it now. They want to make sure that child is safe, then they want you to get everything documented, um, then you're put on another case while you're documenting this case, trying to contact this family member while you're also trying to go back and revisit other familes, and other cases, so you juggle. I can plan for just being in my office all day long but then I get a call and I have to go out. I have to go pick up the kid because the placement broke down. I have to go transport a child to a doctor appointment because the parent can't all of a sudden. There, you just never know sometimes what you're day's going to be like. We're up early in the morning. I've met clients at seven o'clock in the morning before they go to work. I drive around and meet them on their lunchtime. I've gone on construction sites to meet with individuals so we do what is necessary to get that information to make sure the child is safe. You definitely cannot take the bus to do this job. You're going to need your own car it's going to need to be a reliable car and you're going to have to be able to pay for all the things that are going to be required to do the job. Eventually you will get paid back, mileage, you get a mileage reimbursment for it but when your car is being driven an extra 500 or 700 miles a month then you're going to have more maintenance costs as well so you have to be prepared to do all that yourself. You can't go into this job expecting everything to be rainbows and roses. There are going to be hard times. There are going to be times where you're like, why am I even doing this because you feel as though you've failed. You have failed. It takes an emotional toll because you're seeing situations that you have no control over that you can't make better or you see children being hurt. The most frustrating part of this job for me is the removal of a child or child death. I, that's heartbreaking. You have to recover from that and you don't really get a time to process it because you have to go on to the next case. One of the cases that really sticks with me is involving domestic violence. We recieved a report concerning domestic violence between mom and the father to one of her children. She was, she appeared very protective and we had given her resources to the local domestice violence shelter for counseling services and the actual perpetrator, the aggressor, he was not living in the home, and mom signed plans to the effect he wouldn't be in the home, and then on Halloween, following about a month after the investigation had come in, he entered the home and he murdered the mother and then he shot himself and you always just look back and think what else could have been done? I played that investigation over in my head a multitude of times, and felt that as an agency we had done what we could, we had offered services, but people are just unpredictable and there are just a lot of things we can't control. One thing that I do in particular when I have very bad days, um, I will go and visit my daughter and my grandchildren, just so that I can sit and watch them and say this is why I do what I"m doing because every child deserves to have a happy home and to grow up like this, and then it makes it OK then I can go on for another day. When an individual is hired to be a CPS investigator or an FBSS specialist or a CVS specialist, they're going to go through a training program where they'll be given an individualized training plan, also called the ITP. With the ITP they are assigned a mentor. The mentor can be a certified mentor whose been with the agency two years or more or it can be a mentor candidate whose been with the agency a year or more. That protege, that new hire, will follow that mentor throughout the duration of their day so if that mentor works 8 to 8 then that protege is with that mentor from 8 to 8, 80 percent of the training is going to be on the job field training and 20 percent is going to be in the classroom. The proteges are followed, they're given regular feedback, they meet with supervisors weekly, they meet with their mentors every day, they are actually able to work on real cases, they're seeing real families, they're seeing real services, they're seeing real home visits and they're doing more inside the home than working with actual investigators then spending time in a classroom. If your unit is really connected and really supportive of each other then they can help you out. Also, they're someone to talk to when things get difficult, when things get overwhelming because they're in the same boat as you and sometimes they have techniques that you're not aware of to help them cope, help them get things done quicker and sometimes they're finished with whatever they had to take care of and they can help you out. To do this job I believe that it takes a character, a type of character where you're gonna have a passion for what you do, you have to put everything that you have into this job, in terms of, if something is not done at the end of the day, then you could potentially be leaving a child at risk. The skills necessary to be successful in my job is, first of all, having people skills, you have to be, you will be engaging with people all time. And you're talking to people who are angry and upset and, you know, the job is to help whittle through what it is that they're upset about and, you know, help them out with that and if you don't care you're just going to get worn out. It's going to beat you down, and it's going to happen quickly. A good investigative caseworker needs to be organized, they need to be very detail oriented. They need to be well spoken and well written. They also need to be able to adapt to change and that is very constant in this agency. They need to be able to work long hours and handle the stress, that comes along with this job. The qualities necessary to be a good caseworker are patience, a willingness to help. Have sympathy, empathy, and a passion. A person has to be willing to roll up their sleeves, get in the middle of everything, and clean up. You can't have a chip on your shoulder, I mentioned that earlier and you can't go in here thinking, ok, I dislike this person because of what they've done. I dislike this person because of the way they dress. You can't do that. You have to go in and be polite, be nice. I think there are many people that probably are not suited to handle this job. You have to separate your emotions, at the end of the day you have to make sure you have a good balance. You have to make sure that you can separate your work from your personal life. You have to make sure that if the work does affect you in ways that is becomes concerning that you reach out for help and that you ask someone for help but it does take a particular type of character, to do this job and to be able to have that separation. I think one of the biggest perks of working here is the mobility, all of our caseworkers are mobile, you have the ability to work from Starbucks if you'd like. You have the ability to work from your home if you'd like. You have the ability to spend your morning documenting and then doing afternoon home visits or vice versa, um, you have the ability to schedule your day how it best works for you. For me, I would be horrible for just sitting at an office so I like to be out and doing things. I don't like to be doing the same thing, you know, day after day, I want to be meeting new people and for me, that sort of keeps me going. Seeing my kids graduate from high school is one of my favorite things to do. I love going to the graduation, being there, getting to clap for them, celebrate with them afterwards. I love seeing my kids. I spend time with them playing on the floor, reading books. It's just so rewarding to see these kids succeed and go on and do better things after what they came from. If you're thinking about a career in CPS, you have to ask yourself, you know, how hard are you willing to work because this is not going to be a job that is easy, um, but if you do care about making a difference with children then you can make a huge difference. I do this job because I like seeing a difference in a person's life. I like to see a success story and, um, that's what we're looking for and sometimes you don't get success stories but when you do get one it just makes you just feel great inside, energetic. What I like about this job is being able to make a difference, being able to change the lives of children, change the lives of parents, change generations. If someone is thinking about taking this job I'll tell them that if they're doing it for the money, it's not the job for them. But if they want to help, if they want to go out there and change somebody's life, if they can be flexible, this job might just be the one that they're looking for. This is probably the best job I've ever had. I've worked at this agency for seven years, um, I have a passion for it. I can't imagine honestly can't imagine working anywhere else. If you have the passion and you have the drive and you have the want to be here this is definitely the job to have.



The DFPS undertakes five major tasks:

  • Adult protective services
  • Child protective services
  • Child care licensing
  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Statewide intake[5]


It was created effective February 1, 2004 by House Bill 2292 of the 78th Texas Legislature (2003) as the first new agency in a major reorganization of Texas's health and human services system.[6] The change was made to help "consolidate organizational structures and functions, eliminate duplicative administrative systems, and streamline processes and procedures that guide the delivery of health and human services to Texans."[7]

Comptroller findings

DFPS has a documented history of issues with children placed in its care. A 2004 report by Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn was very critical of the Texas foster care system.[8] A follow-up statement with continued criticisms of the Texas foster care system was made in 2006 by the Comptroller and renewed a request to have the governor create a Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team.[9]

The Comptroller stated that in fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively 30, 38 and 48 foster children died in the state's care. The number of foster children in the state's care increased 24 percent to 32,474 in Fiscal 2005, while the number of deaths increased 60 percent. Compared to the general population, a child is four times more likely to die in the Texas foster care system. In 2004, about 100 children were treated for poisoning from medications; 63 were treated for rape that occurred while under state care including four-year-old twin boys, and 142 children gave birth. A 12-year-old boy died in December 2005, suffocated while being restrained from behind by an employee of the facility. Another died May 30, after drowning in a creek during a bicycle outing. A three-year-old was treated for poisoning from an atypical, mind-altering anti-psychotic drug.

The Comptroller's office also found significant financial problems in a 2005 audit of DFPS.[10]

YFZ Ranch FLDS raid

Gene Grounds of Victim Relief Ministries reported no hysteria or crying children from children removed from the ranch. He commended CPS workers as exhibiting compassion, professionalism and caring concern.[11]

John Kight, chairman of an organization that provided mental health workers to assist FLDS children and mothers from the YFZ Ranch recounted to the Texas governor's office that DFPS' Child Protective Services had seemed out of control at the temporary shelters, describing "how abusive CPS was and how they've trampled all over their rights."[12] One of the workers who assisted at the shelter remarked that "wonderful loving women and children are being treated like convicts in a concentration camp by the state of Texas".[13] Another wrote "I have never seen women and children treated this poorly, not to mention their civil rights being disregarded in this manner" after assisting at the emergency shelter. "The CPS workers were openly rude to the mothers and children, yelled at them for tryin to wave to friends.. threatened them with arrest if they did not stop waving"[13] Workers took notes on everything the "guests" said. Some compared it to a prison or concentration camp. By contrast, one worker noted the children were "amazingly clean, happy, healthy, energetic, well behaved and self-confident," while the mothers were "consistently calm, patient and loving with their children."

Ultimately, both the Court of Appeals for the Third District and the Texas Supreme Court found that CPS improperly removed all the children and ordered them returned to their parents.

Caregivers who were previously forbidden to discuss conditions working with CPS later produced unsigned written reports expressed anger at the CPS traumatizing the children, and for disregarding rights of mothers who appeared to be parents of healthy, well-behaved children. CPS threatened some workers with arrest, and the entire mental health support was dismissed the second week due to being "too compassionate." Workers believed poor sanitary conditions at the shelter allowed respiratory infections and chicken pox to spread.[14]

After being removed from the temporary shelters the FLDS children were placed in 16 group shelters and foster homes. Minors with children were sent to the Seton Home in San Antonio, older boys to Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in Amarillo. Some parents stated on the Today Show that they were unable to visit their boys due to a shortage of CPS staff. Newspapers released names of facilities caring for the FLDS children that have requested donations of specific items, help or cash.[15]

2011 lawsuit

The DFPS has also been the subject of a recent lawsuit alleging, among other complaints, that foster children are inappropriately placed in restrictive institutional settings.[16] In 2011, Children's Rights, a New York-based national advocacy group working to reform child welfare systems, filed a federal class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas alleging the DFPS routinely fails to either return children who've been in foster care at least a year safely to their families or to find them safe, appropriate, and permanent new families.[17][18] They also claim that after approximately one year, or a maximum of 18 months, without successfully reunifying children with their birth families or finding them adoptive homes, children become permanent wards of the state, a status known as "permanent managing conservatorship" (PMC), and that after entering this permanent foster care status, many children have little hope for stable, permanent families and instead are shuffled between a variety of foster and institutional placements that are poorly supervised by the state.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "About DFPS". Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
  2. ^ "530nar.pdf." University of Texas. Accessed 13 de marzo 2009.
  3. ^ "Texas Attorney General concludes Texas Department of Family and Protective Services cannot access juvenile records under Family Code". Texas Juvenile Probation Commission. 24 February 2005. Archived from the original on 2 June 2008.
  4. ^ "Contact Us." Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Accessed August 30, 2008.
  5. ^ "DFPS - About DFPS". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  6. ^ "New Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Launches". Texas  Health and Human Services Commission. 2 February 2004. Archived from the original on 2 June 2008.
  7. ^ "Notice of Agency Name Change". Texas Secretary of State.
  8. ^ Strayhorn, Carole Keeton (April 2004). "Forgotten Children: A Special Report on the Texas Foster Care System". Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (State of Texas).
  9. ^ Strayhorn, Carole Keeton (23 June 2006). "Comptroller Strayhorn Statement On Foster Care Abuse". Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (State of Texas). Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2008.
  10. ^ "Claims Post-Payment Audit Report Summary (Fiscal 2005 First Quarter)". Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Archived from the original on 2007-06-13.
  11. ^ St. James, Janet (18 April 2008). "Richardson group: Polygamists' children are OK". WFAA-TV.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ West, Brian (13 May 2008). "Chairman says Texas CPS workers mistreated FLDS". Deseret News.
  13. ^ a b Lyon, Julia (13 May 2008). "Caregivers blast Texas' treatment of polygamous sect's women, children". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 14 May 2008.
    Some quotes found in two of the original affidavits linked to from this article titled: "This incident... is not what America or Texas stands for." Archived 2008-05-27 at the Wayback Machine and "Even the simplest request was discounted." Archived 2008-05-27 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Crotea, Roger (10 May 2008). "Mental health workers rip CPS over sect". San Antonio Express-News.
  15. ^ "FLDS children adapt old ways to new homes". The Salt Lake Tribune. 5 May 2008. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. By Julia Lyon, Brooke Adams and Nate Carlisle
  16. ^ Crary, David. "Group care for foster kids: Critics seek phase-out". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Texas (M.D. v. Perry)". Children's Rights. Retrieved 17 May 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 September 2019, at 12:33
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