State leaders are requesting to transfer almost $30 million from the Health and Human Services Commission to the Department of Family and Protective Services, in order to help with Child Protective Service “critical needs."
The transfer is part of the $142.4 million plan from DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman to pay for the hiring of new employees and increasing salaries, but the Legislative Budget Board hasn’t approved the request yet.
In October, Whitman requested 829 new full-time employees, including investigators, case workers, and staff to “address the urgent need” of CPS.
After the Commissioner’s first request, the Senate Finance Committee asked that DFPS also look into increasing salaries in order to stop the agency’s high turnover rate.
In the Nov. 22 letter from Whitman to Gov. Greg Abbott, he asked for an additional $1,000 a month for case workers and special investigators, a 20 percent increase for supervisors and 10 percent increase for program directors and administrators.
“We must protect each and every child in this state, each and every day. I am committed to continue the important work to ensure my request in the coming months to address the agency’s needs including capacity, rates, additional staffing will be well-informed," Whitman said.
This money is just an “emergency request” for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, 2017, and would not affect budget requests in the upcoming legislative session.
A representative from Gov. Abbott’s office tells KVUE he approved DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman’s legislative request within hours of receiving it on Nov. 22.
In a letter from Charles Smith, the Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, to Abbott’s Office, he approved the transfer of the agency’s money.
As part of the ongoing CPS overhaul, Whitman said they have also increased their partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety to help find children who are possibly in danger of abuse or neglect.
(© 2016 KVUE)