Since Texas children account for nearly one of every 11 children in the U.S., our state government must continue to invest in programs and services that ensure children live in safe and loving homes. That’s why last week I visited with the Child Protection Roundtable about the Department of Family and Protective Services’ (DFPS) 2016-17 budget request.
The mission of DFPS is to provide services and programs in Texas that not only protect children, but also protect the elderly and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect or exploitation. DFPS also licenses and regulates childcare centers to ensure the quality and safety of the services they provide.
The DFPS budget request totals $1.6 billion from the General Revenue Fund, with more than one-fourth going toward payments for the care, maintenance, and treatment of children in foster care. Roughly 30,000 children are in foster care, and this number is expected to increase to 32,000 by 2017. DFPS also requests 19 exceptional items — the agency’s funding priorities that can’t be included in the baseline budget — with funding to maintain staffing and associated costs as the most important.
In the past the state has relied heavily on federal funds to make even limited improvements to these programs. The prospects for such funding looks bleak. Therefore, the 2015 legislature will need to step up and invest in these necessary programs to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable Texans. Budget hearings for agencies continue through the end of October, and more opportunities for public input are coming in early 2015. Learn more about opportunities for public input with our budget infographic.
For more information on the Family and Protective Services budget request please check out my detailed analysis.