TexProtects statement on Senate Finance CPS hearing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2016
Contact: Lee Nichols
Austin, Texas — Today, the Texas Senate Committee on Finance met at the state Capitol to discuss the emergency situation currently facing the state’s Child Protective Services agency. Madeline McClure, founding CEO of TexProtects, the Texas Association for the Protection of Children, issued the following statement in response:
“We were encouraged that many senators on the committee acknowledge that higher pay for front-line caseworkers must be an important component of fixing the caseworker turnover crisis at Child Protective Services. A cost-of-living adjusted ‘locality pay’ cut CPS turnover by half in the Midland/Odessa area. Basic labor economics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and best business practices show that improved compensation (demand) increases the pool of workers from which to choose (supply). This will provide CPS with an opportunity to attract better suited, higher caliber employees.
“Additionally, higher compensation will help retain caseworkers on the margins, who are fleeing for higher compensation. Adjusting compensation, along with replacing the punitive work environment with supportive supervision, will result in lower turnover and allow the agency to close their gaping vacancies. Reducing vacancies by definition will reduce remaining work caseloads. At that point, the additional 550 new employees will further reduce caseload.
“We were surprised that Commissioner Whitman’s initial supplemental budget request did not mention salaries, because it was clearly of interest to the Senators and dearly needed.
“Also, we must end this discussion of lowering educational standards and decreasing training time. Bringing in applicants who are ultimately not qualified to do this very stressful and specialized work will only exacerbate turnover rates. CPS caseworkers need to be degreed social workers.
“Decision makers must squarely face the issue that DFPS’s current compensation is just not competitive enough to attract and retain qualified applicants. It costs $54,000 to train a new employee. Forty-six percent of them leave within the first year. And studies show that high turnover increases foster children’s time in state care with each case handoff, costing the state millions of dollars in additional foster care costs – plus, longer time in foster care is terrible for abused children whose lives have already been disrupted. Better compensation could lower that turnover and produce better outcomes for children and families.”
“We were relieved to hear the discussion focusing on investing on the front end and stopping the pipeline of kids entering CPS and being damaged further by the system. Investing in evidence-based Family Preservation models will keep kids from entering foster care. In addition, investing in kinship caregivers at the very least will keep children with relatives if not with family of origin.”
TexProtects, The Texas Association for the Protection of Children, was created to tackle issues of Child Protective Services (CPS) reform, prevention and public awareness to bring a collective, organized voice representing the needs of children at risk of abuse and survivors of child abuse and neglect. The organization is autonomous, nonpartisan and nonpolitical, designed to educate decision makers, private funders and the public at large. To date, it is the only Texas organization that has a dedicated focus on the main issues of protection, prevention, and healing of abused and neglected children. For more information, please visit www.TexProtects.org.