Senator Jane Nelson: “We Have to Get It Right on CPS”

October 27, 2016

AUSTIN – The Texas Senate Finance Committee met yesterday to discuss reform ideas to Child Protective Services and ideas to ensure timely contact with children at immediate risk of abuse of neglect, and other proposals to improve child safety. A recent report issued by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services highlighted that roughly 1,000 of the state’s “highest priority” children were never even checked on by a CPS investigator.

“We have to get it right on CPS,” said Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson (R- Flower Mound). “We need to better understand what investments are working and what improvements are needed. We need an action plan that will keep children safe.”

A recent letter by Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Dan Patrick, and Speaker Joe Straus directed Hank Whitman, the department commissioner, to develop a plan to train and hire more special investigators to address the backlog of kids who have not had an in person meeting with Child Protective Services. As noted during testimony, the Texas Legislature allocated a roughly $315 million in additional funding, in all funds, for CPS over what they received last year.

“The current system has terrible turnover of needy kids in the CPS programs,” said Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). “A terrible turnover of kids, a terrible turnover of employees, and a terrible turnover of taxpayers dollars does not benefit anyone. You cannot hire your way out of the problem. The more people you bring on without training, the more it makes the matter worse.”

The Department of Family and Protective Services announced a plan to hire an additional 550 front line investigators, special investigators, and caseworkers, however turnover remains a large problem with the department. Statistics from the Department of Family Protective Services for Fiscal Year 2015 showed that there were 2,133 caseworkers, and had a 25% turnover rate for the full agency. The turnover rates went higher in other departments, as investigators saw a 33% turnover rate, and, per Senator Uresti (D- San Antonio), there was an overall 46% first year attrition rate. “This means you are losing four employees a day, and 550 new employees would only buy you 125 days. This is not a solution. We need to look at retention,” added Senator Bettencourt.

This sentiment was further highlighted by Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) who added, “The environment and the climate in which case workers do their job are the first and second reason for case workers to turnover. Until those are fixed, this is like filling up a pail that has a hole in the bottom.”

During the hearing Committee Chair Jane Nelson announced that she was appointing a workgroup to study additional recommendations that would be made tomorrow by CPS Commissioner Whitman. Senator Schwertner will chair the workgroup, and Senator’s Whitmire, Watson, Kolkhorst, and Birdwell will join him.

Senator Nelson concluded, “You know how I feel about zero based budgeting. I am asking this group to take the budget down to $0 and look at every single penny of the $2.8 billion, and give their feedback on whether this plan addresses the current crisis that we are facing.”

The workgroup, appointed by Senator Nelson, will meet today.

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Senate Bill 1978, the save "Chick fil-A Bill," authored by Senator Bryan Hughes (R - Mineola) would prevent a government or public entity from penalizing businesses for exercising their religious beliefs. This bill is essential after Chick-fil-A was barred from opening a location at the San Antonio Airport.

Chick-fil-A should not be punished for choosing to support certain religious organizations that align with their beliefs. Progressive liberals killed the Texas House companion bill, House Bill 3172, but Texas Senate Republicans will not allow the 86th Legislative Session to end without protecting the religious liberty of businesses and individuals.

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It’s Freedom of Religion. If you don’t like their beliefs than don’t eat there. Simple as that. For the rest of us, we don’t mind waiting in long lines to get our delicious Chick-Fil-A 🐓🍟🇺🇸🍕

This was one of the very few good things y’all did this session. So, thank you for at least doing this. But very disappointed in both houses in the Texas Legislature, and Greg Abbott as well. Y’all are giving me very little reason to continue voting Republican. I am sick of voting Republican just because “well, he is better than the DemocRAT.” I’m starting to wonder if there is much of a difference.

Thank you Texas Senate. Vote out the Texas House of Representatives that voted against this bill. If “ chick fil a “ is still denied a permit then build very close to airport. The city will lose revenue. Because many people will patronize their business.

On a personal note I dislike their food. I also think food needs available 24/7/365 at an airport. Based on our laws their hours of service are there’s to set. But airport patrons have a need for food when on the ground and during layovers. So either Chic Fil A either makes an exception for airport eateries, or airports pick someone that will.

We are , ONE NATION UNDER ALMIGHTY GOD and is beautiful to see business with this religious spirit This business are so blessed.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Just because your beliefs don’t align with a restaurant, you want to deny many others a good place to eat and there aren’t many of those in airports. Don’t like them, don’t shop there, I don’t mind.

I believe in one nation under GOD. But I believe I have the right to boycott because I believe the greatest command is to love.

Thank you thank you chick fil. for standing up the

2 problems with this approach. First, it ignores the fact that a 7-day-a-week airport probably needs a 7-day-a-week vendor to service its customers. Any business that closes on Sunday to give their employees a day off and time to go to church is to be applauded, but it has to take the consequences that go with that choice, and to do so without screaming "Persecution!" That goes for the loudmouths using this to make political hay in the Texas Legislature. The second problem is that, when a Muslim business wants to get a contract and also be closed for Friday prayers, this law will be used to let them do so. Either that, or those in control will hypocritically try to find a loophole to prevent them from doing so.

This isn't about Republicans and Democrats, it's about discrimination based on religious beliefs. That is, unless you support discrimination ?

Jesus Christ is God & I love Him

Great now can you please Find a funding plan for our schools? Why didn't you cap the school portion of our PROPERTY TAX at 2.5 %?how come the teachers are not getting their 5000$ pay raise you all promised? Why can't you end the ROBINHOOD? Can you please tax something else to fund our schools? the 2 year plan you all came up with just kicks the can down the road!

They do NOT need saving they are a great place to eat and take your family


These other groups are taking advantage of our wanting to do right.

Good now our 2nd Amendment rights are being embezzled by government. We need to show the same concerns for all our rights. Concealed Handgun permits are the embezzlement of the 2nd Amendment.

And now, perhaps as a result, the Federal Aviation Administration is looking into whether this is discrimination at the airport. The council had a chance to reconsider that decision but instead doubled down it. They will regret it soon!

All federal funds should be pulled for that airport due to discrimination.

Well, they can’t really keep them out since this airport accepts federal funds. So, the council man that started all this has got to come up with answers as why he didn’t check into that little fact.

Chick-Fil--A is this most successful fast food chain out there right now. I really dont think they need government help. A couple of times they have been denied leases in venues that do a significant amount of their business on Sunday and thus want their patrons to have food available on Sunday. It is a contingency of the lease. Chick-fil-A chooses to not open on Sunday. Both are reasonable stances. Dont need government intervention. It is not religious persecution, it is a business dispute.

Texas, please continue to stand up to those who discriminate against other citizens, because they don’t agree.

Common Sense is no longer the norm. We already have a law. Freedom of religion.

Before you realize it our own government will be banning us who believe in God from life itself.

Protect religious beliefs from the persecution of democrats!!! Always vote Republican!!!

Still won't give one penny to chick-fil-a. And choosing not to allow a business that brings controversy into an airport is not discrimination.. it good business

Texas Senate Republicans are determined to overhaul School FInance before leaving Austin at the end of this legislative session.

The Committee Substitue to House Bill 3 reduces STAAR tests by eliminating the 4th and 7th grade writing tests. Instead, a few writing questions will be added to the existing reading test. CSHB 3 also includes no new Kindergarten testing in the bill and it does not increase passing standards. Students may still pass a STAAR test by ‘approaching grade level,’ a standard that is not changed in the bill.

CSHB 3 also expressly prohibits evaluating teacher performance and incentive pay based solely on STAAR test scores. CSHB 3 includes some outcomes-based funding related to 3rd grade reading levels but allows school districts to use local assessments for this purpose.

The Texas Senate knew that passing CSHB 3 would mean meaningful and realistic change. Instead of succumbing to fear and political inertia and led by Senator Larry Taylor (R - Friendswood), the Texas Senate finally, after decades of band-aides, was able to pass meaningful and long-lasting school finance reform.

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How much $ did legislators receive from the company producing and profiting from the STAAR tests? It’s always “follow the money”!

We need REAL property tax relief. Property owners should not have to foot the bill for schools. I'm tired of paying for schools I don't use employing education systems I don't agree with. We should be able to own our homes outright after it is paid off just like every other tangible item we buy. We should not be taxed on any item forever.

Let the teachers go back to teaching. Give the raise they so deserve.

Thank you for working so hard to do what you can. I look forward to the day when school is free market choices but until then any increase in freedoms and local control is a good step. Thank you!

Substitute Iowa Achievement Test for all tests except practice tests....just good teaching and tracking of individual progress in ALL subject areas.....COME ON!!! Its not that difficult!!

But---the same ones are elected every two years----why.

How do you solve some of the problems when so many parents and students do not value Education. Our schools and teachers have become babysitters. We no longer strive for excellence in our schools. Someone’s feelings might be hurt. And discipline is nonexistent...someone’s feelings might be hurt. We need more Trade Schools!

I still believe that STARR testing is not worth the money that is spent on it. Schools could use that money for more things that would improve the actual teaching curriculum. Please rethink this!

So great at least you started seeing how STAAR testing is useless.. you’ve removed writing from two years of testing. Please consider that no two students are alike in how they learn. Standardized testing does not actually tell anyone anything about the learning that a child has made, especially when in some cases it’s been proven to test at two grade levels higher than the students are actually learning at. Currently because of the STAAR testing as well as the unrealistic education board of Texas children are learning concepts beyond their reach. For instance my first grader was learning Algebra 1 concepts in 1st grade. In K, 1, 2 students should be learning the building blocks for what they learn after 2 grade not having to sort through higher level concepts and ideas. 1 + 1 = is acceptable math for a first grader.. 1+ X = 10 what is X is not... Now that being said if you want to help financial reform for education do away with standardized teaching, start paying for supplies and other needs school districts have. Ensure ISDs in smaller more rural towns are able to pay a teacher an acceptable living wage allowing for decent teachers in those smaller schools and per and re-evaluate Texas TEKS to be age appropriate and I think you’ll have all the parents ears and will have done your only sole duty as the government of Texas.

A positive step.

Can you please pass meaningful School FINANCE REFORM? Pleas tax something else besides my PROPERTY to fund the schools THANKS!

Get rid of STAAR testing. It’s a meaningless test that interferes with teaching students and students learning.

I'd rather pay a little more at the gas pump or on sales tax than see Texans homes taken away because they can't afford these outrageous school district tax increases. And stop the BS that taxes aren't being increased. Appraised value increase = Property Tax Increase! Many of those losing their homes don't even have school aged children.

Get rid of testing period , not right to have it let the teachers teach.

I agree, get rid of STARR TEST. Back to basics, ie reading, writing (cursive), arithmetic, homemaking, VOE, shop, etc!!

Do away with government involved education. Politicians are controlled by the highest bidder, not what's good for the country!

Get the legislature out of the classroom, stop STAAR now, let the teachers teach!! Legislators taking the STAAR is a good idea! No pass resign!!!!!!

Removing writing an essay in 4th and 7th grades? Replacing with several questions that merely require a short paragraph? Wow! Standards just keep going down.

Those tests are about stamina , they should reduce the number os stories in the tests, if a child can read and understand they don't need 5 or six long boring stories or articles to prove they can read and comprehand.

Get rid of star testing period!

There is no such thing as property tax reduction! Any money saved on property taxes will be collected from you thru some other tax or fee! You cannot reduce total taxation without reducing spending! Do not let any politician tell you differently!

Not good enough. Some kids need more time to test. It’s unfair to know dis with sensory processing issues.

Politicians need to take a huge pay cut just like everyone else that relies on federal and state monies


Get rid of star tests completely.

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