MCALLEN – Last Thursday, State Representative R.D. “Bobby” Guerra (41) was appointed to serve on the House Select Committee on Child Protection and the Protect Our Kids Commission by the Honorable Joe Straus (121), Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.
Protecting our children from abuse and neglect is one of government’s essential functions and the core mission of Child Protective Services (CPS). In 2013, 156 Texas children died as a result of abuse or neglect. While this is fewer than in previous years, it represents far too many young lives ended tragically and senselessly.
“Protecting our children is of the utmost importance and a top priority for legislators. Even one case of abuse or neglect is not acceptable. We have an obligation to our Texas children in making sure they live in a safe and caring environment. The committee will serve to be a key resource to hear from our local and state agencies about the emerging issues and concerns with Children Protective Services (CPS). I look forward to working with my colleagues and I will strongly advocate for developing core solutions concerning abuse and neglect that will provide the necessary tools towards legislation for the coming session,” said Representative Guerra.
Serving as one of the nine committee members, Representative Guerra will be tasked with studying the incidence of abuse and neglect fatalities in Texas and making recommendations to protect children. He will also be working in concert with Protect our Kids Commission, which the Legislature created in 2013.
The purpose of the commission is to study the relationship between child protective services and child welfare services and the rate of child abuse and neglect fatalities. Through its work, the commission will identify promising practices and evidence-based strategies to address and reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect, including the development of recommendations
and guidelines for the types of information that should be tracked, as well as identifying pertinent resources.
“The Texas House is committed to working with Child Protective Services (CPS) and local communities to prevent senseless tragedies. I am confident that this committee will provide meaningful recommendations to improve outcomes for Texas children,” said Speaker Straus.
The committee shall study the incidence of abuse and neglect fatalities in Texas and make recommendations to protect children. In developing its recommendations, the committee shall:
- Monitor the ongoing efforts of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the work of the Protect Our Kids Commission and the National Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, and any relevant Sunset Commission recommendations.
- Assess the efficacy of ongoing prevention efforts that target resources to families at risk;
- Examine regulatory policy and contract oversight within the child welfare system;
- Consider ways to encourage consistent, transparent, and timely review of abuse and neglect fatalities;
- Monitor ongoing efforts to stabilize the CPS workforce, placing specific emphasis on improving work environment, enhancing the quality of supervision, and addressing the unique challenges facing different regions of the state;
- Suggest improvements to the screening, assessment, training, and support of potential foster and kinship families;
- Evaluate the ability of children and youth within the system to report maltreatment;
- Monitor ongoing efforts to enhance the use of data to improve outcomes; and
- Consider strategies to ensure better coordination and collaboration among local agencies, faith-based organizations, the private sector, non-profits, and law enforcement to reduce the incidence of abuse and neglect fatalities.
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