AUSTIN – On January 9, 2017, State Representative Kevin Roberts filed House Bills 871 and 872, both of which incentivize local faith-based groups and non-profit organizations to promote prevention and early intervention programs through increasing access to services for families in crisis like counseling and parenting classes. In addition, House Bill 872 allows local organizations to accept volunteer custody of the child during the Child Protective Services (CPS) review process as opposed to the child being sent to foster care. Both pieces of legislation are designed to help create more options when it comes to voluntary guardianship and keeping children out of group homes, while giving families the tools they need to prevent abuse and neglect.
“It is unacceptable that the children of Texas are being kept in such poor conditions, that a judge has told us ‘rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability are the norm’ in the system,” said Representative Kevin Roberts. “It is time for Texans to rally around our kids and show them that they are valued, that they are important, and that they are loved. This is a time when all options need to be on the table, and I am confident that the faith-based community will rise up to the challenge that our state faces and be a part of the solution.”
In Commissioner Whitman’s letter to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House, Whitman promised that the Department of Family and Protective Services was committed to ramping up efforts to bring Texas’ faith-based community into the child welfare tent and providing young parents with the tools and resources to build safe, healthy households.
Both bills are based off of recently passed legislation in Indiana, that has been shown to improve outcomes for both children and families. If passed, the bills will give caseworkers the option to work with the family on temporarily transferring guardianship in certain instances.
“By increasing the options for caseworkers to work with families to find suitable temporary guardians in certain circumstances, we will offer more options to kids to keep them out of the group homes. It is my hope that this legislation can help to curb the strain on the system and make a difficult circumstance less traumatic for a child,” said Representative Roberts.
Representative Kevin Roberts represents House District 126, which is primarily made up of unincorporated northwest Harris County. He is currently serving his first term in the Texas House of Representatives.