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Protect Our Kids Commission Issues Final Report

In 2013, the Texas Legislature created the Protect Our Kids Commission and charged it with identifying evidence-based strategies and promising practices to reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect, identifying resources to implement those strategies, and developing guidelines for the types of information –data collection and analysis – that should be tracked to improve interventions and prevention. TexProtects' CEO Madeline McClure was privileged to serve on the Commission, an appointee of then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and acted as chair of the commission’s Prevention Committee. On December 2, 2015, the commission published its final recommendations to the Texas Legislature.

The recommendations are listed in full below, and you may read the report in full by clicking here. TexProtects applauds the report’s focus on prevention – in fact, many of these recommendations are squarely in line with initiatives we have pursued since TexProtects’ inception: scaling up the most effective evidence-based prevention programs, assessing “hot” areas of high child abuse fatalities and the highest risk of maltreatment, focusing resources to targeted catchment areas where they are needed most, expanded and improved data collection (and better use of that data), and consistent funding that will allow these programs for stability and expansion. The report also included several recommendations to improve the local and statewide child fatality teams operations, timeliness and support.

The commission itself is now dissolved, having met its mandate. But the work must continue – making recommendations is not the same as implementing them. It is crucial that this report not become the stereotypical government report, released with great fanfare and then put on a shelf to gather dust.

In the 2017 Legislative Session, TexProtects, working with allied organizations, will press state legislators and other leaders to turn these recommendations into law. We urge you to stay active with us – check your e-mail inbox in months to come for ways you can take action, reaching out to lawmakers and crafting policies and practices that save lives, hearts, souls and futures by strengthening and supporting our families.

The report’s recommendations:

  1. The State of Texas should develop and maintain an inventory of the top evidence-based andpromising practices for preventing abuse fatalities. (The State should do this through the Department of Family and Protective Services, Department of State Health Services, and a Prevention Advisory Board described in recommendation 3.)

  2. The state should prioritize prevention services using a geographic focus for families at highest risk, with the greatest needs and least number of resources. The state should pilot combinations of evidence-based and promising practice programs and scale up these programs.

  3. The Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner should create a permanent, high-level Prevention Advisory Board to make recommendations toward a statewide child safety strategy.

  4. The State should make better use of the work of the State Child Fatality Review Team.

  5. The State should better support local Child Fatality Review Teams (CFRT) to ensure coordination, training, and consistency.

  6. The State should ensure that all Texas counties have a CFRT.

  7. The State should expedite the CFRT case review process.

  8. The Prevention Advisory Board and DFPS should look for funding sources in addition to state general revenue, including federal and local government, and private funding streams to expand prevention programs.

  9. The State should evaluate currently available child fatality data resources (Child Protective Services and CFRT data) and develop strategies to include near-fatalities.

  10. The Legislature should extend the types of data tracked to enhance research analyze factors and variables consistent with child abuse fatalities for predictive analytics to steer resources to “hot” or high child maltreatment incident areas of the state..

  11. DSHS and DFPS should determine how to better use available data to inform a public health approach to preventing child fatalities and continue to support the work already underway in the “Strategic Plan to Reduce Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.”

Posted on February 4, 2016.

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Our mission is to protect Texas children from the trauma of abuse and neglect and empower families to thrive through education, research, and advocacy. Our vision is that all children are safe, nurtured, and resilient. Learn more about the work we do. You can help protect Texas children from abuse & neglect. Find out how you can help.

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