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Interim Charges for 85th Legislature Released

Interim Charges for 85th Legislature Released

The Interim Charges for the 85th Texas Legislature have been issued by the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House. Interim Charges are topics for study by legislative committees in between legislative sessions (the 86th Legislative Session will begin in January 2019).

Below is a list of Interim Charges that are of greatest importance to TexProtects in achieving our mission of reducing and ending child abuse and neglect. We will be actively engaging with lawmakers and our collaborative partners on these charges during the interim. We will stay on top of developments and keep you informed. If you have any questions about these charges, please contact TexProtects' Public Policy Director Pamela McPeters at pamela@texprotects.org.

House Charges

Committee on Appropriations

The charges to this committee are numerous, but here are the ones that most concern TexProtects:

  • Consider whether HHSC properly enforces contractual sanctions when managed care organizations (MCOs) are out of compliance, as well as how HHSC uses Medicaid participants' complaints regarding access to care to improve quality.

  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature. For TexProtects, this includes:

    • Any lapses in funding at the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) or the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) for prevention and early intervention, and/or behavioral health services

    • Ongoing impact of critical-needs funding at DFPS

Committee on Public Health

Analyze the prevalence of children involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) who have a mental illness and/or a substance use disorder. In addition, analyze the prevalence of children involved with CPS due to their guardian's substance abuse or because of an untreated mental illness. Identify methods to strengthen CPS processes and services, including efforts for family preservation; increasing the number of appropriate placements designed for children with high needs; and ensuring Texas Medicaid is providing access to appropriate and effective behavioral health services. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Human Services)

Review state programs that provide women’s health services and recommend solutions to increase access to effective and timely care. During the review, identify services provided in each program, the number of providers and clients participating in the programs, and the enrollment and transition process between programs. Monitor the work of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and recommend solutions to reduce maternal deaths and morbidity. In addition, review the correlation between pre-term and low birth weight births and the use of alcohol and tobacco. Consider options to increase treatment options and deter usage of these substances.

Committee on Juvenile Justice & Family Issues

Evaluate the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Texas juvenile justice system, out-of-home placements, and care for youth involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Recommend any changes that could improve operational stability of state juvenile justice institutions following a natural disaster and changes that would allow for a more effective response.

Committee on Human Services

Study the impact of Hurricane Harvey and the response to the storm on individuals living in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, state supported living centers, licensed community group homes, and children in the foster care system. Identify and recommend necessary solutions to ensure appropriate disaster-related protocols are in place to keep vulnerable Texans protected. Also, identify any challenges state agencies experienced in responding to the storm or during recovery efforts.

Review the availability of prevention and early intervention programs and determine their effectiveness in reducing maltreatment of children. In addition, review services available to children emancipating out of foster care, as well as services available to families post-adoption. Determine if current services are adequately providing for children's needs and meeting the objectives of the programs. While reviewing possible system improvements for children, follow the work of the Supreme Court of Texas Children's Commissions' Statewide Collaborative of Trauma-Informed Care to determine how trauma-informed care impacts outcomes for children.

Analyze the prevalence of children involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) who have a mental illness and/or a substance use disorder. In addition, analyze the prevalence of children involved with CPS due to their guardian's substance abuse or because of an untreated mental illness. Identify methods to strengthen CPS processes and services, including efforts for family preservation; increasing the number of appropriate placements designed for children with high needs; and ensuring Texas Medicaid is providing access to appropriate and effective behavioral health services. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Public Health)

Review the history and any future roll-out of Medicaid Managed Care in Texas. Determine the impact managed care has had on the quality and cost of care. In the review, determine: initiatives that managed care organizations (MCOs) have implemented to improve quality of care; whether access to care and network adequacy contractual requirements are sufficient; and whether MCOs have improved the coordination of care. Also determine provider and Medicaid participants’ satisfaction within STAR, STAR Health, Star Kids, and STAR+Plus managed care programs. In addition, review the Health and Human Services Commission's (HHSC) oversight of managed care organizations, and make recommendations for any needed improvement.

Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee will also closely monitor the implementation of H.B. 4 (85R), H.B. 5 (85R), H.B. 7 (85R), and S.B. 11 (85R). (All bills related to child protection)

Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse

Examine the impact of substance abuse and substance use disorders on Texans who are involved in the adult or juvenile criminal justice system and/or the Child Protective Services system. Identify barriers to treatment and the availability of treatment in various areas of the state. Recommend solutions to improve state and local policy, including alternatives to justice system involvement, and ways to increase access to effective treatment and recovery options.

Identify the specialty courts in Texas that specialize in substance use disorders. Determine the effectiveness of these courts and consider solutions to increase the number of courts in Texas.

Senate Charges

Committee on Finance

Monitor the implementation of the following funding initiatives:

  • CPS Critical Needs - Monitor the impact of salary increases and additional caseworkers allocated to Child Protective Services last interim.

  • Health Care Costs Across State Agencies - Monitor coordination efforts among state agencies to improve health care and reduce costs pursuant to Article IX, Section 10.06 and Section 10.07.

  • Behavioral Health - Monitor the state's progress in coordinating behavioral health services and expenditures across state government, pursuant to Article IX section 10.04, including the impact of new local grant funding provided by the 85th Legislature.

Committee on Health and Human Services

Child Welfare

  • Review the efficacy and quality of services offered to ensure family preservation while in the Family Based Social Services (FBSS) stage of service at the Department of Family and Protective Services. Make recommendations to better track quality of services and link payments to providers of these services to outcomes for families and children.

  • Analyze the Department of Family and Protective Services' progress in meeting statutory requirements related to timely visits to children involved in a reported case of abuse or neglect. Make recommendations to further improve the timeliness of these visits.

  • Review services and supports provided to children in Permanent Managing Conservatorship of the state, and the level of preparedness given to youth aging out of state care.

  • Examine the impact of recent legislation related to ready for adulthood and to reduce the likelihood of intergenerational perpetuation of child maltreatment.

  • Assess the effectiveness of public and private agency efforts to recruit and retain foster parents. Identify barriers to entry and obstacles that prevent interested families from continuing to provide foster care. Recommend solutions to increase foster recruitment and address non-renewals, especially in first-time foster parents.

Substance Abuse/Opioids

  • Review substance use prevention, intervention, and recovery programs operated or funded by the state and make recommendations to enhance services, outreach, and agency coordination.

  • Examine the adequacy of substance use, services for pregnant and postpartum women enrolled in Medicaid or the Healthy Texas Women Program and recommend ways to improve substance use related health outcomes for these women and their newborns.

  • Examine the impact of recent legislative efforts to curb overprescribing and doctor shopping via the prescription monitoring program and recommend ways to expand on current efforts.

Monitoring Charge

Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, 85th Legislature and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation, including but not limited to:

  • Initiatives to increase capacity and reduce waitlists in the mental health system, including the construction of state hospitals and new community grant programs;

  • Initiatives to better understand the causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, including the impact of legislation passed during the first special session of the 85th Legislature. Recommend ways to improve health outcomes for pregnant women and methods to better collect data related to maternal mortality and morbidity;

  • Initiatives intended to improve child safety, Child Protective Services workforce retention, and development of additional capacity in the foster care system. Make additional recommendations to ensure children with high levels of medical or mental health needs receive timely access to services in the least restrictive setting;

  • Efforts to transfer case management of foster children and families to Single Source Continuum Contractors (SSCCs). Monitor the progress of this transition and make recommendations to ensure the process provides continuity of services for children and families and ongoing community engagement.

Posted on October 25, 2017.

Our Mission

Our mission is to reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect through research, advocacy and education. We effect change by organizing and educating our members to advocate for increased investments in evidence-based child abuse prevention programs, CPS reforms, and treatment programs to heal abuse victims. 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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