Join Us in Amarillo on Oct. 24 for a Preview of Top Children's Issues Facing the Texas Legislature in 2017

Please join us for a preview of and discussion on the major children's issues facing the state Legislature in 2017 in Amarillo.

Ensuring Continued Health Care Funding After Stopgap 1115 Waiver Extension

Testimony to Senate Committee on Health & Human Services

The 1115 Medicaid Waiver has provided critical funding for uncompensated care in Texas hospitals and innovative DSRIP projects – including projects to address unintended pregnancy, birth outcomes, and maternal health – in communities throughout the state. With the stopgap Waiver extension expiring at the end of 2017, next year state leaders must develop a Texas plan to expand health coverage in order to avoid a severe cut in health care funding provided through the Waiver. If the Waiver expires without a plan in place, Texas communities would face a $1.3 billion cut in health care funding in 2018 and deeper cuts in the future. It's important to note that whether or not Texas reaches a Waiver renewal agreement, and whether or not Texas accepts Medicaid expansion funding, the federal funding will not be renewed for uncompensated care for Texans who could be covered through Medicaid expansion. Texas must replace those expiring funds before 2018.

Improving Women’s Health and Building Healthy Foundations for Kids

Testimony to Senate Committee on Health & Human Services

The Legislature’s continued efforts on women’s health are critical to ensuring more Texas mothers and babies are healthy and confronting the state’s maternal mortality crisis and Zika threat. Implementation of Texas’ two women’s health programs is an opportunity to build a robust network of providers to serve women across Texas in need of preventive care and health screenings. Services and screenings offered through these programs are an important step towards improving women’s health and birth outcomes and reducing unplanned pregnancies. But continued investment and key improvements should be made to improve the health of moms and babies, address maternal depression, and ensure access to preventive care for teens and young adults. Additionally, to truly improve the health of moms and infants, the state should craft a Texas health coverage plan for low-wage workers to maximize the return of federal tax dollars for health care and ensure Texas women have access to care before and after pregnancies.

In the News: Keep Preteens Out of Juvenile System, Texas House Panel Told

Already facing calls to limit when teenagers are treated as adults in the criminal justice system, Texas lawmakers next year may also see legislation trying to keep preteens from being shunted into the juvenile justice system.

Ensuring the Success of Youth Dually Involved with CPS & Justice Systems

Testimony to the House Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee

The abuse and neglect that leads to children’s involvement with Child Protective Services leads to involvement with the juvenile justice system. However, there is little coordination and data sharing between the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, resulting in costly, and sometimes counterproductive, duplication of services and worse outcomes for youth. Local efforts in Texas show that improved coordination can lead to better results. Texas policymakers should study the current population of “dually involved youth,” establish a data collection and information sharing system, and create a taskforce to improve coordination.

In The News: Juvenile Justice Agency Making Case to Escape Budget Cuts

If state leaders insist, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department has identified ways to cut its budget by $16.8 million, or 2.8 percent, for the 2018-2019 biennium. But the agency really wants a $170 million bump so it can comply with state and federal laws, fix up some of its battered facilities and bolster behavioral programs.

TEA-Commissioned Report Recommends Limits on Texas Pre-k Class Size

A new report required by the state Legislature as part of the high-quality pre-k bill passed in 2015 recommends that Texas limit all pre-k classrooms to a maximum of 22 students and allow no more than 11 students for each teacher or aide in pre-k classes with more than 15 students “in order to create conditions for high-quality classrooms.”

In The News: Four CPS Leaders Lose Jobs Amid Agency Shakeup

Child Protective Services officials fired four high-ranking managers this week, saying the changes are part of a strategy to reform an agency under fire for failing to protect the state’s most vulnerable children from being abused or killed.