For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Clark, 512-473-2274
Austin - Today Governor Greg Abbott announced his intention to appoint Jaime Masters as the new Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), which includes Child Protective Services (CPS).
Following the announcement, Kate Murphy, Senior Child Welfare Policy Associate at Texans Care for Children, released the following statement:
We would like to congratulate Jaime Masters on this critically important appointment and welcome her to Texas. We are excited to work together with her and her staff.
The Commissioner will have her hands full. She is taking on a sacred responsibility of protecting kids, helping parents provide a safe home, and ensuring that when kids are removed from unsafe homes and placed in foster care, they are safe, healing, and on track to become successful young adults.
To get the job done for Texas kids, she will need to make sure that her hard-working staff has the support they need to succeed and thrive each day. Outgoing Commissioner Hank Whitman, who successfully fought for pay raises and other support for CPS staff, provides an example of the importance of putting caseworkers and other staff members in a position to succeed.
In addition to managing the usual challenges for CPS, the Commissioner will need to really zero in on making the most of the new Family First Act. Texas must quickly gear up to make the most of the opportunities that the new federal law offers Texas when it is implemented shortly after the next legislative session. Texas needs to use the next two years, including the 2021 legislative session, to leverage this opportunity to keep more kids safely with their parents when possible and make sure kids are safe if they do enter foster care. If Texas seizes the opportunities offered by the Family First Act, we can help keep children safely with their parents by expanding substance use treatment and supporting teen parents in foster care, among other strategies.
There are several other key child welfare challenges for the Commissioner and the Legislature. Texas must improve support for older youth who “age out” of foster care without a family. We need to closely monitor the rollout of the next phases of Community Based Care to ensure children in foster care are well served. Texas also needs to implement the federal court’s final order on the foster care lawsuit. As CPS conducts a workload study to comply with the order, we encourage CPS to include comparisons of Texas to other states and national best practices to help create a meaningful roadmap for improving staffing and supporting kids.