Testimony to the House Committee on Human Services
We support expanding community-based foster care. However, that expansion must proceed with caution and clarity. To reach that goal, we support strengthening HB 6 provisions regarding the timeline for expanding community-based care, oversight, qualifications of an SSCC, rate setting, contingency plans, and contract compliance. We look forward to working with the author and the Committee to address these issues and ensure next steps in community foster care are in the best interests of children.
Testimony to House Appropriations Article III Subcommittee
High-quality early education and support for students facing non-academic challenges are critical for ensuring student success. We urge the Subcommittee to maintain the current level of annual funding for the high-quality grant program by providing $236 million and direct TEA to develop a plan to coordinate resources available for addressing non-academic barriers, among other steps.
We urge the Committee to withdraw the across-the-board cut contained in Article IX of the Senate budget and consider each program’s funding needs on a case-by-case basis. The proposed $1 billion cut would undermine the state’s efforts to improve child protection. It would lead to Medicaid cuts far in excess of the controversial therapy rate cuts for children with disabilities. It would also make it harder to reach full funding for the new pre-k grant program and other services that are critical to the success of children.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide input regarding the Senate Finance Committee’s filed budget bill for 2018-2019, Senate Bill 1, and in particular Article VI (Natural Resources). I write to urge you to support increased funding for “Texans Feeding Texans” (Surplus Agricultural Product Grant) to $10M for Fiscal Year 2018-19 (SB 1, Article VI-7, Rider 10). This funding supports Texas food banks in their commitment to help needy Texans reach their full potential for a healthy, productive life.
Testimony to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
SB 11 addresses significant problems facing Texas’ foster care system including capacity, health screening, and foster care facility investigations. Many of the proposed changes will help keep children in foster care safe and healthy. Further, SB 11 has several provisions that focus on preventing child abuse and neglect in the first place, thereby reducing the need for the foster care system. Although SB11 is a strong bill, many of the solutions it presents raise questions that must be addressed to ensure the success of community-based foster care. We support SB 11 and look forward to working with you to answer questions that will strengthen the bill moving forward.
Every school day, teachers, counselors, nurses, principals, and coaches interact with students experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that interfere with learning. Just as Texas needs to help schools better address academic barriers to learning, it must also help schools implement strategies and classroom conditions that address non-academic barriers to learning.
The state’s new pre-k grant program, established by HB 4, is off to a strong start in its first year. However, the introduced budget bill falls short of maintaining the current $118 million per year, putting the program at risk just as it is getting started and undermining efforts to ensure that students enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed.
Comments to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Texans Care for Children strongly supports HHSC’s proposed adjustment related to Medicaid payments for human donor milk. This critical step will increase the availability and use of human milk in neonatal units (NICUs) and, in turn, improve infant health, prevent infections and illnesses in babies, improve child growth and development, and reduce costs for the state.
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.
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.
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.
Testimony to the House Select Committee on Mental Health
Texans Care for Children is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue children's policy organization. We drive policy change to improve the lives of Texas children today for a stronger Texas tomorrow. We envision a Texas in which all children grow up to be healthy, safe, successful, and on a path to fulfill their promise. We appreciate all the work that the committee has done to bring attention and discussion to the far reaching effects mental illness has on Texas children, families, adults, and communities and ways Texas can improve the outcomes of those who experience mental illness and the systems that serve them. We thank you for the opportunity to offer recommendations on ways the state can make a positive difference in supporting the mental health of children and youth.