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.
￼HB 4 is an important step forward, and grant applications show that school districts strongly embrace it. However, there is more work to do to ensure that pre-k students and HB 4 are successful. Legislators should continue to support pre-k quality improvements across the state, in districts of every size and every region; ensure that per-student HB 4 funding is sufficient to produce strong gains in the classroom; and align other state early childhood policies with the early learning goals of HB 4.
Ample research demonstrates that non-academic factors influence students’ academic performance. Students are more likely to succeed in school when they are emotionally and physically healthy, feeling safe, and engaged and supported, yet Texas data show that many of our students report significant challenges in these areas. Fortunately, there are several concrete steps legislators can take to address these challenges and improve students’ academic performance.
Testimony to Department of Family and Protective Services
Every kid deserves a healthy start in life. Parents and early care and education providers agree that infants and children deserve to learn in a safe environment and benefit from healthy food, active play, and limited screen time. With the majority of children spending much of their day in early childhood programs, such as child care centers, stronger state minimum standards must be in place to ensure safe environments for children and help these programs deliver what is best for children to maintain a healthy weight and achieve lifelong health.
Several studies and the findings in the recent court case show that one of the key steps the Legislature must take is reducing CPS staff caseloads so that dedicated, hard-working employees can effectively keep children safe. Texas must also ensure children in foster care have the support they need to overcome past trauma, grow up healthy, succeed in the classroom, and develop into self-sufficient adults. Texas should provide comprehensive services to children in foster care, so they can reach their potential.