Among the many bills it passed into law earlier this year, the Texas Legislature made some sweeping changes to the state’s health and human service system. Up until now, our state’s health and human services have been provided or overseen by five separate agencies. In response to a Sunset Commission review, the Legislature passed a series of laws that reorganized some programs, consolidated others, eliminated the functions of 11 entities, and stripped 40 advisory committees from statute. Once the massive reorganization is complete, three state agencies -- the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), and Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) -- will be combined into one big one. Two others, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), will be left standing, but they too will see some of their programs peeled off and transplanted into the mega-agency.
During the legislative session we shared our concerns about consolidation with the Legislature. Now that consolidation is underway, we are focused on ensuring our state agencies are successful as they carry out this difficult task. In addition to improving efficiency, a successful "transformation” will continue – and ideally improve – services for children and families without interruptions. To evaluate the success of the reorganization, the state must track and publicize the impact on access to services, any changes to program efficiency, and how much the services improved the lives of their clients. The state must also regularly provide the public with information about the proposed changes and opportunities to share their concerns, suggestions, experiences, and expertise.
The first step to public involvement is public information about the process. Provided below are a few key resources, updates, and dates.
The agency is currently evaluating public input it received on its draft recommendation for continuing, discontinuing, or merging 132 current advisory committees. A new advisory committee structure will be published in the Texas Register by November 1.
The next significant milestone comes in January when HHSC must submit a plan to the Legislative Oversight Committee explaining the transformation plan.
While many agency functions won’t be moved to HHSC until the fall of 2017, September 1, 2016 is the deadline to transfer a number of agency functions, including:
- Some administrative and support functions from DARS, DADS, DFPS, and DSHS to HHSC, as determined necessary by the Executive Commissioner
- Select programs from DARS to the Texas Workforce Commission
- Client services from DARS, DADS, and DSHS to HHSC.
- Prevention and early intervention services from HHSC and DSHS to DFPS
Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to get involved as we work with the agency and stakeholders on this important process.