Expand the number of infants, toddlers, and families of low-income who are universally
screened and successfully connected to
necessary services and continue to build the
capacity of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), a state wide program for families birth to age three with developmental delays, disabilities that may impact development,
and voluntary home visiting programs.
PN-3 Collaborative advocated to protect existing state funding and increase investments in proven-effective, community-based child abuse prevention programs for children prenatal to age five. Specifically, we supported the Prevention and Early Intervention Division (PEI) at DFPS’ request for an Exceptional Item (EI) in the budget to expand prevention services with an increase of $10 million and a second EI request to increase funding to cover an expected shortfall of funds in the Child Abuse Trust Fund of $4.77 million that is used to support prevention programs. While we are grateful that funding for prevention programming disseminated through PEI was maintained, we are concerned that a substantial increase in prevention was not realized. Such an investment would be transformative in decreasing the number of children and families entering Child Protective Services (CPS) and those placed in foster care. Our research indicates that only 4% of families at risk for entering CPS in Texas receive home-based prevention programming. We believe that Texas can do better. On this note, the following budget riders that we advocated for were included in the final budget:
- A budget rider authored by Representative Howard directs HHSC to evaluate unexpended and carryover CHIP funding to determine the amount available to establish a Health Services Initiative (HSI) for prevention programming.
- A budget rider on the Families First Prevention Services Act authored by Representatives Frank, Howard and Rose ensure funding is protected to keep families together and prevent removals. This is a vital step forward, ensuring that prevention programming is available to keep children out of state custody, prevent child abuse and save in downstream costs.