Wednesday, April 06, 2005

For-profit companies could determine future of troubled children

Child Protective Services (CPS) currently contracts certain services with private companies: 75 percent of the children in foster care, as well as adoption services. The Health and Human Services Commission recommends that the Legislature privatize some, but not all, case management services to the private sector. The HHSC is not currently considering privatizing investigations that CPS currently conducts.

UPDATE #2: However, CSSB 6, by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville), would privatize almost 100% of CPS services by 2009. UPDATE #1 (thank you Kimberly) CSSB 6 would privatize all CPS services, including case management functions that are not currently performed by private agencies, except for investigations - the initial decision to remove a child from their home.

CSSB 6 would reserve that decision for CPS to make, but once removed from their home, a child's future would be determined by private companies since they would have a substantial role in determining a child's legal status, meaning if they should go back to their home, another foster home, etc. This means private - for-profit and non-profit - companies could profit off a child being removed from their home.

See CPPP's CPS policy page [PDF]

Services not currently privatized that would be under CSSB 6 include: having a role in determining the child's legal status, selecting a caregiver for the child, preparing court reports for approval by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), and attending court hearings concerning a child in child care.

Unfortunately, privatization fails to address obtaining adequate services, reducing caseloads, and reducing turnover. There is little evidence to show that full privatization would lead to increase quality of services. Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says that "nothing inherent in privatization will solve the toughest crises facing the agency: a shortage of well-trained workers, a dearth of good-quality foster homes, and insufficient social services, such as mental health and drug and alcohol counseling." It is also unclear as to how much oversight CSSB 6 would provide.

CPS costs could actually increase under CSSB 6 due to an added layer of bureaucracy - an "independent administrator" that would oversee and coordinate efforts between the state and private sector services.

McCown was also quoted: "Who might have that job? Lockheed Martin, Accenture, [and] the children's division of Enron."

CSSB 6 was voted out of committee yesterday, and it will be heard on the House floor soon.


At 11:58 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Geez, Louise. Once more you're ahead of me. I ran into Hupp and went down to get the substitute yesterday evening. If I wasn't blogging, I'd be writing all this. ALAS!

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

But the other part, and I need to go back and read what others have written, is which part is being privatized. McCown made it clear in his conference call last week that we're talking about a subset of a subset, unless the bill has changed substantially. The part to be privatized is not the removal but the conservatorship of the child.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger imasuit said...

Actually, thanks for pointing that out - I need to clarify that initial investigations would be determined by the state but after that, private companies would have a substantial role in determining a child's legal status, meaning if they should go back to their home, another foster home, etc. But the initial decision to remove a child from their home would be made by CPS. So I'll re-word the sentence at the end of the first paragraph, but the title of the post still stands.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger imasuit said...

A classic case of why you should double-checking your work: from everything I read, all I saw was "the House Bill" - referring to what I thought was HB 6 by Hupp, which I knew was the House version of the CPS overhaul. However, it's not HB 6 that passed out of the House committee yesterday, it's CSSB 6, by Jane Nelson.


At 8:07 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Finally... I knew something! ha ha

At 8:44 AM, Blogger imasuit said...

I've been trying so hard not to be wrong but alas Polyanna alas you got me

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