Texas CASA and Child Advocates, Inc. recognized exceptional leadership by State Representatives Sarah Davis and Gene Wu on behalf of children in foster care with the presentation of Big Voices for Little Texans® awards at a Child Advocates luncheon in Houston on Thursday, Aug. 23.
Rep. Davis served as chair of the Appropriations subcommittee handling all health and human services funding (which totals around $40 billion annually), and later as a House leader on these issues in negotiations with the Senate. Thanks to her leadership and hard work, funding for child protection was made a major funding priority and appropriations for the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) were increased by more than $500 million for this biennium. This new funding is lowering CPS caseworker caseloads and reducing employee attrition. New funding also increased rates for foster care providers, helping to expand capacity, and provided a new funding stream to support kinship families.
Rep. Wu had a huge impact on our child protection system and laws during the 2017 Legislative Session. Rep. Wu is a practicing attorney in child protection and juvenile cases. He used his expertise to conduct an exhaustive analysis of problems with the Texas Family Code and our child protection system, and identified opportunities to improve the law in a variety of ways. After filing more than two dozen bills related to these issues, he crafted an omnibus bill, House Bill 7. Among many important provisions, HB 7: requires notice of placement changes to health care providers; changes the procedure for admitting and releasing children in mental health facilities; expands licensing categories in foster care; significantly expands the powers and duties of guardians ad litem – a CASA priority; and strengthens judicial review of possible relative or kinship placements for children in state care. Rep. Wu also worked with Rep. Davis on funding issues for DFPS.
Join us in recognizing these legislators for their leadership on behalf of our most vulnerable children!