On March 11, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced the appointment and creation of a new Special Senate Committee on Child Protective Services, chaired by Senator Lois Kolkhorst. The committee held its first hearing on March 17 to discuss accusations made against The Refuge, a Bastrop shelter for sex trafficking survivors. Staff members at the state-licensed facility were accused of coercing victims placed at The Refuge into taking nude photos. The Senate Committee heard testimony from leadership from The Texas Department of Public Safety, The Department of Family and Protective Services, the Legislative Budget Board, and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
The Texas House Human Services Committee also held a hearing on this issue on March 21. The Committee heard testimony about the ongoing federal lawsuit, the foster care capacity crisis and implementation efforts related to child welfare legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. The committees will continue to meet throughout the interim to review the ongoing challenges facing DFPS. To view the recorded hearings, please visit the House and Senate websites. You can also view the House and Senate interim committee charges.