The Texas House Human Services Committee held their first interim hearing on Nov. 12, 2019. The committee heard updates on Medicaid 1115 waivers, the implementation and rollout of Community-Based Care, and the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act. Much of the six-hour hearing was dedicated to hearing testimony on the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) process for investigating child abuse and initiating removals in cases which involved a Child Abuse Pediatrician (CAP).
Testifying before the committee were representatives from DFPS leadership, the Texas Hospital Association and the legal community, along with a CAP and several families whose children had been removed through an investigation involving a CAP. DFPS and the Texas Hospital Association both clarified their processes related to CAPs. A pediatrician, speaking on behalf of the Texas Pediatric Society, explained how CAPs are trained and utilized in a CPS case (they can be called as expert witnesses but never make a removal decision themselves). The hearing featured emotional stories from families. Members of the legal community also shared their experiences with and opinions of the role of CAPs in child abuse cases.
The committee stated they would be further exploring this issue during the interim. Texas CASA will be monitoring the hearings and any reports and legislation that result from these interim charges.