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Newsletter: Taking Action on an Urgent Challenge

I've said in recent months that one of our top priorities in the next legislative session will be improving the state's system of protecting children from abuse. Last week, I joined with other state leaders to speed up that effort.

The state's Child Protective Services agency has not been stepping in quickly enough to help children in danger. High turnover among agency staff has contributed to a high caseloads, meaning children aren't getting attention quickly enough. So last week, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and I directed the agency to develop plans to immediately reduce the backlog.

It's my hope that the state will quickly implement those plans in order to provide help before the Legislature meets again in January. Then, during our five-month session next year, we can make more lasting improvements that will reduce employee turnover, increase the number of foster homes in the state, and make the agency operate better.

Some of these changes may require additional resources. It's important to remember that the House is going to continue using taxpayer resources very carefully; we will balance the budget and live within the state's means. But we will also set priorities. And protecting children from abuse is one of our most basic and important responsibilities. I'm confident that we can address this challenge while keeping our commitment to fiscal discipline in the overall budget.