Tribpedia: Dept Of Family And Protective Services

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is charged with protecting children, the elderly, and adults with disabilities from abuse, neglect and mistreatment. The agency monitors care and conditions in private homes and in state facilities, investigates abuse and neglect, and licenses group homes and day-care centers.

DFPS, which has 6,800 employees in 250 offices across the ...

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Sept. 13, 2010

Ramsey on the fourth University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll (with insights into the statewide races, issues, the budget, and Texans' view of the national scene), Hamilton and Thevenot in Galveston on the anniversary of Hurricane Ike, Ramshaw on secret hearings that separate children from their guardians, Hu on what former state Rep. Bill Zedler did for doctor-donors who were under investigation, Aguilar on the troubles around Mexico's bicentennial, Galbraith talks coal and wind with the head of the Sierra Club, E. Smith interviews state Rep. Debbie Riddle about tourism babies and godless liberals, Grissom on why complaints about city jails go unaddressed, Philpott on the debate that will apparently never happen and Stiles continues to put the major-party gubernatorial candidates on the map: The best of our best from September 13 to 17, 2010.

Former Foster Kids Struggle to Get Records

Young adults who age out of Texas foster care often request their records to reconnect with estranged siblings, to track down biological families or to understand what they endured. But child welfare advocates complain the state routinely denies these requests, saying the records can't be found or will take months or even years to compile — assuming they respond at all. State officials admit they have a large backlog but insist they've beefed up staff and are putting new policies in place to address it.

State Considers Tougher Child Care Requirements

At a hearing today, the Department of Family and Protective Services will consider stricter caregiver-to-child ratios for child care centers — but improved care for Texas toddlers could also mean less income for child care providers and higher tuition for families.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of June 28, 2010

Grissom, Hamilton, and Philpott on the Texas Democratic Party's state convention, the two-step, the forecast, and the ticket; Galbraith on the political and environmental battle between state and federal environmental regulators, and on a new age of nukes in Texas; Burnson on signs of the times in San Antonio; Ramshaw on hackers breaking into the state's confidential cancer database; Aguilar's interview with Katherine Glass, the Libertarian Party's nominee for governor; Acosta on efforts to stop 'Murderabilia' items that sell because of the association with killers;  Ramshaw and the Houston Chronicle's Terri Langford on the criminal arrest records of workers in state-funded foster care centers; Hu on accusations that state Sunset examiners missed problems with workers compensation regulators because they didn't ask the right questions of the right people; Ramsey and Stiles on the rush to rake in campaign cash, and on political races that could be won or lost because of voter attraction to Libertarian candidates; and Aguilar's fresh take on South Texas' reputation for corruption. The best of our best from June 28 to July 3, 2010.

Criminal Records Don't Prohibit Child Care Work

Criminal records don't always exclude job applicants from working with the most vulnerable foster care children, according to a Texas Tribune/Houston Chronicle investigation. At Daystar Residential Inc., where workers forced developmentally disabled girls to fight each other, dozens made it through the state's background check process in the last three years despite records of arrests.

State Halts Daystar Admissions, Reports New Abuse

Texas officials have halted the placement of foster care children at Daystar and have assigned the Houston-area residential treatment center a state monitor following revelations of a staff-instigated “fight club” incident two years ago and a new incident that has come to light this past week: a possible sexual assault of a girl living at the facility.

Richard DeMaar in his Fairbanks, Alaska home.
Richard DeMaar in his Fairbanks, Alaska home.

Out of State Kids May Suffer in Texas Care Facilities

Alaska officials sent 16-year-old Richard DeMaar 4,000 miles away from his parents to a psychiatric facility in San Antonio because his home state wasn’t equipped to handle his severe depression. Within six weeks, he had tied a makeshift noose around his neck, strangling himself to death. He's one of roughly 900 out-of-state kids sent to residential treatment centers in Texas in the last five years, part of a national compact that allows states that don't have adequate psychiatric services to send kids to states that do. But the practice has come under fire from children’s health advocates, who say it takes kids away from their families and their communities — two things they need to make a full-fledged recovery.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Jun 7, 2010

Ramshaw and the Houston Chronicle's Terri Langford on incidents of abuse and mistreatment at residential treatment centers, M. Smith on the state Republican Party platform and 10th Amendment embracers, Galbraith on a pipeline project raising crude concerns and the most important word in water law, Ramsey on former officeholders who are now lobbyists and the possibility of a speaker's race, Grissom on a fight over solar power in Marfa, Hamilton and Aguilar on the TxDOT audit, Philpott on budget cuts affecting school districts and my conversation with Dallas County D.A. Craig Watkins: The best of our best from June 7-11, 2010.

The Daystar Residential Inc. campus, in Manvel, photographed on Saturday, June 5, 2010.
The Daystar Residential Inc. campus, in Manvel, photographed on Saturday, June 5, 2010.

Governor Responds to 'Fight Club' Abuse

Gov. Rick Perry's office said this evening that it has ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services to review its investigation and sanction policies in light of a Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune article on staffers who forced young girls to fight at a Houston-area residential treatment center for foster children.

The Dystar Residential Inc. campus, in Manvel, photographed on Friday, June 4, 2010.
The Dystar Residential Inc. campus, in Manvel, photographed on Friday, June 4, 2010.

Staff Forced Disabled Girls to Fight in Youth Home

Workers at a center for distressed children in Manvel provoked seven developmentally disabled girls into a fight of biting and bruising, while they laughed, cheered and promised the winners after-school snacks. The fight was one of more than 250 incidents of abuse and mistreatment in residential treatment centers over the last two years, based on a Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune review of Department of Family and Protective Services records.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Feb 22, 2010

Ramshaw on the state's quiet sharing of infant blood samples with the military and on the things Rick Perry's opponents aren't saying about him, Grissom on Farouk Shami's surprising popularity in El Paso, Philpott on the political advantages of a job creation fund and how Debra Medina's supporters are reacting to her "truther" comments, Hu on Debra Medina in the latest installment of Stump Interrupted, Thevenot on how the kids feel about the federal option of closing bad high schools, Rapoport on the newest mutation of the state's pay-as-you-go transportation philosophy, and our roundup of party primaries in the last week before the election: Rapoport on HD-7, Ramsey on HD-11, Aguilar on HD-36 and HD-43, Philpott on HD-47, Thevenot on HD-52 and SD-5, Kreighbaum on HD-105 and one Supreme Court race, M. Smith on another, and Hamilton on the colorful Democratic candidates for Agriculture Commissioner. The best of our best from February 22 to 26, 2010.

TWC Spent Millions on Troubled Day Cares

The Texas Workforce Commission spent nearly $50 million during the last two years on day care centers and in-home childcare providers with troubled track records — including sexual and physical abuse, kidnapping, and leaving infants to suffocate and die in their cribs. A Texas Tribune review found that at least 135 subsidized facilities had their licenses revoked or denied by the Department of Family and Protective Services in 2008 and 2009 and had their funding immediately suspended.

Disability Workers Rarely Prosecuted for Violence

State employees who commit heinous acts against Texas' most profoundly disabled citizens rarely get charged with crimes, let alone go to jail. A Texas Tribune review of a decade’s worth of abuse and neglect firings at state institutions found that just 16 percent of the most violent or negligent employees were ever charged with crimes.