The Big Conversation

The operations of Texas’ Child Protective Services agency — including the oversight of the state’s foster care system and the investigation of reports of abuse — are facing increased scrutiny.

The Tribune’s Edgar Walters reported that the foster care system has been giving off distress signals for months and that caseworkers and other employees are trying to keep the system from collapsing. 

Officials are scrambling to find homes for an influx of traumatized children. And advocates say that if the state can't find more money to ensure good homes, “children will continue to endure hardships that rob them of a chance at success,” Walters wrote.

Documents reveal that a chain of errors, incompetence and systemic problems at CPS prevented the agency from protecting 4-year-old Leiliana Wright, The Dallas Morning News’ J. David McSwane wrote.

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The Grand Prairie child’s March 13 death has prompted firings, resignations and finger-pointing at the agency, McSwane reported. He added that social workers had been warned that Leiliana might be in danger two months before she died. Her mother and mother’s boyfriend face charges of felony injury to a child.

And despite being told to mend its ways a year ago by Gov. Greg Abbott, CPS, by most measures, is doing worse, the Austin American-Statesman’s Andrea Ball reported.

The number of child deaths has increased. So has the number of abused and neglected kids. Investigations are dragging onwhich means more children are being left in potentially dangerous situations, Ball wrote.

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: No Middle Ground in Race to Lead Texas GOP, by Ross Ramsey — The contest between current Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler and his opponent, Jared Woodfill, is about purity, about which kinds of conservatives the Texas GOP represents and about what the party is supposed to be doing.

Cruz Sweeps Delegates Up for Grabs in Colorado, by Patrick Svitek — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has swept all the delegates up for grabs in Colorado, a victory that further illustrates the organizational strength of his campaign in comparison with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

At Meeting of Jewish Donors, Cruz Talks Up Electability, by Patrick Svitek — Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday, Ted Cruz made an extensive argument that he is the most viable Republican presidential candidate.

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How UT-Dallas Transformed Itself into a Top Texas College, by Matthew Watkins — Once a commuter school, the University of Texas at Dallas has remodeled itself into one of the top-ranked public universities in the state.

Officials' Personal Email Addresses Open to Public, Court Says, by Johnathan Silver — Public officials who use private email accounts to conduct official business cannot conceal their personal email addresses when releasing public information, a state appeals court ruled Friday.

Slow Path for GED Alternatives in Texas, by Kiah Collier — The State Board of Education recently took more steps toward allowing two new companies to begin administering high school equivalency tests in Texas, but the pace is frustrating adult education advocates.

Foster Care Teen Arrested in UT Student's Death, by Jordan Rudner and Edgar Walters — A 17-year-old arrested in connection with the death of University of Texas at Austin student Haruka Weiser is in the care of the Texas foster youth system, an official said Friday.

The Day Ahead

•    The Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System meets at 10 a.m. at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Lawmakers will discuss if it’s possible to construct a coastal barrier system. Written testimony will be accepted, and public testimony will be limited to three minutes.

Elsewhere

Trump aide Manafort: Cruz campaign using ‘Gestapo’ tactics, Politico

Republicans pick Texan to help smooth way for national convention, San Antonio Express-News

Payday lender used in driver payment program, El Paso Times

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Depressed Texas power prices mean cheap electricity, plant closures, Houston Chronicle

Miller used state, campaign funds on trip to compete in rodeo, Houston Chronicle

Top cartel leader appeared to find temporary haven in Texas, The Associated Press

Texas county to fight to retain ban on guns at courthouse, The Associated Press

Cruz would be the most conservative nominee in generations, Politico

The not-so-new reality for Texas governors, San Antonio Express-News

New approaches improve Children’s Court outcomes, San Antonio Express-News

Cruz uses party rules to pursue delegates. Here’s what Trump thinks of that, The Washington Post

Quote to Note

“If there is one thing the success of Cruz and Trump has shown, it is that there are bigger forces driving the Republican Party's behavior than too few golf outings and cocktail parties.”

Dan Pfeiffer, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, talking about the current state of the Republican Party.

Today in TribTalk

The consequences of Texas' abortion law on Asian American women, by Miriam W. Yeung and Nimra Chowdhry — The outcome of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt could have devastating effects on Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls in Texas and all across the country.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on Wednesday at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    A Conversation with Dawn Buckingham on April 21 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation on San Antonio & the Legislature: The Issues in the Interim on April 26 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston

•    The Texas Tribune's third Texas-centric Trivia Night on May 1 at The Highball in Austin

•    A Conversation on Mental Health Matters on May 10 at KLRU Studio 6A in Austin