The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
These days, it’s easier for the state’s child welfare agency to hold onto employees.
That’s after a December 2016 infusion of more than $140 million of emergency funding into the state’s long-struggling child protective services system.
Bob Garrett, with the Dallas Morning News, has found that higher salaries seem to be translating into higher retention rates.
“In January and February of this year the caseworkers statewide who departed were leaving at an average of 72 a month,” he says. “That’s a lot, but that’s down from a 131 a month from the last four months at the old pay scale. So that’s nearly cut in half.”
How much higher are those salaries?
“About 6,000 caseworkers and special investigators who are former cops, each got 12,000 dollars more a year,” Garrett says. “And the supervisors, program administrators, program directors, and regional directors, got either 10 or 20 percent raises.”
Child Protective Services has also filled 636 of the 829 new positions that state lawmakers allowed the agency to start hiring.
That’s made it a lot easier for caseworkers to actually get out to see kids who are at the highest risk for abuse.
“One of the big things that spurred the leadership’s decision to spend this money – and they don’t like to spend money if you haven’t noticed of the Republican leadership,” he says, “was that we reported on thousands of kids not being seen for initial face-to-face assessment, which is a critical building block in child welfare and they are now reaching the most urgent kids, priority 1 kids, 92 percent of the time within the 24 hours required by state law. Just in January, that was only 78 percent.”
But in some specific CPS regions – like Dallas, Tyler, Houston, and Austin – the rate at which investigators are making face-to-face contact is still below 90 percent.
A Texas House committee has approved its version of legislation addressing so-called “sanctuary cities.”
The state Senate passed its own bill in February, and some provisions are the same. For example, law enforcement leaders like police chiefs and sheriffs would face Class A Misdemeanors if they don’t cooperate with federal detention requests for undocumented immigrants.
But, in the House bill, officers can only ask about someone’s immigration status if they are arrested – not just if they’re detained.
Still, Democrats who oppose the bill, like Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), say the measures are more political than practical.
“It doesn’t help local law enforcement; it doesn’t make us any safer,” Anchia said, speaking with the ABC station in Austin.
The bill will now head to the full House.
After getting a new location for his criminal trial on securities fraud charges – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also has a new trial date: Sept. 12.
Earlier this week, a judge moved the trial from Collin County to Harris County after concerns that Paxton and his supporters tainted the jury pool.