News Roundup: Head Of Texas Family And Protective Services Agency Resigns

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 29, 2019 1:55 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The head of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is stepping down in June.

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Hank Whitman to the post in 2016.

Whitman, who had previously spent over two decades at the Texas Department of Public Safety and had been chief of the Texas Rangers. took on the position amid a crisis at the child welfare agency. At that time, there was a spike in the number of kids sleeping in state offices and significant turnover among staff. On top of that, a federal judge had recently ruled the state’s foster care system unconstitutional as part of a class action lawsuit that is still ongoing.

In a video posted on the agency’s YouTube channel, Whitman reflected on advances made at the agency since that turbulent time.

“We worked for well-deserved pay raises for program staff to help reduce turnover and caseloads and we made significant progress on many other fronts,” Whitman said in the video.

Lee Nichols is with the child welfare advocacy group, TexProtects.

He says fighting for staff raises at the state legislature is one of the most significant achievements Whitman will be remembered for.

“And you know, we have a fiscally conservative legislature, and it’s hard to go to them and ask for money, but he worked with us, he worked with other organizations, he was able to demonstrate to the legislature the very bad effect that the low pay and understaffing was having.” Nichols says.

Gov. Abbott will be picking someone to replace Whitman. Miriam Nisenbaum, the executive director of the National Association of Social Workers, Texas Chapter says there are a few things she’d like to see Abbott look for in a successor.

“Particularly someone with a strong social work background and the necessary skills to manage would be a great opportunity for DFPS,” Nisenbaum says.

Nisenbaum adds another important trait took look for is “someone who has the nimbleness and the experience to navigate the legislative and political landscape – that really is a big part of that job.”

Whitman’s last day will be June 30.

Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke introduced his plan to tackle the country’s immigration laws.

Texas Public Radio’s Lauren Terrazas reports the former Texas Congressman’s plan is built around a three-part framework.

Beto O’Rourke pledges to use executive action on day one of his presidency to end policies enacted by the Trump administration. His plan includes reforming the country’s asylum laws and sending 2,000 immigration attorneys to the southern border to help asylum seekers. O’Rourke added only migrants with a criminal background would be subject to detention.

Part two of his plan involves working with Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

O’Rourke also wants to invest $5 billion to help fight poverty and violence in Central America.

The El Paso Democrat is the second presidential candidate to release a detailed immigration proposal. Former Housing Secretary and fellow Texan, Julián Castro, released his plan in April.

A fire that began in Mexico and then jumped the Rio Grande into Big Bend National park is almost fully contained after burning for a week.
The Texas A&M Forest Service says the Castolon Fire is about 90 percent contained.