Teen Dies In CPS Custody As House Committee Considers Privatizing More Child Welfare Functions

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 3, 2017 11:43 am

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

Monday morning, members of the House Committee on Human Services took up a couple of bills concerning the state’s child welfare agency and foster care system.

One of those pieces of legislation is House Bill 6.

Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) filed the bill which would increasingly outsource services provided by Child Protective Services (CPS), to local, community-based organizations.

Over 90 percent of CPS foster home placements are already made through private agencies.

“It’s simply to improve the foster care system and ensure that the system can be more responsive and accountable to the communities around Texas,” Frank says. “It’s really more about decentralization in its model and structure than the current one-size-fits-all, top-down system currently being run in our foster care system around Texas.”

Under this new model, instead of a state CPS worker managing a foster child’s case – that role would be filled by a social worker at a private group or nonprofit.

The hearing comes on the heels of the death of a 15-year-old foster girl. She had been staying at a CPS office in the Houston-area because the state couldn’t find a private provider to take her case, and place her in a foster home. The foster girl was struck and killed by a car early Sunday after she and another girl fled the CPS office. The teenagers had run away from the office 10 hours earlier. The Dallas Morning News reports that this is the first time a child who was in the care of the state died while staying at a CPS office.

In 2016, the United States spent more than any other country in the world on research and development. The U.S. nabbed a number four spot on the Global Innovation Index.

But the folks at WalletHub wanted to see which states were more innovative than others.

Jill Gonzalez is an analyst with the finance site. She says first they looked at human capital – like the number of people working in science, technology, engineering, and math professions.

“We then looked at the overall innovation environment, so the share of technology companies, R&D spending per capita, and the corporate tax friendliness climate,” she says.

WalletHub found that Texas was the 15th most innovative state in the country. And it charted even higher in specific categories.

“One was the start-up activity index,” Gonzalez says. “And that rates Texas on three dimensions: new entrepreneurs, opportunity share and start-up density. So a few Texas cities have really excelled in those areas and made Texas the fourth best on that index.”

Gonzalez said that Texas was also more likely to embrace new technologies.

“Texas is very supportive of things like drones, as so much as laws and cooperation there, so Texas was also in the top 10 for that,” Gonzalez says.

The most innovative spot in the country? The District of Columbia.

Right across the border from El Paso, a Juarez newspaper is shutting down.

On Sunday the head of El Norte de Juarez said the decision to shutter the paper stemmed from the unpunished killing of journalists in Mexico.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico over the last 25 years – explicitly because of their jobs as journalists.