October 14, 2004
The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor, State of Texas
Capitol Building, Room 2S.1
Austin, Texas 78701
Dear Governor Perry:
I respectfully request that you declare my foster care reform package emergency legislation to be considered in the first 30 days of the 79th Legislature. This will enable lawmakers to suspend rules and immediately begin passing the reforms that address the crisis at the Department of Family and Protective Services.
Furthermore, I urge you to immediately create a Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team by executive order.
The recent report on child protective service investigations released by your Inspector General confirms that the system is failing our children. As you said, "The problems are systemic and indicate a managerial crisis."
We can no longer wait to turn around this critically wounded agency. The sweeping reform legislation that I turned over today to the Legislature is needed for long-term accountability. A crisis management team composed of experts from other agencies would stabilize the agency during the change of management and provide technical assistance on contracting, licensing, technology and investigations.
The crisis grows minute by minute, child by child. By drawing on assistance and expertise from staff in other agencies immediate action can be taken to protect our forgotten children. Fundamental change must begin now. It is time to put our most vulnerable Texans - our children - first.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn