Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

Testimony: Submitted on behalf of: Texas Pediatric Society and the Texas Medical Association

House Appropriations Committee
Article II – Department of Family and Protective Services

Feb. 13, 2019

Chair Davis, Vice Chair Sheffield, and Committee Members,

The Texas Pediatric Society and the Texas Medical Association would like to offer support for increased investment in prevention and early intervention (PEI) programs. We appreciate the leadership of this committee in preventing child abuse and neglect, and preserving families.

Our organizations urge the legislature to fund the Department of Family and Protective Services Exceptional Item No. 8: $15.4 million each year of the biennium to expand PEI programs. While all children and families will experience varying degrees of stress, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has concluded that the presence of protective factors such as parental knowledge and resilience, social connections, concrete and tangible support in times of need, and social emotional competence are paramount in determining how the child and family fare in times of stress.[1] 

PEI administers a range of voluntary, community-based prevention programs for children and families at risk, providing needed supports that prevent abuse and neglect, promote family resiliency, and provide long-term cost savings to the state by avoiding costly involvement with the child welfare system. For instance, in FY 2017, the Nurse-Family Partnership, a nurse home visiting program, demonstrated not only fewer childhood injuries and instances of abuse and neglect in families served, but also a return on investment of more than 500 percent for dollars spent on high-risk populations and a nearly 300-percent return for dollars spent on all individuals served.[2] The agency’s request aligns with the PEI Five-Year Strategic Plan to “maximize the impact of current investments and seek additional resources to serve more children, youth, and families and strengthen communities.”[3]  

Our pediatrician and other physician members know that education and support to caregivers is critical in helping them better understand child development, foster healthy coping mechanisms, and use appropriate discipline techniques, all of which help break intergenerational cycles of abuse and neglect. Our organizations strongly support increased funding for state PEI programs that keep families together and prevent the need for costly downstream services. Thank you for the opportunity to testify and for the dedication of this committee to the health and safety of Texas children. We look forward to continued partnership with the legislature to build upon our existing efforts in the prevention of child abuse and neglect and the preservation of families.

[1] American Academy of Pediatrics (2018). The Resilience Project. 

[2] Texas DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention (December 2017). Supporting New Families and Investing in the Newest Texans: Texas Nurse Family Partnership Statewide Grant Program Evaluation Report, Fiscal Year 2016. 

[3] Texas DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention (September 2016). PEI Five-Year Strategic Plan.

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February 13, 2019

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