Subscribe to receive our Floor Reports covering all the action on the Texas House and Senate floor!
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB4, Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($43,440,266) through the biennium ending August 31, 2019. The agency is not required to implement the legislation in the absence of an appropriation.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
This bill would allow the Department of Family and Protective Services to give monetary assistance to relative caregivers with family income of less than or equal to 300% of the federal poverty level. The bill would require the department to provide assistance to a relative "caregiver who has a family income that is less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty level" at a rate not to exceed 50% of the department's daily basic foster care rate for the child. The bill further stipulates that "a caregiver who has a family income greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty level is not eligible for monetary assistance under this section."
The department would be required to disburse monetary assistance provided to the relative caregiver in the same manner as the department disburses payments to a foster parent. The department would also be required to implement a process to verify the family income of a relative caregiver or other designated caregiver for the purpose of determining eligibility.
The bill further provides that if a person who has a family income that is less than or equal to 300% of the federal poverty level enters into a caregiver assistance agreement with the department, obtains managing conservatorship of a child, and meets all other eligibility requirements, that person may receive an annual reimbursement of expenses for the child not to exceed $500 per year until the earlier of the third anniversary of the date the person was awarded managing conservatorship or the child's 18th birthday.
A person would commit an offense if, "with intent to
defraud or deceive the department, the person knowingly makes or
causes to be made a false statement or misrepresentation of a
material fact that allows a person to enter into a caregiver
assistance agreement." Criminal penalties would apply.
We recognize that HB 4 has what some would deem a rather large fiscal note. However, the bill encourages personal responsibility in caring for family members under the conservatorship of DFPS who would otherwise be placed with non-relative caregivers. Often monetary reasons are what prevents children from staying with family members and sends children instead into the foster care system to be placed with non-family caregivers. Research overwhelmingly shows that when children stay with kin they are more likely to have successful outcomes in life and become productive members of society.
By keeping children in kinship placements we are statistically decreasing the likelihood of them becoming high school dropouts, entering into the justice system, and being on welfare programs in the future. These externalities cannot be fully quantified at this time but would likely help outweigh the costs of this bill and benefit society as a whole. For these reasons we support HB 4.