On Thursday, December 1st, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) approved DFPS’ request for targeted pay raises and additional staff. The details for the pay raise and the new staffing requested by the agency are below. Other than the addition of unspecified “accountability measures,” it appears the agency’s official request was approved by the LBB.
The targeted raises are a much needed, large step towards lowering the employee turnover rate in the agency, and are happening in large part because of the pressure brought to bear on legislators and agency officials by the union and a coalition of advocacy organizations. However without a truly across the board pay raise that includes all staff in the agency, the turnover crisis will simply shift to other parts of the agency and to other positions. TSEU members will continue to lead the fight to include ALL staff in a meaningful raise during the legislative session. The exclusion of staff in APS,CCL, and RCCL, as well as Support Staff in CPS- from HSTs and Administrative Assistants, to Contracting Specialists, Day Care Coordinators, and Intake Specialists- undermines the critical role of all FPS employees in serving and protecting vulnerable Texans.
Learning from the past
It will be all too easy for elected officials to wash their hands of the crisis facing DFPS because of the approval of the targeted raises. Some will likely claim nothing else needs to be done since the raises “fixed” the agency. This is what happened following the last legislative attempt to reduce turnover via pay. Following a series of high profile tragedies, in 2005 legislators funded the $5000 ($6180 in 2016 dollars) stipend for investigators to address the out of control turnover rate in CPS Investigations. The stipend didn’t reduce turnover because workloads remained at unsafe levels. It also caused an exodus from other parts of the agency as employees transferred to get the stipend. This caused caseloads to spike in other programs because of the vacancies. If State Leaders don’t address the needs of the whole agency during the session, the same set of unintended consequences could happen again despite the targeted raise and new positions.
Preparing for what’s next
The budget for the next biennium (FY 18-19) will be finalized by Legislators in Austin during the upcoming legislative session, which starts January 10th and ends May 30th. TSEU members will be leading the fight for caseload standards, a real across the board pay raise, and against privatization. Low pay and high caseloads are clearly obstacles to quality services. While the emergency funding for targeted raises and more staff are positive steps towards addressing the problems in our agency, legislators should not wait for the next tragedy to grab headlines. Members will be working to hold legislators accountable and asking them to take action to prevent the next crisis.
TSEU members have made a big difference, and we should be proud of the work that we have done recently and over the years. We know nothing will happen if we just “wait and see” or “think about it.” Unfortunately, too many of our coworkers are on the sidelines instead of in the fight for what we need. Ask a coworker to join today! (If you are reading this without being a member, click on the link and fill out the form. We’re thrilled you want information from the union, but it’s more important to be involved than just to be well informed.)
Mark your calendar
- TSEU members will be asked to contact legislators throughout the next session as important pieces of legislation move through the process. Please make sure TSEU has your updated personal email address and phone number.
- On Wed. Feb. 15th TSEU members in DFPS will be holding our FPS Mini Lobby Day in Austin. We’ll meet together first, then head to the Capitol to discuss our agency specific issues and legislation with State Reps, Senators, and their staff. Please contact your TSEU organizer if you are interested.
- On Wed. Apr. 12th, TSEU will be holding the all-state employee and retiree Lobby Day at the Capitol. Buses will be picking up members, our families, friends, and supporters all over the state. We’ll have a march and rally outside the Capitol, then break up into teams to meet with Legislators and their staff. Lobby Day is our chance to send decision-makers a strong message that state employees are paying attention. Tickets are $15 and include lunch. Get on the bus!
Pay Raises approved by LBB
Caseworker raises in following programs- additional $1,000 per month
- Foster and Adopt
- Family Based Safety Services
- I See You
- Other (?)
- Special Investigator
- Preparation for Adult Living
Supervisor raises in programs listed above- 20% additional per month
Administrator raises for following titles- 10% additional per month
- Program Director
- Program Director (SIs)
- Program Administrator
- Assistant Regional Director
- Deputy Regional Director
- Regional Director