WE ARE TSEU – FPS member profiles

grady-asherI am Grady Asher

I have been employed with DFPS since August 2007. My career with DFPS began as a specialist in the Family Group Decision Making program in Region 3. I was assigned to facilitate and coordinate Circle of Support meetings for youth age 16 and older in DFPS custody. Circle of Support meetings are youth driven meetings designed to help the youth develop a transition plan for aging out of foster care. I traveled to most of the 19 counties in Region 3 to facilitate meetings.  Currently, I am a Kinship Development Specialist in Region 3. I work with relative caregivers who are the placement for children in DFPS custody. My current case load averages 40 kinship homes. I enjoy working with kinship caregivers.

I joined TSEU in 2012. Initially, I joined the union when a co-worker asked me to join. As my time with the state increased, I began paying attention to the possibility of eliminating longevity pay, potential increases in cost of health coverage, and staff reorganizing. The union provided an update about legislative changes and proposals that got my attention. I was blown away with the statistics regarding low salaries, high caseloads, and lack of raises for employees not just at DFPS but other state agencies. I decided to attend Lobby Day in 2015. I witnessed the passion from union members across the state. I met retirees who remain committed to advocating for current state employees and retirees. I shared my experience at Lobby Day with my family and co-workers and they recognized my excitement.

TSEU provides me with an opportunity to have a voice in my future as a state employee. One phone call to a state representative can make a difference. I will continue to attend union events and meetings as an advocate for current and future state employees.  Join TSEU today!


cope-fps-oc-a-reynolds-m-copeland-l-lewisI am Michelle Copeland

I have been employed with DFPS since 2007. I am employed in Region 06, with the conservatorship program as a Conservatorship Specialist trained to protect children who are in DFPS custody. When DFPS is the temporary managing conservator of a child(ren), the cases are open for a minimum of one year. My caseloads have increased to more than 35 children at one time – that does not include parents, relatives, foster parents, educational staff, legal staff or medical professionals that are also involved with each child. It is a privilege to be one of the primary individuals responsible for seeking a forever home for children who are left betrayed, abused and unprotected by their parents or relatives.

I joined TSEU in 2008 after a threat of internal reorganization and possible lay-offs by DFPS. There were also several internal complaints regarding high caseloads, being under-paid, and legislative decisions that severely handicapped the ability to be an effective conservatorship caseworker. After joining TSEU I maintained a sense of job security and employment practice protection. As I continued to make my monthly payments, I was obliged to become more involved by volunteering at Lobby Day events and attending union meetings. It is now 2015, and as an actively involved member of TSEU we will continue to propose logic to increase employee pay raises, protect employment positions, protect employment benefits, and demonstrate that all employees have a voice at DFPS!

Your opinion matters! Regardless of how long you have been employed by the State, you are an employee decision-maker. You can help increase your pay raise. You can personally inform the legislators of your experiences as an employee. You can become an effective catalyst of employee improvements for DFPS and the children/families we protect. Your direct optimism is necessary to address your personal employment experiences and DFPS program concerns. Don’t just help protect the unprotected – nourish your employment opportunity! –Solidarity


violaI am Viola Waters

I have been employed with DFPS since December, 1996.  I am currently employed in Region 8 with the Family Group Decision Making program as a specialist. At this time, I do not carry a case load, but in the past I have.  I have worked as a generic case worker, then as an Investigator, and then moved to San Antonio, TX to become an Investigator supervisor.  So, yes I have seen the majority of the stages of DFPS.  I am aware of working late hours in order to keep the children safe. I have enjoyed the times when the parents successfully completed their services and the children are able to go back home to a safer and more stable environment. Of course, there are the “sad” times when the children remain in the custody of the department until a “forever family” is found for them.

I joined TSEU May 2003 while still in Victoria, TX, but the union’s presence was very low.  However, when I moved to San Antonio, TX, the union had a great presence in the offices. I have enjoyed attending the union meetings and going to march during Lobby day. That is really when I became involved in trying to recruit more staff to join.  That was especially true when there was talk of some of the stages of DFPS going private.  Also, another important factor was when the new case workers would leave after the BSD was completed due to high caseloads and not enough pay.

After this last “pay raise” that was a pay-cut, I wondered if my presence in the union made a difference.  However, after thinking it through, I realize that the union has done quite a lot for the employees. I will continue to participate in meetings and events, especially Lobby Day.  I will also continue to ask my coworkers to join the as well.  Together we can be strong and be heard at the Capitol.  Together we will be able to get the decent pay raise that we deserved.



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