FPS union members testify on turnover, pay

On Wednesday, September 10, the House Select Committee on Child Protection met to discuss staff turnover in CPS and the agency’s efforts to make improvements in the work environment. Much of the testimony and discussion centered on the Sunset Committee recommendations to mentor new staff, revise the performance evaluation system, review how policies are made, and how to use data more efficiently. Testimony from an analyst with the Sunset Commission indicated that pay was not a reason staff leave their jobs, and that the stressful work environment and management are main factors driving up turnover rates. Agency administrators also testified that low pay was not a significant factor leading to staff turnover. However, the Chair of the Committee, Rep. Dawnna Dukes, brought up that Texas’ pay in FPS is 11% lower than states bordering Texas, and the need for Legislators to prioritize better pay.

TSEU members Michelle Copeland (Houston), Jim Funk (San Antonio), Susan Giles (Ft. Worth), and Mary Votaw (Houston) testified about the impact our pay has on staff, and made it very clear that pay, along with many other issues, causes dedicated staff to leave the agency. Members testified that experienced staff have little incentive to continue working for the agency because of the lack of a real career ladder for workers, and no career ladder at all for support staff. Recognizing & rewarding the hard work of staff through better pay is needed to ensure that staff can afford to work for the agency. Improvements to internal policy and practices are definitely needed, but without agency and legislative support for real improvements in pay, high turnover rates will continue to plague the agency. Other advocacy organizations also supported the need for better pay to reduce turnover rates.

The Select Committee on Child Protection will make recommendations related to their various interim charges, including turnover, to the 2015 Legislature. Whether Legislators act on those recommendations will be decided over the course of the next session, and union members will continue to make their voices at the Capitol.