AUSTIN – An overwhelming approval of Texas House Bills 4 and 5 showed the commitment Texas House members, including Rep. John Wray, have made to correct issues with Child Protective Services. Both bills were passed Thursday.

House Bill 4 provides additional monetary assistance for family members who care for a child that has been removed from his or her home, while House Bill 5 makes the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) a standalone agency with a commissioner appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

"Protecting children from abuse is one of the most basic and important responsibilities of our communities and government," states a release issued by the office of Rep. Wray, whose district includes Ellis County. "The House is focused on offering an improved vision of foster care, one that pushes for systematic changes and targeted funding to improve outcomes."

HOUSE BILL 4

Backed by data that demonstrates children placed with caregivers who are relatives receive more stability and permanency in their lives than children who are placed in nonrelative Foster Care, House Bill 4 is aimed at strengthening kinship care.

The Bill provides additional monetary assistance for Kinship Care placements based on a family’s need. Additionally, HB 4 creates an offense for those who knowingly make a false statement that generates a situation whereby a relative takes custody of a child solely to access state funds.

Rep. Wray is in his second term as Texas State Representative of House District 10, which encompasses Ellis County and part of Henderson County. He serves as a member on the Committees of Transportation, Homeland Security and Public Safety, and Rules and Resolutions.

HOUSE BILL 5

HB 5 makes DFPS a stand-alone agency that would report to the Governor, consolidate investigations of child abuse and neglect under Child Protective Services and maintain many consolidated administrative support functions in the Health and Human Services Commission.

According to the release by Wray, this change will streamline decision-making and accountability at DFPS to help provide the best outcomes for children. Further, it will clarify leadership and ensure those agency policies are best suited to the unique services that DFPS performs to protect vulnerable adults and children.

Finally, HB 5 aims to make sure that there is a consistent investigation into child abuse and neglect across the state to keep children safe in care.

"Improving Texas' child protection capabilities is the House's top priority this session," the release states. "Taken together, the passage of HB 4 and HB 5 constitutes the first steps toward improving child protection in Texas and providing the best quality of life possible for children who need it most.

"As the legislature continues to work to protect children throughout the 85th Legislative Session, we are confident that providing additional aid to families and caregivers and reforming the state agency tasked with offering support services will dramatically improve our state foster care system and protect our children."