Texas Council on Family Violence

Texas Council on Family Violence is the non-profit coalition in Texas dedicated solely to creating safer communities and freedom from  family violence. With a statewide reach and direct local impact, TCFV shapesPhoto of TCFV team members public policy, equips service providers with essential tools, and initiates strategic prevention efforts. Through the Growing Safe grant, TCFV focused specific efforts on supporting survivors of family
violence (FV) and their children who were involved in Texas’ child welfare system – known as Child Protective Investigations (CPI)/Child Protective Services (CPS). TCFV equipped ten FV Programs across Texas with the best practices, training, technical assistance, mentorship, and financial support needed to create a unique position, the Enhanced CPS Liaison (ECL),  that focused directly on serving this underserved population. The ECL helped survivors navigate the CPI/CPS System requirements, assisted in coordination with CPS to improve survivor safety, promoted policies and practices which reflected awareness of the dynamics of family violence, and provided resources to promote child resiliency.

From our 2019 Evaluations of the survivors who received support from the Enhanced CPS Liaison (ECL)

  • 76.2%  reported that their ECL helped them understanding of what to expect during their CPS case.
  • 75.9% reported that their ECL helped them communicate with their CPS worker about the ways that they protect their child(ren)
  • 79% reported that their ECL helped them to be better able to complete their CPS service plan.

Quotes from survivors who received this support:

“[My ECL] has helped me get in touch with my CPS worker and better understand what is happening in my case. She was a great help and I wouldn’t know what I would do without her.”

“My CPS liaison has helped me get in contact with my CPS worker and explained to her all that I accomplished.”

Clients commonly described receiving emotional support from the Enhanced CPS Liaison (ECL). Clients emphasize that the ECL supported them to feel confident during a difficult time and made the CPS process more manageable:

“She simplifies things so they aren’t so scary.”

“I had no clue what was to be expected of me, especially not knowing I would end up in a situation like this. However, [the ECL] has gone through the CPS process with such patience that it made my worries go away.”

“She has helped me understand the concerns my caseworker has, and has helped me decide what is truly best overall for the safety of my children. A true blessing, she has been in this troubling time.”

 (statistics and quotes were taken directly used from the 2019 Growing Safe evaluation conducted by The Child and Family Research Partnership)

The Growing SAFE Grant allowed Texas ECLs to serve over 1500 survivors who were involved with the child welfare system.

TCFV El Paso Group Photo

Providing support to under-resourced and/or culturally specific communities who are disproportionality involved in the child welfare system was the final key part to the Growing Safe program. TCFV partnered with four communities, or agencies, who work in various capacities, through their work, with FV survivor parents and their children. We call these programs ‘incubator’ programs as the goals were to provide support and resources and connections while learning directly from the community or program about the innovative approaches they use in serving FV survivor families involved in the child welfare system. Learning specific ways in which these families are impacted by the family violence and child welfare systems allows TCFV to better support our BIPOC communities on the local and state level by bringing their voices to the table and support equity and safety, including felt safety, when they are involved in systems that were built to best serve white communities while creating additional trauma and disproportionally negatively impacting communities of color.

TCFV continues to work towards increasing their understanding, support and creating change to support survivors and their families within our Texas BIPOC Communities. In addition to our work with culturally specific programs Shellie Ryan, the Child Welfare Policy Manager/Project Lead, also holds an active role in a National Cohort, Women Transforming Families, as well as a State/Local Cohort Texas Working at the Intersection for Safe Families (TWAIS). Women Transforming Families and TWAIS focus on rising to end violence, oppression, and the legacy of trauma in the child welfare and domestic violence systems.

At the statewide level, to address the challenges that these survivors and their children face when involved in the child welfare system, TCFV  supported CPI/CPS and FV programs through training and development of internal policies and practices for working with FV survivors and their children. This included the development of Survivor’s Rights cards in English and Spanish, as well as a dedicated section of our TCFV website specifically for DV advocates and CPS professionals to equip them with knowledge, resources, and tools to effectively navigate the complex issues that are present at this intersection.

TCFV continues to bring FV expertise and to support non-abusing parents in promoting child safety and resiliency through our participation in state-level collaborations. These include the Texas Family Violence Interagency Collaboration (TFVIC), the Child Protection Round Table (CPRT) and the The Supreme Court Children’s Commission. These collaborations have produced significant changes in statewide policy as well as local child welfare and domestic violence system practices across the state. Prior to the Growing Safe project, and in collaboration with TFVIC and other Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) staff, the Texas DFPS Investigations Disposition Guidelines Domestic Violence Resource Guide and the Texas DFPS Domestic Violence Resource Guide were created. Throughout the Growing Safe grant, these guides were utilized to create changes in CPI/CPS practices. In addition, TCFV’s participation in the CPRT led to a set of guiding principles which consider the role of the protective parent/survivor parent, and which address some of the impacts that disproportionality within the Texas child welfare system have on families in our Black, Indigenous, families of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Top 5 Lessons Learned from the Growing Safe Grant Implementation:

1.  Relationship building between child welfare (caseworkers/supervisors) and family violence (advocates/agencies) is VITAL to support the safety of survivors and their children.

2. Regardless of DFPS statewide policies, the PRACTICES of Caseworkers, Supervisors, and Leadership across Texas differ both at the individual and community level.

3. To best serve some of the most vulnerable survivors and their children, family violence agencies and systems must talk about elevating the needs of survivors and their children who are involved in the child welfare system within their own agencies.

4. A person’s privilege, lived experience, positional power, and individual values impact the decisions they make that increase or decrease the safety of a survivor parent and their child(ren), including the child(ren)’s ability to remain with their protective parent.

5. Always include and elevate the voice of the survivor when making decisions that impact their safety and the safety of their children.

The Family Violence programs who received ECL funding and support include:

Mujeres Unidas/Women Together (McAllen, TX)

Friendship of Women (Brownsville, TX)

Family Crisis Center (Harlingen, TX)

Family Violence Prevention Services (San Antonio, TX)

Noah Project (Abilene, TX)

Denton County Friends of Family (Denton, TX)

Hill Country Crisis Council (Kerrville, TX)

Houston Area Women’s Center (Houston, TX)

Wintergarden Women’s Shelter (Carrizo Springs, TX)

Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation (culturally specific FV program in Plano, TX)

The ‘Incubator’ Communities/Programs who received funding and support include:

Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (Indigenous tribe in Eagle Pass, TX)

Ysleta del sur Pueblo (Indigenous tribe in El Paso, TX)

People’s Community Clinic (non-profit primary health care facility in Austin, TX)

Shifa Women’s Center (serving South Asian and other immigrant survivors in Houston, TX)

For more information contact:

Shellie Ryan, sryan@tcfv.org or Barbra Grimmer, bgrimmer@tcfv.org , the Child Welfare Policy Team at TCFV

TCFV Project Picture of a Summit Ballroom with Tables