F. Trauma Work in Texas

1. Reports

Trauma-Informed Care Final Report, The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas

Meeting the Needs of High Needs Children in the Texas Child Welfare System, November 2015[110]

Understanding Trauma-Informed Care in the Texas Child Welfare System, Data and Recommendations from the Field, October 2015[111]

Respecting the Needs of Children and Youth in Texas Foster Care: Acknowledging Trauma and Promoting Positive Mental Health throughout the System, December 2014 [112]

2. Legislation

In 2011, the Texas Family Code was amended to require DFPS to include training in trauma-informed programs and services in any training the department provides to foster parents, adoptive parents, kinship caregivers, department caseworkers, and department supervisors. Tex. Fam. Code § 264.015.

DFPS Trauma-Informed Practice Workgroup was formed to look at:

•   Training;

•   Assessment and screening;

•   Kinship caregiver support; and

•   Secondary traumatic stress for direct care staff.

DFPS caseworkers are required to complete:

•   An initial, in-person training on trauma-informed care during their basic skills development training; and

•   An annual refresher course online.

Residential Child Care Contract (RCCC) Requirements

•   As of September 1, 2015, DFPS required all caregivers and employees who are subject to RCCC for direct care to complete:

◦   at least eight hours of trauma-informed care training prior to being the only caregiver responsible for children.

◦   at least two hours of trauma-informed care annually, and contractors may select their own curriculum/model for the annual refresher training.

Changes to the Family Code in 2013 required trauma-informed care training for certain staff of county and state juvenile facilities, including probation officers, supervision officers, correctional officers, parole officers and court-supervised community-based program personnel. Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 221.002(c-1).

Since 2015, DFPS is required to institute a comprehensive psychosocial assessment tool to assess all children who enter the foster care system within 45 days. The tool must include a trauma assessment and an interview with at least one individual who knows the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.012.

The Children’s Commission, in partnership with Texas CASA and the Shield Ayers Foundation, created a one-hour training to help introduce trauma-informed care to Attorneys ad Litem, Guardians ad Litem and CASA volunteers. The presentation includes strategies for advocating for children in courtrooms, schools, and placements to meet each child’s unique needs. Other topics include how trauma influences a child’s ability to communicate about the case and how to appropriately respond to a child’s trauma-related behaviors. Video: Trauma-Informed Advocacy for Children and Youth in Foster.

3. Statewide Initiatives

The Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care

In July 2017, the Children’s Commission launched the Statewide Collaborative on Trauma Informed Care (SCTIC), which aims to elevate trauma-informed policy in the Texas child welfare system by creating a statewide strategy to support system reform, organizational leadership, cross-systems collaboration, and community-led efforts with data-informed initiatives to develop champions, consensus, and funding. SCTIC began with a planning group with the Children’s Commission, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI), Texas CASA, and the Department of Family and Protective Services and has created workgroups to carry out its mission.

Children’s Advocacy Centers’ (CACs) Practice Model

In 2013, the Texas Legislature raised the standard for mental health services in CACs, requiring that all mental health services be trauma-focused and evidence-based. Additionally, mental health services must be provided by professionals who have a master’s degree and are licensed, or who are students in an accredited graduate program and supervised by a licensed mental health professional.

Texas Children Recovering from Trauma (TCRFT)

In 2012, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) was awarded a 4-year cooperative grant from the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative of SAMHSA. This initiative focused on transforming the existing children's mental health services in Texas into trauma-informed care services. The target population of this grant was children and youth ages 3 to 17 that have been exposed to or witnessed trauma or are children of military families. . A final report on the grant was issued in December 2016; Texas Children Recovering From Trauma Final Project Report: A trauma-informed care transformation pilot under the Texas Department of State Health Services.[113]

Trauma-Informed Care Specialty Network

Created by STAR Health, it allows its providers to list the training on trauma that they have pursued and helps identify providers who have been trained in trauma-informed care in the STAR Health network for caseworkers, caregivers, and others in the child welfare community. STAR Health also offers TIC trainings to CPA, kinship families, RTC staff, and Emergency Shelter staff.

The National Quality Improvement Center’s Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) awarded grant funds to Texas to study TIC practice. Pathways to Permanence, training for active caregivers, was selected and will be randomly given to groups of caregivers for children whose parents’ had their parental rights terminated; or children who have been in care for at least two years with no or partial rights terminated.

4. Community-Level Initiatives

The Travis County Collaborative for Children (TCCC)

Led by Texas Christian University’s (TCU) Institute of Child Development (ICD), the TCCC intended to bring system-wide changes to the way foster children in Travis County are cared for during and after their time in state custody. TCCC's ultimate goal is to accelerate healing and speed to permanency for children in foster care utilizing ICD's evidence-based Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) principles and practices.

Mental Health Connection Trauma Implementation Team

In Tarrant County, originally formed in 2011 to bring Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to the community. The Mental Health Connection launched a public awareness campaign in May 2013 called "Recognize Trauma." The campaign included movie ads, bus ads and billboards, in addition to brochures, posters and wallet cards.

The Trauma-Informed Care Consortium of Central Texas (TICC)

Established in 2013 by St. David's Foundation and Austin Child Guidance Center, the TICC brings together professional organizations quarterly to network, share information, and coordinate trainings for mental health clinicians, school personnel, medical /nursing professionals, law enforcement, and juvenile justice professionals.