Texas legislators champion many causes while in office, and we can’t say that we agree with all of them.
Some issues get so clouded by politics that it’s difficult to understand who, if anyone would benefit from reams of legislation filed during any given legislative session.
But one longtime state senator we know has continually worked for the good of a particularly vulnerable group of Texans, and we believe that the results can be supported by everyone, regardless of their party affiliation.
State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has long made children in the foster care system a legislative and budget priority, and she has already made it clear that she will continue her efforts during the current session.
Nelson represents Senate District 12, which includes parts of Denton and Tarrant counties, and last week she filed eight bills with the intent of better serving children in foster care and other programs connected to the Department of Family and Protective Services.
“I have made it a top priority this session to ensure all of our health and human services, including our foster care programs, are achieving results for the people they serve,” Nelson stated in a recent e-mail.
“I’ve been working on the issue of child protective services for years, but this legislative package has been developed over the past year and a half. Some [bills] reflect the interim report recommendations of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, which I chair.”
Nelson said her goal is to foster a transparent and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of children, and she is confident that the bills can be passed this session.
Sherri Gideon, executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Denton County, said all eight bills are good. She said two of the bills address CASA’s top concerns.
Senate Bill 424 would ensure that the psychotropic drug plan for foster youth is appropriate, necessary and monitored by creating a more transparent process. Gideon said CASA has been concerned about the number of children placed on medication without proper medical review.
SB 425 would require that the CASA volunteer, guardian and attorney are consulted prior to changing a child’s Child Protective Services placement, except in cases of emergency, to ensure that each placement decision is made with input from those child advocates.
Gideon said it’s difficult for a child to lose friends, switch schools and leave a familiar place. Hopefully, she said, the introduction of this bill will focus more attention on getting children into the right home based on their needs.
Legislators may continue to file bills until the March 8 filing deadline. To search legislation, visit the Texas Legislature online at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
Nelson was recently honored with the Champion for Texas Children award from Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children in recognition of her support for abused and neglected children in Texas.
She has been honored for her efforts before, but it is clear from her dedication and hard work through the years that her primary motivation is the welfare of the affected children, not awards and praise.
We applaud Nelson’s efforts and encourage her to continue the fight. Those who will benefit most from these bills — the children — may have little to no ability or opportunity to speak for themselves. They need a champion, and Nelson ably fills that role.