State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) issued the following statement today:
“Today’s Department of Justice letter-of-findings is a sad confirmation of state government’s failure to protect its most vulnerable citizens at our state schools,” said Representative Coleman. “Low pay for primary care workers, a thirty four percent staff turnover rate, inadequate training, employment standards and oversight at state schools have led to these problems. The Texas Legislature needs to address these issues when we convene in January so residents of our state schools get the quality of care they deserve.”
The Legislative Study Group, a policy caucus of the Texas House which Representative Coleman chairs, held hearings in Corpus Christi, Dallas and Houston last year and issued a series of recommendations to improve the quality of care at state schools, which included:
I. Increase number of FTA while reducing turnover rates, insuring continuity of care for clients.
II. Increase pay for direct care workers to attract and maintain quality employees.
III. Training procedures and refresher courses should be reviewed and improved to ensure quality of care. More frequent training and refresher courses should be instituted.
IV. Minimum quality standards for employment must be raised in order to insure that state schools are safe and provide the best care possible.
V. More accountability and discipline must be enforced for allegations of abuse. The state should respond swiftly to allegations and investigate abuse. If the claims are found to be valid, steps should be taken immediately. To prevent conflicts of interest, it would be best to establish an independent authority outside of the HHSC enterprise to assist and oversee investigations of potential abuse.
VI. Better care should be taken to monitor and supervise interaction between clients and the population of individuals with violent or sexual criminal histories found incompetent to stand trial. If possible, a separate forensic facility should exist to maintain the population of those with sex offender status and violent crimes.
The full Legislative Study Group report on state schools can be found by clicking here.