Correct and accessible data is imperative for decision-making necessary to better care for Texas’ children.

Jointly published by Texas 2036 and the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, the Modernizing Texas’ Child Welfare IT System report dives in on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ outdated IMPACT data system that further impedes caseworkers’ ability to review important electronic case file information.

IMPACT does not currently have the functionality for uploading most documents, such as birth certificates, school records, legal documents, medical, dental, developmental and psychological evaluations nor the capacity to store these documents. It is time to move to a Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System, which is the new federal standard for child welfare systems.

History of IMPACT

Built in 1996 and based on 1993 guidelines, IMPACT is neither federally compliant nor serving the needs of the agency or vulnerable Texas children. Since 2011, the state has been involved in continuous federal litigation regarding its child welfare services in which our current system was found unconstitutional.

Texas is one of four states that, as of 2022, has not declared an intent to move to a Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System.

Proposed Action

Include in the base budget a placeholder rider and budgetary amount to fund a comprehensive overhaul of the Department of Family and Protective Services case management system. Consider appropriating these funds either directly to DFPS or to the Technology Improvement and Modernization Fund, created under HB 4018 (87-R), for future action by the Joint Oversight Committee on Investment in Information Technology Improvement.

A Needed Investment

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite continual investment — $80 million for modernization efforts since 2015 — the existing data system for the Department of Family and Protective Services does not meet federal requirements nor the basic needs of the workers who use it.
  • Creating a new system will be expensive but will largely consist of one-time costs and could ultimately save the state money. Funding could come from general revenue, unused federal funds or the newly created Technology Improvement and Modernization Fund.
  • Because a complete overhaul of the system takes time and money, a modular approach is therefore recommended.