Go In-Depth on Our Legislative Priorities: Investing in Education, Income and Health
This legislative session, Texas has a $32.7 billion budgetary surplus, which presents a unique opportunity to invest in Texas families. United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is asking legislators to prioritize budgetary increases to vital programs that support systemic improvements in education, income and health.
Two of our key budget requests are funding 211 and investing in child abuse prevention.
Background on 211
211, the Texas information and referral network, is a public-private partnership that connects Texans to local health and social service agencies. Despite having no significant funding increases over the last 14 years, 211 has experienced an overwhelming increase in call volume, often 30% to 40% above historical numbers. 211 Texas also struggles to keep up with increased operational costs and technological demands.
Other states have used 211 funding increases to broaden their community-based resource database, improve technology and utilize caller data to identify resource gaps. We are asking for a minimum $4.6 million/biennium increase in the base budget for 211. This would allow call centers to attract and retain quality staff, maintain operations, and enhance technology and communication.
Background on Child Abuse Prevention
Child abuse costs Texas billions annually in criminal justice, healthcare, social services, education and lost workforce productivity. However, child abuse prevention only accounts for 5% of child welfare spending statewide.
Home visiting is an evidence-based child welfare tool that brings social workers, nurses and child specialists to new and expecting mothers to promote healthy families and reduce the use of emergency care for mothers and babies. 98% of families participating in home visiting programs do not have a substantiated child abuse report within five years of receiving home visiting services. While home visitation is proven to prevent child maltreatment, only 3.8% of eligible families have access to these programs.
We are calling on Texas legislators to fully support the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ exceptional item No. 2 to “strengthen services for prevention services by $87.8M GR/$87.9M AF and 20 FTEs for the biennium” so an additional 15,000 to 20,000 families would be served each year by these valuable programs.