Friday, June 27, 2008

The Official News Release


Albert Hawkins
Executive Commissioner

Date: June 27, 2008
Contact: Stephanie Goodman, 512-424-6951

Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner to Retire

AUSTIN – Carey Cockerell, commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, will retire on Aug. 31 after overseeing a reform effort that led to dramatic declines in caseloads, an increase in adoptions, and improvements in training and technology for caseworkers.

“For many years, Commissioner Cockerell has dedicated himself to protecting those who cannot protect themselves,” Gov. Rick Perry said. “At a time when there were reports of cases being closed too quickly and children and the elderly being left in dangerous conditions, Carey helped our state refocus protective services to its vital mission ― protecting Texas’ most vulnerable. I thank him for his tireless service and effective leadership, and wish him well in his future ventures.”

Cockerell joined the agency in January 2005, just months after Gov. Perry had issued executive orders directing review and reform of the state’s protective services programs. During the 2005 legislative session, state lawmakers approved a $248 million Child Protective Services reform plan to add 2,500 caseworkers and support staff, strengthen management of the program and improve caseworker training. The Legislature also approved additional staff and resources for Adult Protective Services.

“Carey took on one of the most difficult jobs in state government and achieved significant improvements in just a few short years,” said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins. “His thorough and thoughtful approach made real reform possible, and he quickly earned the respect of staff and caregivers across the state as a leader deeply committed to protecting children and vulnerable adults.”

Under Cockerell’s leadership:

  • Child Protective Services began an aggressive hiring effort to fill new positions and reduced investigation caseloads by 41 percent, from a daily average of 43.2 cases per worker in fiscal year 2005 to 25.3 cases in 2007.
  • The number of residential child care inspections almost doubled, going from 4,590 inspections in 2005 to 8,839 inspections in 2007.
  • With the addition of more than 200 new staff, Adult Protective Services caseloads fell 31 percent, from a daily average of 52 cases in 2005 to 36 in 2007.
  • Adoptions of children in the Child Protective Services system increased 27 percent.

“I’m proud of the improvements we made in our programs, but I’m even prouder of the thousands of caseworkers and other staff who made it all possible,” Cockerell said. “They really came together and supported the rebuilding of the agency into one that was stronger and better equipped to protect Texans.”

Cockerell said he’s been thinking about retirement since late last year.

“I’ll soon be a grandfather, and I’m looking forward to a lot of quality time with my family after four decades of working in state and local programs.”

Before joining the Department of Family and Protective Services, Cockerell was director of Juvenile Services for Tarrant County. He served in that role from 1984 through 2004, and he pioneered the first Texas youth advocacy program using paid mentors to work with youth. He also established an education program for expelled middle school students that became a statewide model for mandated juvenile justice alternative education programs.

Hawkins said the selection process for a new Department of Family and Protective Services commissioner will begin quickly.

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