Texas Department of Family and Protective Services will open a new office this fall at 3103 Summerhill Road in Texarkana.
It will be a processing center for the department's Statewide Intake, those who answer calls about abuse, neglect and exploitation and start cases for Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services and Child Care Licensing.
"We have five to six people coming from Austin to help get the center started," said Ric Zimmerman, associate commissioner for the department. " but by the end of 2018, we expect to have 40 staff (members) hired out of Texarkana with the ability to operate 24 hours a day."
SWI operates around the clock all year, and so will the new center in Texarkana.
According to Zimmerman, SWI is expanding to Texarkana for two reasons: continuity of operations and recruiting.
"SWI is mission critical for the Department of Family and Protective Services and must operate at all times, including through inclement weather and disasters," Zimmerman said. "There are three power grids in the U.S.: Eastern, Western and Texas. Our Austin location is on the Texas grid. Texarkana is on the Eastern grid. Texarkana gives us redundancy, improving our continuity of operations."
The move also gives SWI access to job-seekers in the local labor market.
"We are recruiting," Zimmerman said. "SWI currently has 450 employees. We are almost always hiring and training new staff. At times, recruiting only in the Austin area is difficult. Texarkana gives us an opportunity to recruit skilled, caring staff in a new area."
SWI handles cases of child abuse and neglect, as well as that of the elderly or adults with disabilities living at home. This includes abuse of children in child-care facilities or treatment centers and abuse of adults or children who live in state facilities or who are being helped by programs for people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities.
Texas law says anyone who thinks an adult 65 or older or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected or exploited must report it to DFPS.
To report abuse, call 1-800-252-5400 or visit txabusehotline.org. Use the Texas Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1 or 1-800-735-2989 (voice or TTY) and tell the relay agent you need to call the Texas Abuse Hotline.