The Texas Adult Protective Services (APS) program began in the mid-1970s when Congress passed Title 20 of the Social Security Act. It required states to protect children, elder adults and adults with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In 1991, the 72nd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 7, which created the Texas Department Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS) on September1, 1992. That's when APS became a part of TDPRS.

Although the law didn't specify who was responsible for investigations in community mental health/mental retardation centers, the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (TDMHMR), TDPRS, the Texas Council on Community MHMR Centers, and advocates agreed that it should be staff independent of the centers. TDMHMR and TDPRS agreed that TDPRS would start conducting these investigations by July 1995.

In September 1993, the Texas Legislature made APS responsible for assuming guardianship of people with severe disabilities who aged out of CPS care.  In 1999, the Legislature provided the first specific funding for guardianship of APS clients.

In 2003, the Legislature passed House Bill 2292, which reorganized and consolidated health and human services. TDPRS was renamed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), which includes Child Protective Services (CPS), Adult Protective Services (APS), Child Care Licensing (CCL), and Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI).

In 2005, the 79th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 6, which instructed DFPS to improve the services it provides to children, families, the elderly, and adults with disabilities.  This law contained a variety of strategies to reform protective services such as giving caseworkers mobile tablet computers. By the end of fiscal year 2006, APS had implemented all of the 252 action items required under APS Reform and all of the mandates required in Senate Bill 6.

The Legislature also transferred the Guardianship Program from DFPS to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) on September 1, 2005. This reinforced that APS's primary role is to investigate and ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable adults in need of protection. An interagency steering committee was established to guarantee ongoing coordination between the two agencies. 

The Texas Legislature also transferred the responsibility for abuse, neglect, and exploitation (ANE) investigations in private intermediate care facilities for persons with intellectual disabilities (ICFs/ID) from DADS to DFPS, beginning June 1, 2010.  APS conducts these investigations in the same manner as in other institutional settings. 

The 84th Texas Legislature, through Senate Bill 200, consolidated (5) Health and Human Services Agencies under the Health and Human Services Commission, including The Department of Family and Protective Services, effective September 1, 2015.

The 85th Legislature, through House Bill 5 – September 1, 2017, made The Department of Family and Protective Services a standalone agency apart from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).  As a result of HB5 the Commissioner of DFPS reports directly to the governor.

*APS Provider Investigations remained under HHSC as set forth by the 84th Legislature.