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4000 Donations and Gifts

FBCE August 2022

What is a Donation?

A donation is a contribution by an external entity of something of value, such as money or in-kind goods and services, to DFPS or to a community partner on behalf of DFPS clients.

The term does not include funding received from a federal, state, private, or non-profit organization grant for which the agency has submitted a formal written application and is subject to an agreement between the recipient and the donor relating to the use of the grant.

Note: Definition partially borrowed from HHSC rules (26 TAC §901.2).

4100 Accepting Donations

FBCE August 2022

Authority to Accept Donations

Texas law allows DFPS to accept a gift or grant from a public or private source to perform any of the department’s powers or duties.

Texas Human Resources Code §40.057

DFPS must follow the guidelines set forth in Appendix I: Donations Procedures when accepting donations, including guidance on how to temporarily store donated items or temporarily hold monetary donations that are intended for an outside party or client.

To minimize the risk of misuse of donations and accounting paperwork for DFPS, an employee should use a community partner agency, such as a child welfare board and APS board, to collect and distribute donations to clients if one is available.

Monetary Donations

Monetary donations require the highest level of accountability. When handling monetary donations, follow the tracking procedures in Appendix I: Donations Procedures.

Any money donated directly to DFPS, or in DFPS’s name, must be deposited in the Texas State Treasury to ensure all money received and spent is recorded at the Texas Comptroller’s Office. Receiving cash donations of $500 or greater involve additional steps for approval by DFPS management. See Texas Government Code §575.002.

Using community partners to accept cash donations for the benefit of programs and clients is preferable.

If a partner is not immediately available, DFPS can serve as a go-between in the transfer of funds, but DFPS does not assume ownership of the donated funds.

In-Kind (Non-Monetary) Donations

DFPS is permitted to accept in-kind donations of goods or services on its own behalf, or on behalf of DFPS clients or programs. A DFPS employee must connect donated items or services to activities, events, or situations where a client or group of clients will directly benefit in accordance with any stated wishes of the donor. Examples of acceptable donations and activities include:

  • Child abuse prevention calendars.
  • Items for emergency resource rooms.
  • Fan drives.
  • Prom or job fair clothing collections.
  • Toys for a parent-child visitation room.
  • Backpack or school supply drives.
  • Treats for caregiver support meetings.
  • Holiday or graduation events for youth.

If items cannot be matched immediately to a client or group of clients, or the donor requests the item stay with DFPS (for example, a painting for a local APS office lobby), the donations must be accounted for and reconciled according to Appendix I: Donations Procedures.

A DFPS employee must send a Form 0300 In-Kind Donation Thank You Letter to the donor acknowledging receipt of the contribution. The letter should not include any reference to the value of the item. This is the responsibility of the donor.

Limitation on Accepting Donations

A DFPS employee must never accept donations, including unsolicited donations, from any organization with which DFPS currently contracts or does business. If an organization with which DFPS contracts or does business wish to donate to DFPS clients, the organization must donate to the client or the service provider that directly serves the client.

Exceptions: In most cases, promotional or commemorative items of minimal value such as coffee mugs, caps, and keys rings are exempt from consideration as a gift or donation if the following are true:

  • Such items are unsolicited.
  • Items are not accepted in exchange for any action or inaction on the part of the employee.

4200 Soliciting Donations

FBCE August 2022

Authority to Solicit Donations

Texas law allows DFPS to ask for and receive grants or money from either private or public sources to implement child welfare services authorized by Chapter 264 of the Family Code. Chapter 264 services include foster care, community-based care, child and family services, services to at-risk youth, children’s advocacy centers, Court Appointed Special Advocate program, relative and other designated caregiver placement program, parental child safety placements, and others.

Texas Family Code §264.612

Limitation on Solicitating donations

Contractors, Vendors, and Other Agencies with Which DFPS does Business

Soliciting donations is treated differently than accepting donations and is a more restricted activity. Soliciting means asking a business or community organization to give money, goods, or services to DFPS or its clients for a specific purpose. A DFPS employee soliciting contributions may create an appearance of impropriety or undue pressure on the other organization, if DFPS contracts or does business with that organization. Donations should not be solicited from such entities.

Other Public or Private Sources

Even when soliciting from sources who do not do business with DFPS, an employee must not ask for donations to benefit DFPS or its employees. For example, an employee may not solicit a donation of furniture to decorate or furnish a DFPS office or solicit funds to provide food for a staff meeting. Although Texas Family Code §264.612 allows DFPS to solicit and receive money or grants, it is DFPS policy that an agency employee generally should not solicit cash donations for any purpose.

Allowable Uses

A DFPS employee may solicit donations only if it meets either of the following criteria:

  • The item or service would directly benefit a DFPS client or group of clients.
  • The item or service would contribute directly to an event or activity organized to support children, adults or families participating in agency programs, or who are being recruited to participate, such as volunteers or prospective caregivers.

Examples: A visitation room needs refurbishing. A DFPS employee may not solicit funds, goods, or services to refurbish the room, as DFPS would be the recipient of the donation (even though DFPS clients would benefit from the improvements). If, however, an external partner or community member offers to donate funds, goods or services to refurbish a room, a DFPS employee may accept such an offer. The same would hold true if an external partner or entity offered to donate items such as a computer or office furniture.

An employee also should consult DFPS operating policies regarding DFPS Standards of Ethical Conduct, which outlines when a state employee may or may not accept a gift or benefit from an outside agency.

4300 Employee Ethics

FBCE August 2022

An employee who works in areas where he or she may interact with contractors or providers must be especially careful to ensure nothing he or she does creates the appearance of impropriety or a conflict of interest that would violate any of the following Standards of Ethical Conduct that govern DFPS employees:

  • An employee must act impartially and not give inappropriate preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.
  • An employee must not accept or request any gift, favor, or service that might be reasonably expected to influence or appear to influence the employee in the discharge of official duties. This includes anything the employee knows or should know is being offered with the intent to influence the employee’s or the agency’s official actions.
  • An employee must not accept other employment or engage in a business or professional activity that the employee might reasonably expect would require or encourage him or her to disclose confidential information acquired because of his or her official position.
  • An employee must not intentionally or knowingly request, accept, or agree to accept any benefit for having exercised the employee’s official powers or performed the employee’s official duties in favor of another.
  • An employee must avoid any conduct that creates the appearance that he or she is violating a law or the ethical standards in this policy. Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that a law or these standards have been violated must be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.

4400 Use of Retail or Other Gift Cards

FBCE August 2022

At times, community boards, child welfare boards, APS boards and other community organizations purchase retail or other gift cards with the intent of providing needed goods and services to DFPS clients. Access to these flexible resources carries a serious fiduciary responsibility.

The procedures for use of gift cards by a DFPS employee exist to protect both partners’ assets and DFPS employees. An employee who does not fully comply with these procedures may be prohibited from using donated gift cards and may be subject to disciplinary action.

4410 Access to Gift Cards

FBCE August 2022

Gift cards are the property of the purchasing organization, and DFPS employees are accountable to the organization for the proper use of the cards.

Gift cards must be secured in a locked cabinet, with access controlled by the community organization. In the case of unstaffed resource rooms, the organization or partner may work with the FBCE designated employee and the regional or district director to identify an acceptable plan for supervised access to the secured cards in that location.

Because these cards are like cash, an employee generally should not accept gift cards directly from people or organizations. Donors should be referred to the partner organization. If a partner isn’t available, the donation must be directed to a supervisor who ensures the gift card is logged according to the DFPS donations policy (see Appendix I: Donations Procedures).

4500 Securing Meeting Space

FBCE August 2022

A DFPS employee cannot solicit the donation of meeting space or a waiver of usual fees. DFPS normally provides meeting space for agency initiatives or programs, as a business process.

Because many DFPS programs (such as Family Group Decision-Making) or stakeholder initiatives (such as Special Task Units) require specific types of meeting rooms, the following suggestions may help an employee comply with policy while meeting the goals of improved services for clients:

  • Meeting space that is generally made available free of charge (whether to non-profits or the public at large) is not considered a donation. An employee should identify and maintain a list of free-of-charge meeting facilities in his or her community.
  • If a client’s family member belongs to an organization or church and membership entitles them to use of the meeting facilities without charge, this is not considered a donation. The family member makes arrangements with the organization.
  • If a meeting facility normally charges for meeting space, DFPS cannot solicit a waiver or reduction of fees. However, if an entity offers meeting space free of charge as its contribution toward strengthening families and protecting the vulnerable in its community, a DFPS employee can accept that offer.
  • A DFPS employee may not solicit or accept meeting space donations from contractors, vendors, or licensees.

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