The Texas foster care system serves more than 30,000 children and is at risk of collapsing. On a regular basis, hundreds of children don’t have foster care, and safe care and shelter are not always guaranteed.
Many factors have led to this crisis.
Since 2011, the Texas foster care system has been the subject of a lawsuit, alleging violations of children’s rights. U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack ruled that Texas had, in fact, been historically violating the rights of children in foster care by subjecting them to abuse, overmedication and repeated placements.
The system needed reform, and although her ruling was well-intentioned, many unintended consequences have resulted from Judge Jack’s orders, including:
- Increased citations for infractions including minor issues.
- Increased costs, with the expectation that the state will continue to pick up the ever-increasing tab.
- Shifting the attention of foster care providers to compliance over quality care.
In addition, several poor-quality providers were rightfully shut down. But that also means we are also losing many of the stronger foster care programs that were limited to begin with.
At the same time, the Texas Legislature is moving ahead with community-based foster care, in which the state pays private community organizations to manage foster care instead of the state. These organizations, however, will likely not receive enough reimbursement to cover the costs of caring for children in a safe, comfortable environment. We are exploring alternate strategies if this model is not successful.
- The shift to community-based care began in 2017. Private foster care providers are now empowered to be innovative and flexible in pursuing solutions that work best for the children and families in their own communities. With flexibility comes greater responsibility and accountability for providers to improve the safety and well-being for children in their care.
- Removing children from their homes, even when abuse occurs, is a traumatic event for them. Often, foster care placements with relatives or close family friends can lessen this trauma. Relative or “kinship” placements provide significant capacity to accommodate children in foster care, making up approximately 40 percent of placements for children in care.
Texas by the Numbers
The number of Texas foster children placed in unlicensed facilities, such as motels, churches and offices.
Average number of children in the foster care system at any given time.
2 out of 5
Children in foster care who are ages 1-5.
TexProtects’ Strategic Priorities
Increase transparency and accessibility of current data.
Develop a performance management system that accurately reflects desired outcomes for children and families.
Create appropriate benchmarks for assessment of progress, failures, and success of the child protection system.
Empower robust partnerships between state agencies and public, private, faith-based, and community organizations.
The TexProtects Impact
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