When the Department of Family and Protective Services removes children from their homes, the moves are supposed to be in the best interest of the children. However, the reality is that more problems often await the children due to the number of children in state custody versus the relatively limited number of adequate resources to effectively care for them.
Foster care in crisis
These problems are not new. They are, however, growing in the wrong direction. Due to its inability to house and care for foster children, the DFPS in Texas has had to explore non-traditional options. One of those is moving children out of state. Texas has done this to more than 100 children. These sites have been shown to provide substandard care and have active state violations.
Despite the financial sanctions it has garnered for taking such action, recommended reforms have not been sufficiently implemented. To date, the DFPS is still in violation of the constitutional rights of many of the children in its care.
There are many problems plaguing the system that, collectively, that makes a system of care dangerous for those who are supposed to be served by it. They include overloaded caseworkers, unlicensed placements such as offices and hotels, and negligent care of the residents. Although the DFPS has been held in contempt of court twice, more legal trouble is ahead if DFPS does not correct its systemic childcare problems. Nearly $50 million in federal dollars may not come back if the DFPS remains out of compliance with the government’s Family First program.
Is there hope for the future?
While the number of placements to other states decreased from 416 to 236 in 2021, the numbers tell a story of a system in crisis, and the state spends millions to do so. Advocates in family law and the foster system are eager to see meaningful reform.