foster care

Becky Fogel/Texas Standard

This story is part of a Texas Standard series examining Texas foster care. It looks at who’s involved and affected by what has been deemed a “broken” system. Original story here.

Christian Enriquez entered the Texas Foster Care system when he was a teenager and says he experienced its dysfunction first hand. He bounced from emergency shelters to Residential Treatment Facilities (RTCs) – a type of live-in group therapy home – and foster homes. Now he lives at LifeWorks, a non-profit organization in Austin that advocates for and provides housing to youth aging out of the foster care system.

aaron gilson/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This story is part of a Texas Station Collaborative series examining Texas foster care. It looks at who's involved and affected by what has been deemed a "broken" system. 

 

Early into his tenure as governor, Greg Abbott said he was committed to overhauling the state’s struggling Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees the foster care system. He was particularly focused on reducing child deaths as a result of abuse and neglect. From 2010 to 2014, 144 children died despite the fact that CPS was investigating claims of abuse in those cases. Back in 2015, Abbott’s office committed an extra $40 million to child welfare services.

SAM Nasim/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas is currently under a federal court order to fix its foster care system after allegations of child deaths in the system, high caseworker turnover, system mismanagement and a host of other problems. Foster care in Texas has been declared so dangerous it’s unconstitutional.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

A Texas legislative panel is recommending $75.3 million in emergency funding for the Department of Family and Protective Services to start fixing the state's dysfunctional foster care system, but agency Commissioner Hank Whitman won't get everything he requested.

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

Daniel Hernandez, an investigator for the state’s Child Protective Services agency, left his South Austin home at dawn on a recent Thursday holding a stack of folders. Their contents detailed troubles facing the children and families Hernandez was scheduled to check on that day: a starving infant, parents using drugs in front of a child and a teenager's suicide attempt.

Pixabay (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

It's been a turbulent year for the state's Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). First there was the December court order by a federal judge in Corpus Christi – a sweeping and scathing order condemning what she called a "broken" foster care system, declaring it in violation of the Constitution and demanding a complete overhaul with a special master to be appointed to recommend fixes.

Courtesy Kristopher Sharp

From Texas Standard:

As a child, Kristopher Sharp never knew what love was.

"I can tell you about the first time I felt I was loved," Sharp says. "This is after I aged out of the foster care system."

Sharp was 18 when he aged out. He was living in Houston. With no job and no skills, he soon became homeless.

 


Flickr/Samuel Ramkalawan (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The state's track record for its Child Protective Services is a tumultuous one. A couple of months ago, a series of stories were circulating around a massive federal lawsuit filed against the state's Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees foster care, adoption and daycare licensing in Texas.

From the Texas Tribune

A federal judge ruled Thursday that Texas has violated foster children's constitutional rights to be free from an unreasonable risk of harm, saying that children "often age out of care more damaged than when they entered." 


Image via Texas Tribune/Michael Stravato

From Texas Standard:

Jasmine Johnson, a 20-year-old expectant mother, gave birth in January. She didn't just bring home a baby girl after her visit to the hospital – she also brought home a $1,500 medical bill she couldn’t afford.


Charlotte Carpenter

Back-to-school shopping is not for the faint of heart.

To the uninitiated, it may seem like total madness.

But, really, it's family time: parents read school lists out loud while children run around in search of items. It's also a time children in foster care rarely experience, but, for the first time, a non-profit is trying to provide children in foster care with a similar experience.

Filipa Rodriques/KUT News

In Texas, more than 250,000 children are living with grandparents or other volunteer caregivers, but a new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities suggests that many of them are not up to the task financially and could use more support and guidance.

Todd Wiseman/Karolina Michalak/Felipe Hadler

The private contractor leading the state’s foster care redesign initiative has voluntarily terminated its contract with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Providence Service Corporation of Texas has notified DFPS of its intention to terminate the contract through which it was caring for 1,100 foster children in 60 counties in North and West Texas as part of the state’s foster care redesign initiative. An increased reliance on private contractors is pivotal to the department's redesign initiative to streamline the foster care placement process and keep children closer to home.

David Garzon

Texas lawmakers have already convened several times this year to discuss rampant – and persistent -- problems in the state’s foster care system. On Thursday, another hearing at the Capitol took place to look into what can be changed.

KUT News

The second day of the Sunset Advisory Commission’s public meetings at the Capitol is underway.

Today, the public can comment on recommendations made in recent commission staff reports on how to fix major flaws at state agencies, including the Department of Family Protective Services. A June report [click here for PDF] of the Sunset Advisory Commission had about 100 pages of recommendations for reforming the department.

Sunset staff member and project manager Amy Tripp, who worked on the report, told lawmakers Tuesday that caseworkers complain about the punitive work environment.

Liang Shi for KUT

President Obama recently called for millions in new spending aimed at reducing the number of foster care children being prescribed psychotropic medications.

In Texas, the percentage of children on these medications has been dropping in recent years, but concerns remain.

Joy Diaz for KUT

This Thursday is Adoption Day, and about 6,500 children are waiting to be adopted in the Texas Foster care program. Last year, more than 1,000 didn’t find a home.

But a group of six Killeen siblings, the dream of staying together as a family — an unlikely prospect for many siblings in foster care — became a reality when Hipólito and Carmen Velez entered their lives.

DFPS

The state’s child welfare agency is launching a new program aimed at improving the outcomes of children in foster care in Texas. The project, called Foster Care Redesign, has been in the works for years. 

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Heading to college is confusing under the best of circumstances. But for many young people aging out of foster care, the challenges can be almost impossible to overcome.

Some schools in Texas host programs each year aimed at trying to help foster kids make the transition.

Lizzie Chen, KUT News

Foster care children 16 and older could refuse psychotropic medication under a bill signed into law today by Gov. Rick Perry that more closely monitors the administration of those drugs to foster kids.

Another measure signed into law today will give court-appointed special advocates of foster kids online access to their case information.

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