What It’s Like to Report on the Texas Foster Care System

To wrap up the KERA series Remaking Foster Care, we spoke with the reporter about putting the pieces together.

By Alain StephensMay 29, 2015 9:03 am| , ,

This week, we ran a series from KERA News called Remaking Foster Care, with stories about the children, biological parents, foster parents, and the problems facing the system today. KERA reporter Doualy Xaykaothao joins the Texas Standard to talk about the series.

On the difficulty of reporting these stories:

“With any topic that we venture into, the ability to empathize and try to understand what people are experiencing is key. A lot of times, when you’re listening to your interviewees, especially when you’re talking about a community that’s been traumatized – not just once, but repeatedly…there’s just so many unanswered questions.”

On how the foster care system in Texas compares:

“Texas, to be honest, is not unique in this way. Across the U.S. a lot of states are experiencing the same thing. There are not enough foster homes, there are not enough coordinated services. And a lot of the case workers are overburdened with too many caseloads.”

What stood out the most while reporting:

“What surprised me is the number of times foster kids would be moved in any given period. It’s already traumatizing when a child or children have to be removed from their homes. But then, to be moved, 10, 20, 30 different times…When you send a child across the state because services are only available, for example, in Houston, then it’s just a very jarring experience for them, and really just re-traumatizes them.

Listen to the full interview in the player above.