There’s a bit of good news coming from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services: For the first time, more children are leaving the foster care system than entering it. This comes after many years of problems with kids’ foster care in Texas, and for the agency that manages it – ranging from huge caseloads and underpaid workers, to a lack of homes for children in emergency situations and even allegations of sexual abuse.
Bob Garrett is Austin bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News, and says there’s about 11,000 children in foster care at any given time. Twenty-thousand have left the system in the last year, and about one-third of those kids have been adopted. Others who left are in kinship placements – living with family members, but not necessarily adopted.
“I think there’s a lot of moving parts to these numbers, but I guess the good news that the state is touting is that the number being adopted is at a record: over 6,100 for last year,” Garrett says.
Garrett says the state has been pushing relatives to foster or adopt children who would otherwise be placed with strangers. More federal and state money is available to families who do so.
At the direction of the Legislature, the state has also moved aggressively to privatize foster care services in an attempt to alleviate bed shortages.
“The Legislature is pursuing a hyper-privatization model called ‘community-based care’ that puts a private contractor … in charge of a region, and they, rather than the state, are in charge of building up the capacity, signing contracts and developing foster homes,” Garrett says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.