News Roundup: Rebuilding The Foster Care System Begins With An Estimate Of Needs Around The State

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 22, 2018 8:34 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A new state report estimates what the demand for foster care placements will be in different areas of Texas in fiscal year 2019, which begins on September 1.

It’s the first step in helping communities identify whether they have enough foster homes to support that expected need. Kaysie Taccetta, the director of conservatorship services, with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) explains that different types of resources are not spread evenly throughout the state.

“We have pockets of the state that seem to have plentiful resources to serve not only the needs of the children that they have close to home, but that capacity is also being used by other parts of the state that doesn’t have services available to meet the child’s needs,” Taccetta says.

For the purposes of the state’s foster care system, Texas is broken up into a total of seventeen regions. And ideally, if a child is removed from their family, there’s enough resources in that region, be it foster parents, a residential treatment center, or an emergency shelter, to keep them close to home.

Taccetta explains that while the entire state needs more foster homes, certain areas are sorely lacking in this resource. That includes areas of West Texas such as San Angelo, Midland-Odessa, and parts of East Texas.

“The Longview/Tyler area, what we call Region 4, and then the region 11, the Corpus Christi, it’s a large area of the state, but Corpus Christi is probably the biggest population hub there – the need to increase foster parents in that area of the state is great,” Taccetta says.

The report also reveals that eight regions of the state have no emergency shelters. These are places kids can stay temporarily, in instances where DFPS is trying to place a large sibling group or vet a kinship placement, for example.  Taccetta says this finding could mean one of two things.

“Those areas of the state either haven’t been able to support a shelter or it certainly illustrates a need if someone wanted to open a shelter in that area that there is a percentage of children that could probably use a shelter placement and none are being used at this time,” Taccetta says.

And Taccetta explains that’s the point of this report – for communities to look at this data and figure out what they need. This fall, these regions will develop strategic plans that outline how they’ll meet demand for foster care locally. Taccetta explains these regional plans are a first and they’ll be submitted to DFPS for review and approval. They will also be posted publicly once complete.

The University of Texas McDonald Observatory is constructing a facility to improve our understanding of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and sea level changes. The McDonald Geodetic Observatory will help create a “terrestrial reference frame.” That’s a collection of landmarks that all other locations on earth can be measured against. It allows scientists to measure more accurately the Earth’s shape, gravity and rotation. Taft Armandroff, the director of the McDonald Observatory, spoke with KUT News in Austin about the project.

“It’ll allow a lot of these positions on earth to be put on a common reference frame. Kind of like the way we can use our cell phones with GPS positioning to tell where we are, but much more accurately,” Armandroff says.

The project is a partnership between UT and NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center.

The Texas Gulf Coast exported more oil than it imported for the first time earlier this year. The Houston Chronicle reports the milestone was reached in April and grew in May. United States exports recently hit its own record of 2 million barrels of oil per day. Nearly 75 percent of those barrels are transported via ports on the Texas Gulf Coast, according to the U.S. Energy Department.