Two Texas child welfare masters appointed by a federal judge will soon file a proposal that will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to help overhaul the child protection system. Late last year, U.S. District Judge Janis Jack declared the state’s foster care system unconstitutional because of problems in the system allowing kids in state custody to be abused, neglected or worse.
Mike Ward has been covering the story for the Houston Chronicle. He says Jack gave the appointees a list of issues to look at in the system, most of which involve keeping kids safe while in state custody. State lawmakers are close to approving emergency funds nearing $88 million to hire additional caseworkers, investigators, and other front-line personnel so that the state can keep up with its intake of children.
But this is not nearly enough money to overhaul the foster care system, Ward says.
“This is essentially a band-aid to fix the immediate problem,” Ward says. “[CPS] is going to hire some additional people but it is not a permanent fix. A permanent fix, at least from what the state knows at this point, is gonna cost somewhere north of $400 million.”
A week ago, state police were deployed to find more than 500 missing kids at risk for abuse and neglect as a result of a contentious state hearing. Ward says as of Thursday, the police are still looking for 70 kids. Of the others who have been found, only 10 of them were removed from their families for abuse and neglect.
Another fix could for Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session before the 2017 legislative session begins to grant more funding to the Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees the foster care system. But Ward says that’s highly unlikely. The temporary fixes will likely be handled through this $88 million stop-gap funding, or whatever figure lawmakers decide to transfer.
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.