Texas Senate OKs Payments To Families Keeping Kids Out Of Foster Care

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 23, 2017 1:21 pm

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

The Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday that would increase the amount of money provided to relatives who care for neglected and abused children.

Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, is the bill’s Senate sponsor. He said that while lawmakers have invested significant time and effort in improving the foster care system this session, “equally as important is supporting those families who take on the responsibility of raising their kin to make sure those children do not end up in our foster care system.”

House Bill 4 requires the Department of Family and Protective Services to provide regular cash payments to kinship caregivers whose income is, at most, 300 percent above the federal poverty level.

But some, like Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, feared the program could increase the chances for fraud.

“When a parent has their child taken from them, the child then goes to stay with a grandparent,” Sen. Taylor said offering a hypothetical situation. “And the parent says ‘I am going to refuse to take the child back because I want the money to continue to go to my parents.’”

That concern prompted an amendment that would cap the payments to 12 months. Sen. Royce West, D- Dallas, pushed back, saying those decisions are made by the caseworker, not family.

“It isn’t the grandparent that determines whether the child will stay in relative care,” said Sen. West. “It’s the state that makes that determination.”

The amendment was ultimately adopted after agreeing to increase the time from 12 to 18 months. The bill now heads back to House.

El Paso County filed a lawsuit against state leadership, including Gov. Greg Abbott, and Attorney General Ken Paxton, yesterday.

The county is asking a federal court to rule Senate Bill 4 – the state’s new “sanctuary cities” law – unconstitutional.

The city of El Cenizo and Maverick County sued the state earlier this month.

In many ways, Nyland is a typical student set to walk across the stage this Friday during a high school graduation outside of Houston.

He has a student I.D., and a spot in the yearbook.”

But as the Houston Chronicle’s Shelby Webb explains, Nyland is pretty unique.

“Nyland is this guide puppy, he’s about a year old, a black lab, who has been coming every day to Cypress Fairbank high school out in Cy-Fair ISD,” Webb says. “Basically he’s been undergoing guide puppy training.”

High School Senior Julia Smith has been training Nyland to be a guide dog for the blind or a service dog for people with disabilities.

After Smith graduates from Cy-Fair High, she’s headed off to college – and Nyland has some higher learning of his own to attend to.

He’ll go back to a training facility in either Oregon or California to complete his guide dog education.