Federal Judge Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi said in a hearing Thursday that the state has let for-profit providers endanger the lives of vulnerable kids in the care of Child Protective Services, or CPS.
Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau Chief Bob Garrett has been covering the ongoing story. He told Texas Standard about the first day of this hearing in a long-running lawsuit over the state’s foster care program. In 2015, Judge Jack declared the system “broken” and unconstitutional.
Whether Judge Jack noted any improvements in CPS since her 2015 ruling:
“[She] hasn’t really acknowledged too much progress. She is so incensed that the state has fought her tooth and nail and that her monitors can’t get timely information out of the state. She is pretty much painting a very dark picture.”
The court’s latest examples of neglect in the system:
“They noted in their report this summer that there’d been 11 kids in foster care who had died roughly in the recent 12 month period, and that they found three of those deaths to be very concerning. They really zeroed down especially on a 14-year-old girl who died in a residential treatment center in Wallis, Texas, just west of Houston, in February. She had been complaining of pain in her right calf. It went neglected and she died of a pulmonary embolism.”
“[Judge Jack] hasn’t ruled, but the plaintiffs working with her monitors have pointed out ten different deficiencies they want her to fine the states for, to put the threat of a fine in 30 days if they don’t comply, if they don’t fix stuff… Some of it has to do with making sure that the new caseworkers who tend to foster children are not given too big a caseload at the beginning of their working — while they’re just figuring out the system. A bunch of these things have to do with making sure that child on child sexual abuse is flagged throughout all the computers, and all the system. And a whole other set of these recommended improvements have to do with identifying and weeding out the bad actors on the provider side, the private provider side.”
The threat of sanctions:
“They could be ‘x’ thousands of dollars a day until they comply. [Judge Jack] put a fifty thousand dollar a day fine on [CPS] – that I think they only collected 150 grand last fall for not having adult supervision in group foster homes during the night. She’s feeling like they have not cooperated or paid attention to the needs of these children. So I think the sky’s the limit on what she may do.”