Frustration with Texas’ “Broken System” of Foster Care is Spreading

By CR Staff

Texas child welfare officials have long promised an overhaul of the state’s dangerous child welfare system. A new story, spurred by Children’s Rights’ reform campaign, indicates that empty plans won’t be tolerated any further.

tx_shae_houston_pressAs our campaign to reform the dysfunctional Texas child welfare system gathers steam, there is mounting evidence that the public is equally distressed by the long-running problems in state foster care. The latest example is a powerful, evocative story that ran in the Houston Press last week.

Framed by the harrowing experiences of two young women who each spent many years in Texas foster care, the piece chronicles the state’s continued failure to rid the system of dangerous, negligent providers and protect children who have been left stranded in “permanent managing conservatorship” — essentially a system of permanent foster care that fails to find loving, stable families for thousands of children.

The story pays particularly close attention to the stark contrast between the state’s words and its actions:

To better understand just how broken the foster care system is — and has been for ages — wrap your head around this: In November 2010, while DFPS [the Department of Family and Protective Services] was getting ready to roll out its redesign, which was going to show everyone how the system would no longer be deplorable, staff members at a residential treatment center called Daystar beat a 16-year-old boy, hogtied him and threw him in a closet to slowly asphyxiate to death.

The writer continues: “Although Daystar is perhaps an extreme example, it’s a good one for considering just how much DFPS will tolerate from the people it has caring for kids. And it’s been that way for years.”

This gripping piece comes on the heels of a major victory for the 12,000 kids languishing in Texas’ permanent foster care. Last week, the federal court overseeing a class action led by Children’s Rights and a team of Texas lawyers on behalf of the state’s forgotten children affirmed our position that the problems in permanent managing conservatorship in fact place children at risk of harm — giving us the green light to seek civil rights protection for the entire group and receive access to hundreds of child welfare cases.

Powered by that momentum, we will continue this court battle to ensure kids in Texas foster care have the safety and services that every child deserves. And for the 12,000 forgotten kids relegated to permanent foster care, we fight for kids so they can leave foster care with secure homes and loving families — rather than living out the rest of their young lives as wards of a deeply troubled state child welfare system.