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Foster Care in Texas is Poised to Build on its Successes

Imagine wanting to be foster parents to a child in need and then getting a call that your wish had come true. A 3-month-old-boy needed care and was ready to be brought home, but with a complication: The young child was infected with COVID-19. Jonathan's Place, a child-serving organization based in the Dallas area, made that call earlier this year. And the parents on the other end of the line did not hesitate, agreeing to take in the child and provide him with the love and care he needed, even at some risk to themselves. It was an act of heroism. In the Texas foster care system, it was also rather common. The system that serves 32,000 Texas children in foster care is filled with champions — families who open their homes to foster a brother and sister, nonprofit caseworkers who tirelessly call around looking for apartments for newly turned 18-year-olds who would otherwise be homeless, state employees who work long hours in emotionally draining circumstances, and grandmothers taking in kids whose parents are seeking help for substance abuse or other problems. By the time children reach the foster care system, they have often endured severe trauma caused by abuse or neglect. In some instances, the system has failed them. A federal judge in a decade-long lawsuit has repeatedly reprimanded the state for failing to sufficiently reform the that system, pointing to times when children were subjected to abusive and, at times, deadly conditions. These tragic outcomes are unacceptable. But Texans also need to know this state is full of dedicated, highly trained professionals and organizations committed to children, youth and families. We are working right now to fix problems in the foster care system and build on its many successes. The Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services (TACFS), which supports child and youth-serving organizations across the state, is enacting a comprehensive plan focused on delivering the best possible care for children and youth. We are providing more frequent and better trainings so organizations can ingrain the best practices in the field into their care. We are working to meet the individual needs of organizations by helping them strengthen their clinical approach, strategic planning and overall improvement plans. The key to system improvement is investing in services. We hope legislators will add funding for direct care to support the foster families and community organizations taking care of Texas kids — funding for trainings focused on ...

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