Number of Kids in Foster Care Continues to Grow, More Advocates Needed

In 2016, the Texas South Plains area saw a 10% increase of children being placed in foster care, when they expected only a 3% increase. They are seeing a large and growing use of drugs, especially meth, which is resulting in many more neglect and abuse cases.

Children involved with the child welfare system are often assigned a CASA (court appointed special advocate), a volunteer who is to be the voice of the child in court. But due to the increase of children in care, not every child has a volunteer. There were 603 children in the system last year, and only 267 volunteers. That left hundreds of children without the support and advocacy of a CASA. If a child is not assigned a CASA worker, their attorney plays that role as well, but normally don’t have the same level of time to commit.

“CASA is a huge preventative organization,” said Jaclyn Howard, executive director of the area’s CASA organization. “We work to prevent children from staying in the cycle. Our No. 1 goal is to get kids out of foster care and in a permanent placement. Whether that’s adoption, forever homes, or just a permanent placement.”

Foster care is a complex system. There are many variables and many players are usually involved. Typically, the goal for the child is reunification with their parents or a permanent home. However, many people truly don’t understand foster care.  Our society has many negative misinterpretations about foster care and adoption because of the media.

There are many reasons children enter the foster care system. The most common reasons people think of are child abuse or neglect. This can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglecting the child of basic needs. According to this article, other reasons children enter foster care include parent illness, parent incarceration, parent death, or parent drug use.