In 2017 Texas Reformed its Foster Care System: Has it Helped?

In 2017, Texas lawmakers made some drastic changes to its child protective system, including a substantial increase in the budget for the Department of Family and Protective Services. This enabled the department to add more social workers, which lowered their caseloads, a change that yielded immediate results: 2017 had the lowest CPS social worker turnover rate in seven years with a decrease of nearly 20%. This was significant because a lower turnover improves relationships between workers and families and ensures better care and consistency for the children involved. 

Additionally, the 2017 budget allowed CPS to increase the subsidy payments to relatives caring for foster children in their home. The goal is to keep children with relatives, keep the siblings together, and keep children as close to familiar surroundings as possible (ie, avoid sending them to another part of the state.)

A major bill passed in Texas was focused on foster care and creating a “community-based care model.” This model gives the local government control over child welfare, including the responsibility of finding foster families. To date, one agency in Texas has implemented this model and they have shown an increase of foster families in their area by 20 percent. The state is hoping some other agencies will take the lead and continue to initiate this model. The end goal is for these organizations to take complete control of the foster care families from the state.

Many states would do well to adopt similar reforms. Across the country, the turnover rate of caseworkers is consistently too high because of high caseload ratios; as a result, families and children are often lost in the system. Families and children deserve to have the best care and resources as possible.

Information about Texas foster care and adoption can be found here.