The Texas Department of Family Protective Services is seeing big changes this year as they move forward in working through problems. Last year, the foster care system was a high priority for the legislature, and in recent months, faith-based communities have banded together with the state to provide services and make a positive impact. Child Protective Service caseworkers received pay raises, and the number of private foster homes available has increased by 11%. Texas Ranger Hank Whitman says, “Our turnover rate is the lowest it has been in ten years. We are the lowest among all the state agencies right now.”
According to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, “Texas has a solemn responsibility to care for children removed from their homes due to neglect and abuse of all kinds, and last year the legislature approved landmark changes in the foster care system.”
Texas organizations such as Orphan Care Solutions in Spring and Angels in Austin have been providing transportation services to kids in foster care to ensure they are able to attend doctor visits and court dates. They have even been doing home repairs for foster homes as well as the homes of children who are at a high risk of removal. In just Walker County, there are about 60 children in foster care at any given time.
Whitman says careful consideration should be used when contemplating foster parenting. The children come from environments that are so dysfunctional that they require removal. That act alone causes great emotional stress. He says that ultimately kinship care is the best option for children in that situation. Oftentimes, the child will have major physical or mental challenges that require special training for someone new. A family member will be familiar with him or her and could possibly know more about the care required.
Whitman expects a plan for continued improvement in 2019.