Texas foster care

From Texas Standard:

An earlier version of this story said that thousands of children in Texas foster care are sexually abused. The data shows that CPS investigated thousands of reports of sexual abuse in Texas. Of those, CPS found 43 confirmed cases of sexual abuse while in foster care. We have updated this article and the audio version of the story to reflect the update.

A quick warning – some parts of this story are disturbing.

Texas children in foster care are getting pregnant at a rate five times higher than children who are not in the system. That was the shocking bottom line of a report released last month by the non-profit policy organization Texans Care for Children.

Bas Silderhuis / The Texas Tribune

A new report says current and former Texas foster youth face greater pregnancy risks and calls on the state to provide health care and education to at-risk teens.

From The Texas Tribune:

After entering Texas’ foster care system in 2006, the day after her 14th birthday, Unisha Curry bounced around anywhere from nine to 11 foster homes. In one of her final homes, she had three foster sisters who were teen mothers.

A bill before Kansas lawmakers says faith-based child agencies should not be required to place children in families if it conflicts with the religious values of the organization.

The private groups currently can choose not to serve some people, such as single parents or same-sex couples.

The new head of Kansas’ troubled child welfare agency got a unanimous vote of confidence from a legislative committee Friday.

Even the agency's staunchest critics think Gina Meier-Hummel will sail through a confirmation vote from the full Senate to head the Department for Children and Families.

“I can’t imagine that she will” face any serious opposition, said Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat running for governor, and one of several lawmakers who called for the ouster of Meier-Hummel’s predecessor, former DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.

A federal judge has ruled Texas will continue to need oversight of how it cares for vulnerable children, even after sweeping legislative changes last year.

In a 116-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Janis Jack ruled on Friday afternoon that Texas leaders will remain under the watchful eye of federal special masters for three years as they implement more policies for how abused and neglected children are protected. She wrote in her ruling that “the system remains broken and DFPS has demonstrated an unwillingness to take tangible steps to fix the broken system.”

dfps.state.texas.us

The Texas Department of Child Protective Services continues to fall short when it comes to responding to investigations in a timely manner, reports The Austin American-Stateman.

However, things have improved somewhat at the embattled agency. Since CPS was ordered to clean up its operation by lawmakers, employee workloads have diminished, and the agency has hired more caseworkers. But when it comes to responding to calls regarding children in potential danger, the organization is still lagging behind.

Texas Looks To Improve Troubled Foster Care System

Sep 7, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

A number of laws took effect earlier this month meant to improve Texas’s child welfare system.

As KUT reports, the state’s foster care system was deemed unconstitutional and “broken” by a U.S. District Judge in Dec. 2015, following several reports about Texas kids dying from neglect and abuse while in foster care.

That led to a series of bills aimed at overhauling the system, including Senate Bill 11, which establishes a model that increasingly privatizes the foster care system.

A few years ago, Olathe attorney Shanelle Dupree noticed a pattern in the foster care cases she handled: Most parents had little understanding of the system or what to do if they wanted their children back.

So she started a class to try to change that. Once a month, parents who have a child in foster care can meet in a Johnson County family law courtroom to learn more about the basics of the child welfare system. Most parents are referred by the courts as part of the plan to prove they can take care of their children, Dupree said.

Nick Youngson http://nyphotographic.com/

As the Texas Panhandle faces a rising number of foster children without homes, the Texas Legislature Monday passed a law that would turn away some prospective parents for religious reasons.

As ABC 7 Amarillo reports, there is a growing need for foster homes in the Texas Panhandle.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

The Texas House of Representatives has passed a measure that would prevent doctors from vaccinating foster children—even when those vaccinations would prevent them from later getting cervical cancer.

Astrid Westvang / Creative Commons

In Texas, foster care providers have clashed with court judges over a senator’s proposal to privatize foster care.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the debate centers around whether private contractors in Texas should be allowed to completely take over supervision of abused and neglected children.

Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman

A federal judge has now ordered Texas officials to create several plans to fix the systemic problems that have plagued the state’s foster care system for years. Some of the proposed fixes will be due in as little as three months from now.