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Lawmakers Taking Another Look At Foster Care Following Budget Cuts And Deaths

Ryan Poppe
Texas Public Radio

The deaths of eight foster kids over the past year have sparked concerns and lawmakers are now being asked to review the Texas foster care system. Some child advocates say the blame lies with the legislature and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has asked lawmakers to take another look at the issue.

One of several issues that will be examined is what protocols are in place at Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to ensure that there are not more foster care deaths in the coming years.  

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, applauded Dewhurst’s decision to study the issue.

"I was excited to see that the lieutenant governor put this as a priority as our interim charges," Uresti said."Having said that, it should be a priority every legislative session."

But it’s the Texas Legislature that Ashley Harris, who works with the non-profiit Texans Care for Children, blames for the most recent foster kids’ deaths. She said the budget lawmakers approved in 2011 contained across-the-board cuts for case workers.

"This includes a reduction in direct delivery staff," Harris said. "So those caseworkers that ensure child safety and promotes a child to a permanent home, those positions were cut and it really put children at further risks for abuse and neglect."

Lawmakers must have the interim study of Texas’ foster care system completed before the 2015 legislative session.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.