More foster children are sleeping in hotels and offices for longer periods of time as Texas fails to solve its capacity crisis
2021 has been another year of turmoil and chaos for Texas’ foster care system amid an ongoing capacity crisis of kids in Child Protective Services custody and don’t have a stable place to call home.
Hundreds of kids go without stable placement every night, instead sleeping for days or even weeks in hotels, offices and other unlicensed facilities. Many will wake up Christmas morning in such a setting.
The state says using these kinds of facilities is a “last resort,” yet the number of kids living in them has skyrocketed since 2020 and the amount of time they spend there has increased more than 1,000% since Dec. 2019.
The State of Texas continues to grapple with the failings of its embattled foster care system despite a federal lawsuit over issues that continue to plague it 10 years later.
A September report from court-appointed watchdogs concluded that kids forced to stay in unlicensed facilities are “at an unreasonable risk of serious harm.” They may be exposed to sexual abuse, given incorrect or improper medications, engage in self harm, physically fight with other children and staff, or run away.
According to the report, foster children without placement tend to be teenagers who have higher-level needs. A history of abuse, trauma, self harm and even psychiatric hospitalization is not uncommon.
Why does foster care capacity continue to be a problem in Texas? Do the issues that plague Texas’ system also happen in other states?
The current foster care system is in violation of a judge’s order, so what’s being done to fix it? Who all is involved? Are there benchmarks the state is aiming to meet or penalties to be incurred if more progress isn’t made?
What more can be done to protect and help Texas kids in state custody?
- Stephanie Rubin, CEO of Texans Care for Children
- Marcia Lowry, executive director of A Better Childhood
- Angela White, president and CEO of Child Advocates of San Antonio
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, December 22.