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The Source: Texas Battles The Feds Over 'Broken' Foster Care System

Flickr user Roar Pettersen (roarpett)

Advocates for abused and neglected children in Texas say they are optimistic about pending reforms to the state's foster care system. A federal judge has ruled the system is broken and violates the children's rights.

On Monday a federal judge named two co-masters to run Texas Child Protective Services.  Kevin Ryan runs Covenant House International that has homeless shelters in cities across the country - including Houston - and in Latin America .  The other - Francis McGovern - is a Duke law professor.

U.S. District Court Judge Janis Graham Jack wants an increase in the number of caseworkers to check on foster children - to keep meaningful records about their cases and to crack down on shoddy foster care vendors.

Speaking on TPR's The Source on Wednesday Rick Cooke - the CEO of CASA - Child Advocates of San Antonio applauded the ruling.

"The foster care system in Texas has been broken for many many years.There have been a number of attempts to correct the problems - there's been a foster care redesign, and unfortunately all these attempts have failed."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has fought the federal judge's ruling but lost at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Paxton has said the demand to fix the foster care system is an attack on Texas state sovereignty. Cooke of CASA said putting children first should be the priority

"I don't know if federal intervention is the answer but I do know what we've done in the past is not the answer. These kids are leaving the foster care system - they are leaving in worse shape than they came in."

The new co-masters go to work April 1. They will have six months to craft a proposal for fixing many problems in Texas foster care.


  • Rick Cooke, CEO of Child Advocates of San Antonio
  • Robert Garrett, Austin Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News
  • Sara Bartosz, lead counsel for Children's Rights, plaintiff in the case against the state of Texas

Texas Public Radio did reach out to Attorney General Ken Paxton's Office to appear, but they declined and provided the following statement "The Texas Attorney General’s Office will continue to vigorously defend the law and the state’s foster care program."

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi
Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive