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Will Texas’ foster care situation be addressed in the special session?

by | Jul 9, 2021 | Firm News |

You may have heard that the Texas Legislature has convened a special session to take care of some unfinished business from their dealings earlier in the year. One of those matters could change the foster care system in Texas for the better.

As Austin TV station KXAN reported in a story on its website published July 8, the lawmakers will be taking a look at “how to recruit qualified foster families and providers” in Texas, “as children across the state are still sleeping in state offices and hotels.”

Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas would look at taking money from its general revenue fund for the “enhanced protection for the safety of children in Texas’ foster-care system by attracting and retaining private providers for the system.”

As the article noted, lawmakers passed a bill to prevent children without placements from sleeping in places like CPS offices during the regular season, but as some advocates for foster children observed, that law needs funding and recruiting of additional foster families in order to be able to truly implement it.

“We really had a critical need to increase foster care rates,” Kate Murphy with Texans Care for Children told KXAN, “and that didn’t happen.”

So it’s now up to the special session of the Texas House and Senate to address the matter. One San Antonio-based state senator, Jose Menendez, believes that increasing the reimbursements that families and providers receive would help ease the capacity issues. He’s looking to make that happen in this session, and has already reached out to Abbott on the issue

A Texas state rep from San Antonio, Ina Minjarez, has taken to social media to share what she sent to the governor on the matter.

The article notes that “as of 2019, foster families can be reimbursed in monthly payments that range from $300 to just over $1,000, depending on whether the child needs basic, moderate, specialized, intense or a higher level of care. Residential facilities or operations that house children can see payments anywhere from $500 to more than $3,000, according to the rate schedule.”

While that’s comparable to bordering states like New Mexico and Oklahoma, Menendez pointed out, regarding foster children, “We need to make sure they have a place to get the services they need to become fully productive and happy members of our society. Investing in Texas children is a down payment on the future of Texas.”

Minjarez pointed out that even though a lot of people don’t raise foster children for the money, the situation still needs to be addressed. “I don’t think money is what’s going to increase capacity… because people don’t do this for the money. The capacity problem, in my opinion, has got more to do with a lack of understanding about trauma.”

If you are interested in having your family serve as a foster family, this will be an issue to watch as the legislature works through its special session agenda. And if you have legal questions about fostering, adoption, or guardianship, the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance can help via a consultation. While people may not think of those issues as part of the family law spectrum, they most definitely are, and we have expertise that can help guide the legal strategies to go after your desired outcome.