The Bills Steer More Children to Cottage Homes Rather Than Foster Families
We appreciate the authors’ efforts to address the state’s foster care challenges. However, these bills will steer more children to settings where they are likely to have worse outcomes. The legislation also falls short of alleviating the state’s foster care capacity crisis.
These bills tell CPS that placing children in cottage homes is just as good as placing them with foster families. Current policy directs CPS to attempt to place a child with a foster family before resorting to congregate care settings such as cottage homes. Under the bill, if the closest available foster family is in the neighboring county, and there is an opening in a cottage home in a child’s county, she would be placed in the cottage home.
Placing children with foster families is much better for children than placing them in cottage homes. Cottage homes are a collection of housing units on a single campus. Each holds about 8-15 children, with a rotating “house parent.” There is a broad consensus that placing children with families is better for their development. Children under age 12 are especially likely to struggle with developing healthy relationships --and likely to learn challenging behaviors -- when placed in a congregate care setting. In fact, ruling in the lawsuit against CPS, a federal judge found that Texas is already over-reliant on congregate care and that it poses an unreasonable risk of harm to their health or safety.