Advocates Applaud State’s Response to Expert Panel Recommendations on Foster Care

For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Clark, 512-473-2274,

Austin – Today, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) delivered a memo to federal court with their response to the policy recommendations recently published by the Expert Panel in the lawsuit against the state’s foster care system. The Expert Panel, which was agreed to by the state and by the plaintiffs in the case, delivered its recommendations to the court in January. Today’s memo from the state agencies largely agrees to implement the recommendations from the Expert Panel.

Kate Murphy, Senior Policy Associate for Child Protection at Texans Care for Children, issued the following statement regarding the memo from DFPS and HHSC:

“It’s great to see that state leadership is embracing this road map for protecting kids from more abuse, helping children in foster care live with families, and giving kids in foster care the support they need to grow up healthy. We urge state leaders to swiftly implement these recommendations to make sure Texas kids aren’t stuck living in a CPS office, a motel, a dangerous unlicensed home, or a foster care facility hundreds of miles away in another state. We appreciate the commitment from DFPS and HHSC to implement these recommendations, and we stand by ready to offer our full support for their efforts.

“Rather than making kids in foster care wait until after the 2023 legislative session for some of these reforms, it will be critical for Governor Abbott and legislative leaders to give the green light to move forward now on the Expert Panel’s recommendations like pooling funding across agencies to ensure trauma-informed services and supports for families are quickly accessible. To act now on the recommendation to place more kids with grandparents or aunts and uncles, the Governor and legislative leaders should also provide emergency funding to supplement the financial support that is allocated in state law to kinship caregivers. We are optimistic the Governor and Legislature will work with the agencies to ensure they can move forward quickly, just as they did with CPS caseworker salaries in 2016.

“As state agencies move ahead, it will be important to make sure the recommendations are implemented not only quickly but effectively. For example, as DFPS implements the family engagement recommendation, we urge the agency to collaborate with existing community mental health family partners who are trained to engage and support parents of children in treatment for serious mental health concerns.

“We also urge state leaders to implement the Expert Panel recommendations, such as increasing access to the YES Medicaid Waiver and the RTC Project, in a way that supports children’s mental health outside of foster care so more kids can grow up healthy in their own homes with their families and avoid entering foster care in the first place. We’re glad to see that HHSC is proposing to use the Texas System of Care to boost mental health support not only for kids in foster care but for all Texas children with complex mental health challenges. Although not recommended by the Expert Panel, state leaders can also leverage the Family First Prevention Services Act to provide support that helps keep children out of foster care. It’s important to note that 35 percent of children without placement in Texas foster care entered care because of unmet behavioral health challenges rather than entering foster care because of abuse or neglect.” 

“Instead of using the YES Waiver and RTC project to support children without placement, state leaders should seek additional Medicaid waiver opportunities or amend the State Medicaid plan to provide kids in foster care with increased access to more intensive services and supports they need.”