Even one child’s death is a devastating reflection of holes in our child welfare system. When children areremoved from their home due to abuse and neglect, our state’s child protection system is conveying to parents that their child is safer in the care, custody, and control of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) than in the child’s own home. Yet, in fiscal year 2013, ten kids in the custody of DFPS’ Child Protective Services (CPS) died as a result of abuse and neglect, compared to two child deaths in the previous fiscal year.
Historically, chronic underfunding has plagued the Texas child welfare system. Caseloads have consistently been unmanageable, far exceeding the recommended average for all CPS caseworkers in Texas.
Currently, 90 percent of children in foster care are placed in settings managed by private providers. Each child-placing agency is responsible for verifying, regulating, and monitoring individual foster and adoptive homes for compliance with minimum standards, statutory requirements, and the child-placing agency’s own policies. State regulation and oversight of the private providers is limited.
This report outlines a number of steps the state can take to improve child safety in foster care. The report notes which recommendations were included in the April 4, 2014 proposals by the DFPS Council. After it receives public comments on its proposals, the Council is expected to approve them to take effect on September 1, 2014.