Governor Signs Key Bill to Support Kids in Foster Care

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Peter Clark, [email protected], 512.417.9262

SB 125 – a Longtime Priority for Texans Care for Children – Will Improve Foster Care Assessments, Placements, & Results

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has signed Senate Bill 125, legislation to improve results for foster care children by requiring a standardized assessment when each child enters foster care. The bill was authored by Senator Royce West and sponsored by Representative Elliott Naishtat.

Following the signing, Texans Care for Children, which has pushed for this legislation since the 2011 legislative session, praised the Governor and legislators for their actions.

"We thank Governor Abbott, Senator West, and Representative Naishtat for their support for children in foster care,” said Ashley Harris, the Child Protection Policy Associate at Texans Care for Children. "Their efforts will ensure that more Texas children receive the support they need in foster care and grow into healthy, successful young men and women.”

The legislation requires standardized trauma screenings for children who are removed from their homes by Child Protective Services. Often, children in foster care are incorrectly prescribed psychotropic drugs; experience the trauma and disruption of placements in multiple homes; and never find stability, permanency, and healing. This new law will ensure children receive a high-quality front-end assessment that will allow them to be matched with the right services and placed in appropriate settings right from the start.

"Understanding a foster child’s needs from day one is critical to ensuring she gets the support and placement she needs to overcome past trauma and live a happy, healthy live,” said Ms. Harris, who previously served as a foster care caseworker in CPS.

SB 125 is part of a package of policies under consideration to address concerns raised about CPS and foster care over the course of numerous interim legislative hearings last year. In addition to championing SB 125, Texans Care for Children is also urging legislators to boost funding to reduce caseloads for overworked CPS caseworkers and pass HB 781, legislation by Representative Cindy Burkett and Senator Charles Perry to improve training and screening for foster parents. HB 781 has a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee yesterday and is now pending.

Additional background information is available in this Texans Care for Children policy brief on trauma screening and assessments for children in foster care.