Testimony supporting HB 475 before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
When teens in Texas foster care have a baby, HB 475 would ensure they receive basic information about parenting to help them stay healthy, keep their baby healthy and safe, develop a healthy attachment with their baby, and have a chance to keep their young family safely together rather than having their own child removed and placed in foster care. Because Texas is responsible for these young parents, the state should be doing all it can to ensure they are set up to be successful.
Pregnant and parenting youth in Texas foster care currently receive this type of support through DFPS’ effective Healthy through Intervention and Prevention (HIP) program, but unfortunately those services are unavailable in several areas of the state including a number of rural counties. For example, 15 counties in Chair Lois Kolkhorst’s Senate District 18 do not have HIP.
Research that Texans Care for Children released last year revealed that youth in the Texas foster care system are five times more likely to become pregnant than their peers.
Unfortunately, in Texas when a youth in foster care has a baby, that baby is twice as likely to be placed in foster care as a baby born to another teen parent in Texas who is not in the foster care system. Since FY 2016, at least 120 infants born to youth in foster care were removed from their parents and placed in foster care before their first birthdays.
In FY 2018, the number of babies born to youth in foster care and then placed in foster care declined dramatically compared to FY 2016 and FY 2017, which is partially attributable to the work DFPS is doing to support this population through programs like HIP.
The good news is the number of pregnant and parenting youth in foster care is low enough for the state to provide them ample support. In FY 2018, there were 344 pregnant youth and 187 minor parents in Texas foster care.