Central Texas Foster Care System Needs Support
Children around the United States struggle while entering the foster care system. It is a problem that needs to be addressed. The trauma, heartbreak, and challenges these children experience are difficult for anyone to handle, let alone a child.
One place in the US experiencing major issues within the foster care system is Central Texas.
The scenes are heart-wrenching — often children are crying, not wanting to leave their parents as they experience a deluge of emotions including fear, confusion and sadness. This while strangers working for the state come into the children’s homes and take them away from their families.
This is a reality for many children in Central Texas. These kids are unsure if they will see their families again and they don’t know where, or if, they are going to be placed.
Making Difficult Decisions
Judge Martinez Jones, an expert in child welfare, is tasked with making some of the most difficult decisions in the system. She has to decide whether or not a child should be taken from their home. To make matters worse, if she decides to have them removed from their homes, she knows there are not enough resources in Texas to ensure the child is cared for.
Judge Martinez Jones stated: “I have to balance whether or not that is actually in their best interest or if they should stay home with some safety measures, and other supports and resources put in place.”
Texas Foster Care
With 1200 children currently in the foster care system in Travis County (surrounding Austin, TX), and 55-60 children entering the foster system monthly, Central Texas is in a position where they do not have enough resources to care for all the children in the system.
Due to the pandemic and other changes in the system, the amount of children entering the foster system each month in Travis County has dropped to around 50.
The situation is difficult. There are teens (averaging 14 years of age) sleeping in Child Protective Services (CPS) offices.
The ‘Child Placement Crisis’
Judge Martinez Jones offered an update on the issue: “We have about 160 plus kids who are without placement across the state.”
She mentioned that Texas is in a “child placement crisis” because there are so many children without homes and they don’t have enough resources to give each kid the care they need and deserve.
Teens are often less sought after for fostering and adopting due to their traumas, long records within the foster care system, and their need for support, meaning they are having a difficult time finding foster parents and houses to take these children. Judge Martinez Jones added:
It is hard to focus on improving other areas of the child welfare system, when we know we have children who are actually not being served well … “The child placement crisis is the biggest thing that we really have to focus on and fix as soon as possible. It is very critical.
A Deeper Issue
In 2015, Judge Janis Jack ruled for the broken Central Texas Foster Care System to make drastic changes. As of September 2020, the changes still pending. State officials were warned about being held in contempt of court if the proper changes were not made as soon as possible. Speaking on the lawsuit, Judge Martinez Jones said,
We’re still seeing repercussions and impact to the current situation and child welfare because of that federal lawsuit.
The officials of Texas, along with the children, CPS agents, and the children’s families hope that people apply to become foster parents to help the damaged system recover.
Without generous volunteers and foster parents, these children will continue to be without placement and their trauma will grow.
If you have any questions about becoming a foster parent or would like to learn more about the system, check out our adoption stories here.