AUSTIN, Texas – There is a critical need for more and better-trained foster parents to care for children whose lives have been turned upside down, a new report says.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation study also said that foster parents in Texas and across the country should have more input in developing policies for the foster care system.
Kate Murphy, senior child welfare policy associate with the nonprofit group Texans Care for Children, said Texas officials are under a federal judge’s order to reform the state’s foster care system.
“The special masters did come back to the judge with about 13 pages of recommendations for ways to make Texas’s system constitutional,” Murphy said, “It doesn’t make it a perfect system, but it would make it so it’s not posing an unreasonable risk of harm to kids.”
Murphy said reforms were ordered after it was revealed that some foster kids in Texas had been subject to abuse and neglect because their caseworkers were overloaded and there were too few foster families.
The Casey Foundation report calls for Texas and other states to ensure high-quality foster care, help foster parents form strong relationships with children, and identify and recruit more foster families.
Denise Goodman, a child welfare consultant, said she agrees with the report, and that foster parents need better training and support from child welfare agencies.
“Every child that comes into a foster home is different, so that is a continual learning curve for foster parents,” Goodman said. “And the need for trauma-informed care is essential. These children have had horrific things that they’ve experienced and that they need help to heal from.”
Murphy said she is hopeful that the Texas Legislature will increase funding for foster care in its upcoming session.
“The legislators here have really started to focus on strengthening CPS and keeping kids safe. That’s clearly a legislative priority,” she said. “There have been about 10 pre-filed bills so far that focus on these issues.”
The report, “A Movement to Transform Foster Parenting,” is available at AEFC.org
Author – Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)