Overcoming a ‘Lumbering’ System - Texas Scorecard

An advocate for children and families hopes legislation passed this spring will bring an end to the perennial crises that have plagued Texas’ foster care system.

”Last month, 282 children stayed in a place that wasn’t a licensed facility, wasn’t a foster home,” said Brandon Logan of One Accord in an interview on The Headline with Brandon Waltens. “We don’t have enough foster homes. We don’t have enough residential facilities for children in the system.”

As a result, children have been staying overnight in state offices or hotel rooms rather than residential environments.

Logan explained that while previous attempts have been made by lawmakers to reform the system with community-based solutions, a “lumbering bureaucracy” has been resistant to change.

”You can pass legislation, but the problems occur in implementation,” he said.

He said he was encouraged by how much more involved the Legislature has become in seeking improved outcomes for children within the foster care system.

That has culminated with Senate Bill 1896 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham). The bill passed both chambers and was sent to the governor at the end of the session. It is currently awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature. Among other things, the measure brings more direct oversight by the Legislature into the foster care system.

More significantly, Logan explained, Kolkhorst’s legislation uses the real-world experiences from the slow implementation of “community-based care” programs to improve the way local nonprofits and government entities are treated by the state.

The focus of the foster system and its advocates, Logan said, is “permanency”—which he described as “what the future of the child is going to be,” whether that is reunification with their parents, living with another family member, or adoption.

By refining the state‘s child welfare laws into the community-based care model, it is Logan’s hope the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services will recede into one of oversight and accountability rather than the direct provision of services.