TACFS Raises Concerns About Lack of Foster Care Capacity


 

The Dallas Morning News published a story Friday highlighting the growing number of children and youth sleeping in Child Protective Services offices due to a shortage of foster care beds.

“Last month, 126 kids removed from their birth families spent at least two consecutive nights or more with CPS workers, either at state offices or hotels, the highest number in several years. In December 2019, only 10 children did,” the article says.

This capacity shortage is a major concern for TACFS and our members as we head into the state legislative session that will begin January 12. And as the Morning News article notes, a number of factors are causing this shortage:
  • Higher costs due to the pandemic,
  • Low reimbursements from the state, and
  • The resources and time required to comply with lawsuit-driven oversight that does not take into account the complexities of caring for kids with severe needs.
The Morning News interviewed TACFS CEO Katie Olse for the article and notes a letter we sent earlier this month to two monitors appointed by U.S. Judge Janis Graham Jack, who is presiding over a long-running lawsuit over the foster care system. Importantly, the article also notes that DFPS and the Health and Human Services Commission have asked for $72.5 million more over the next two years for court fees, lawyers and other costs related to the federal lawsuit — amplifying concerns about a lack of state investment in direct care.
As the TACFS letter to the court-appointed monitors says, “The heavy cost of complying with regulations stemming from the ongoing lawsuit is pulling limited resources away from direct care and services. We all want to improve the quality of care, but we cannot make those improvements through layers of oversight alone. Accountability and transparency must remain priorities, but the State and many organizations are redirecting already strained financial and workforce resources into compliance, rather than into care for children. We do not believe this is the intent of the monitoring process.”

We will continue to highlight ways the state can increase capacity so that every child and youth in the foster care system can receive high-quality care and services. We encourage all TACFS members to share those concerns with your local legislators and community partners as well.