Foster Care Capacity Crisis

Please monitor this page for updated information and resources on the Foster Care Capacity Crisis.

Governor Greg Abbott has designated foster care capacity as one of the issues the Legislature can act on during the 30-day special session that began July 8. Specifically, the Governor directed the Legislature to consider directing state dollars toward “enhanced protection for the safety of children in Texas’ foster-care system by attracting and retaining private providers for the system.” This is a critical opportunity to highlight and begin to address the root causes of the lack of adequate placements in the foster care system. It is also a chance to stress the continuum of services needed for children who have been traumatized by abuse and neglect and have complex needs. It comes after a lack of adequate placements has pushed the number of kids sleeping in unlicensed and unregulated settings to record highs. It is important to understand that a confluence of factors has contributed to the placement shortage.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has hampered trainings and recruitment, made many foster families reluctant to bring kids into their homes and limited the number of staff and kids who can safely be in a facility at any given time.
  • COVID-related delays in court hearings, home studies and other stops on the path to a permanent home have left more kids staying in care for longer.
  • Meanwhile, new requirements and regulations requiring time and resources for compliance have been put on organizations that provide foster care services.
  • Organizations, like many employers, are struggling to hire and retain fully qualified workers who can provide the array of services needed by kids who experienced severe trauma before they came into the system

Legislators Have Urgent Chance to Help Kids in State’s Care

Special Session Remarks

The special legislative session is underway at the Texas Capitol and the agenda includes an opportunity to invest in the care and services needed by some our most vulnerable children and youth. Gov. Greg Abbott has called on legislators to provide additional funding to address the shortage of appropriate placements for Texas kids experiencing foster care. Currently, there is a shortage of appropriate placements, causing a record number of kids to sleep in state offices. Keep reading.

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We know that the young Texans who do not have placements have substantial needs.

Children without placements are typically older youth. Some 85 percent of these kids have had previous psychiatric hospitalization. Many of these kids are coping with behaviors such as running away, self-harm, or aggression. These kids need more than a bed. It’s imperative to find appropriate placements that can provide the support, supervision and therapeutic services they need.

Investments are needed to appropriately serve kids without placements.

Effectively serving high-needs kids requires greater support, training, staff supervision. In the short term, flexible funding from state and/or federal sources can help organizations open up facilities, provide specialized trainings, and add needed staff. Leading up to the next legislative session, it will be critical to work toward a foster care rate methodology that better reflects kids’ needs and the ongoing stressors on the system.

This is a critical moment for young Texans who have suffered the trauma caused by abuse and neglect. We owe it to them and to the future of this state to strengthen the safety net for our states most vulnerable kids by investing in the services they need.