Austin – Yesterday, Gov. Greg Abbott pledged to comply with orders by U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack in a nearly 10-year-old class-action lawsuit over long-term foster care conditions.
Sophie Phillips, CEO, TexProtects:
“We applaud Governor Abbott in his vow to bring the state of Texas into compliance with the longstanding lawsuit against the Texas Foster Care system, recognizing that it is fundamental to ensuring the immediate safety and protection of the nearly 50,000 children who are survivors of child abuse and neglect and come through the state’s foster care doors every year. The CPS system was built to protect. However, for thousands of children, it caused trauma on par, if not more significant than what launched them into foster care initially.
The Governor’s vow is a substantial promise and will require from our Legislature this session an investment to the tune of $126 million – significant, yet worth every penny to protect the safety of our children. It will also require leaders within our child protection agency to positively disrupt the challenges that have plagued the system for so long – coming up with innovative solutions and significant overhauls to infrastructure and systems. The reality is that while compliance with the lawsuit is necessary to solve many grave problems, it will not bring about transformational change – it is just the foundation and floor upon which we must build.
An investment of $126 million to address the many issues in the lawsuit will not erase the trauma those kids suffered.
We must consider what additional actions can be taken to prevent children from experiencing the trauma of abuse in the first place. The proven, most effective way to prevent abuse and neglect is to invest in community-driven prevention programs that get to root causes.
In addition to the $126 million investment needed, the state will spend more than $2 billion on the “back end” of the child protection system this year (i.e., foster care, abuse investigations, case management). Less than 5% – will be spent on programs and strategies that prevent abuse – which has demonstrated upwards of a 50% reduction in CPS involvement.
There should not be an “either” “or” when it comes to protecting our state’s most vulnerable. We urge Gov. Abbott and our lawmakers to fulfill the promise to comply with the lawsuit and further commit to fewer children in foster care, which is no permanent place for a child to grow up. Together we can build and restore the foundations of childhood and build healthy families – securing the future of Texas.”
TexProtects is the only nonprofit and nonpartisan advocacy organization with a singular focus: smart solutions to child abuse and neglect for the state of Texas. Visit texprotects.org for more resources.