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Texas Launches New Effort to Support High-Risk Foster Kids

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) will be receiving some much-needed assistance with help for foster children.

The Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division announced on Wednesday that it will be partnering with TDFPS to start a new conservatorship pilot project that is hoped to help improve emergency and long-term placements for foster children who have high needs.

The project will be financially supported through funds from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).

Officials announced that the project will use an integrated, coordinated care model for 1,000 of the highest-risk children identified by DFPS. The knowledge gained through the project will later be used to apply the project on what is described as “full scale.”

Approximately 500 highest-need foster children will be provided wrap-around care. These children have had multiple hospitalizations over a 12-month-period. In order to be eligible for the special project funds, the state agency must attest that the child has been a crime victim.

The Criminal Justice Division gave DFPS a grant of $8 million.

There will be four pilot sites for the project and the pilot project will be started during the next several months.

The goals that have been set for the Criminal Justice Division-DFPS partnership include serving these high-needs children “in the least restrictive and most appropriate setting to facilitate increased placement stability and ability of the child to thrive.” The partnership strives to reduce the use of residential treatment centers and inpatient psychiatric hospitals.

The goal is also to develop a broad array of placement options for children with high needs.

The pilot project is designed to increase placement stability and to lessen division of services by coordinating providers, services, foster care providers, kinship individuals, and other significant others in the child’s life.

No child will be turned away for any reason through the integrated coordinated care model, according to a statement from the Office of the Governor, Greg Abbott.

Breitbart Texas has been reporting about the problems with TDFPS, including Child Protective Services, and the foster care system.

Children’s Rights, an advocacy group based in New York, filed a class action lawsuit against Texas in March 2011 on behalf of approximately 12,000 children. The advocacy group has filed 19 lawsuits and been successful in 15. Among other complaints, they urge that “Far too many children” in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) of the department are “subjected to immeasurable and permanent harm” and “deprived of the opportunity for a safe childhood.”

In December 2015, Judge Janis Graham Jack ordered the State of Texas to enact reforms. As reported by the Dallas Morning News, the judge noted that the department was underfunded and called the long-term foster care system “broken.” She also noted the frequency of sexual and other abuse, as well as the use of psychotropic medications.

The judge appointed two special masters in the spring of 2016 and Kevin Ryan and Francis McGovern released their list of recommendations on November 7.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.

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