Judge orders changes to fix 'broken' foster care system
SAN ANTONIO - A federal judge is taking action to fix what many call a "broken" foster care system. The judge is requiring three more investigators to look into The Department of Family and Protective Services. She has also doubled the amount of hours the team is expected to spend coming up with their recommendations, from about 1,000 hours to 2,000 hours.
Child Advocates San Antonio CEO Rick Cooke called the judge's decision to beef up the investigation into the foster care system, a step in the right direction.
"Hopefully it'll have a greater impact on the result. The work can get done more quickly, more person hours spent doing it," Cooke said. "They [foster children] have to leave the foster care system better off than when they came into it and that's not happening."
Cooke said there are five thousand children in the custody of The Department of Family and Protective Services in Bexar County. CASA works with about 38 percent of the county's foster children. He said once the team of nine investigators make their recommendations, he hopes law makers will step up to the plate and take action.
Sen. Carlos Uresti said he inteds to do just that.
"For too long, we've been kicking the can down the road, so to speak," Uresti said.
The senator said he has heard a lot of negative real-life stories from young adults after they aged out of the foster care system.
"I've heard a number of stories and I have visited many places years ago where kids were being abandoned," Sen. Uresti said.
The investigators must present recommendations on how to fix the foster care system by September.
"I'm glad that something is happening finally to take care of these kids," Sen. Uresti said.
The Attorney General's Office is litigating this case. The office released the following statement:
"The foster care system is one of the most important functions of the State. We have a solemn responsibility to care for children removed from their homes due to severe neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse. That's why we strongly support the state-led reform efforts already underway. But when unelected federal judges improperly assume control of state institutions, Texas officials cannot make the policy choices that they have been entrusted to makeand Texas voters lose their right to shape the debate and participate in the process. The judge in this case acted outside of her legal authority and we are asking the Fifth Circuit to correct that error."