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Federal court receives expert panel report in federal foster care case

On January 10, 2022, an expert panel issued Recommendations for Improving Texas' Safe Placement and Services for Children, Youth and Families, a report to federal judge Hon. Janis Jack of the Southern District of Texas in the M.D. v. Abbott foster care case. The experts were asked to assess the structure and operations of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services system of foster care and recommend short, medium and long term strategies to reduce and eliminate the number of children in unlicensed placements. The experts are: Ann Stanley, Managing Director, Casey Family Programs; Paul Vincent, MSW, Independent Consultant; and, Judith Meltzer, President, Center for the Study of Social Policy. The report has sections on Data and Trends, Stakeholder Concerns, Assessment of the Problem, and Recommendations. One focus of the report is the disconnect between functions of TDFPS and functions of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, with a recommendation that an inter-agency team be established and operate with shared goals and principles. The team should establish targets to reduce children in unlicensed and out-of-state care. Other short term recommendations include appointing community liaisons to increase licensed foster care capacity, increase technical assistance, expand crisis services, creating more flexibility in funding concrete supports for trauma-informed care and foster families, working with providers to increase treatment care, increase access for families to wraparound care, convening a provider working group, and increasing access to residential treatment care in lieu of relinquishment of parental rights. Medium and long term recommendations include eliminating barriers and extending the service array for children, developing a statewide children?s mental health system, and strengthening child welfare practice to align with guiding principles and the practice model. Specific steps are outlined for each recommendation. To read the report click here.


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