A Message from the Executive Director Regarding the Texas Foster Care Capacity Crisis
Many of you have seen the recent report from Ted Oberg on ABC 13 News regarding the foster care capacity crisis which has resulted in an unprecedented level of Children Without Placement (CWOP) in the Houston area. For many in our community, this may be the first time you are hearing of this tragic ongoing situation.
This capacity crisis is happening due to a myriad of complex, converging issues in the Texas child welfare system. The result is Child Protective Services (CPS) is caring for children with complex needs who are without placement in state offices or hotels. While this situation has been difficult for our children, it is also difficult for the dedicated case workers who are working extensive hours under exceptionally difficult conditions to meet the needs of these children. The strain is affecting even tenured case workers in our county and has resulted in many leaving the agency. Add to this the complexities and strain of COVID, and a very difficult situation becomes that much harder.
This is a true emergency for our Texas child welfare system that cannot be solved by the Department alone. Serving these children and supporting our CPS colleagues during this capacity crisis will require vast community support.
CASA’s role to advocate for the best interest of every single child in care in Montgomery County has never been more crucial. We have served 100% of children in care in Montgomery County for the last six years. So what actions is CASA taking to support children and CPS at this time of crisis?
- Our volunteers visit in-person with the children to whom they are assigned to provide connection, emotional support, stability, and to ensure that the child’s needs are being met.
- We stay in regular communication with the court and the child’s attorneys to make sure that the best interest of the child remains central to the core focus of the case.
- We have searched, found, and engaged family members of children using Collaborative Family Engagement to facilitate connections, support and in some cases potential placements.
- We research, identify, and facilitate access to community resources for our children.
- We have been taking bedding, board games, books, puzzles, toys, toiletries, and snacks to the children.
- We have provided support for CPS to facilitate community outings for the children.
- We have provided encouragement and support to the CPS caseworkers.
In addition, we are in the midst of expanding programs for teens in care and those in CWOP to have increased access to life skills classes and normalcy activities. These classes will not only better prepare them for the world, but also provides a much-needed distraction for mundane days in the CPS office.
How can you help? Donate to ensure our ability to expand our services for children in care. Join us for the CASA Superhero Run and Fall Festival on October 30th. Join us as a CASA volunteer! We are always in need of Advocates who will ensure that the best interest of children in care remain the focus of the case.
There are no easy solutions to the capacity crisis in child welfare in Texas. But, with your support, CASA will continue to provide connection, stability, and expert advocacy for every single child in care in Montgomery County. Together we can do so much to serve these children.
Ann Marie Ronsman, MSN, RN, TBRI Practitioner
Executive Director, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County