Fixing Foster Care in Texas

This past March, 237 foster children spent at least two nights sleeping in state offices in Texas—nearly seven times as many as March 2020. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, most of those children were older or had severe behavioral or psychological needs.

The department claimed that there were not enough foster parents and not enough beds in residential facilities for these children. The lack of foster parents is a problem in almost every state, and one we can only do so much to fix; government can’t force families to take in foster kids, and even the most qualified and well-meaning parents often don’t feel up to the task of caring for kids with special needs. But the lack of beds in child-care facilities is a problem of our own making, and one Washington should fix before it gets worse. Unfortunately, some child-welfare advocates are standing in the way of a solution.

In 2018, a bipartisan coalition in Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First). Backed by child-welfare groups like Casey Family Programs, the law was part of an effort to allow states to use federal foster-care dollars to pay for the kind of mental health and family counseling services that keep kids out of foster care in the first place. But Family First also sought to limit how much time foster kids could spend in institutions…

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