Hidden or Shadow Foster Care: All Of The Responsibility, None Of The Resources

Laura and her husband decided to take Sophie in while Ashley entered rehab again. The hope was that Ashley would get back on her feet, and that Sophie would be safe with people who loved her. “We never agreed to take the child for the long term, but were more than happy for her to stay in a loving, supportive home, and the only home she has ever truly known,” Laura told The Appeal.

But Ashley hasn’t been able to get back on her feet since then, and the agreement CPS initiated with Ashley, a temporary custody order, has expired. Laura and her husband have incurred tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to achieve stability for Sophie, by placing her with either the couple or another loving family. But Laura and her husband, who had plans to retire, are instead caring for a 4-year-old child—without any legal rights, monetary support, or state services for the girl. (*Laura, Ashley, and Sophie’s names have been changed to protect the child’s identity.)

Removing children from their parents and placing them with relatives is a common occurrence in Texas, and around the country, as child welfare authorities intervene in situations like Sophie’s. But unlike the traditional foster care system, no court case is initiated, and no lawyers are present to advise either parents or caregivers of their rights. Legal advocates say these arrangements lead to confusion around custody rights, are ripe for coercion of the parent, and leave caregivers without any support in caring for children…

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