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Texas Foster Care Lacks Enough Licensed Rooms for Foster Children

Government

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). | Image from DMN

What was once stated as a “last resort” for Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) is now an unfortunate reality for many children.

The Texas CPS has run out of licensed facilities to house the children in their care, leaving no other option but to place them in unlicensed establishments.

Texas Child Protective Services is a program intended to protect children from abuse and neglect and is run under the supervision of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

A court document presented to Governor Abbott reported concerns about children sleeping in motels and offices. Other safety hazards were brought to light, such as troubled children having access to certain items that could cause harm.

Often, the children placed in these unlicensed facilities had complex mental and behavioral health needs, manifest as “suicidal ideation, self-harm, running away, anger, and aggression.”

The Texas DFPS monitored children in these CWOP (Children Without Placement) settings and “found substantial risks to children’s safety associated with Texas’s decision to continue housing children in [these settings].”

The issue seems to have increased at an exponential rate. The Texas DFPS reports that 297 children spent one night or more in an unlicensed setting in October.

CBS News noted that this was twice the number from October 2020 and eight times as many as reported in October 2019. Tougher state regulations and funding issues have caused a thousand foster beds to be removed from the system, officials state.

For some children that need extra care, staying somewhere without proper supervision can be troublesome. Ladarius Leonard, now 18, recalls the three years he spent in CPS custody. He stated that he was moved from facility to facility often and, on a few occasions, slept in a CPS worker’s office.

“It felt like solitary confinement. I know it was not meant to be a punishment but that’s what it felt like,” Leonard told CBS News reporters about his experience.

The DFPS report also found numerous safety risks for children in these types of situations. Children allegedly were not given necessary medication at times, and at other times medication was not properly secured.

The documents also outline instances where children met with sex traffickers, some running away from the facilities. CPS says that dealing with children with issues such as substance abuse or self-harm is more difficult outside of their facilities.

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