FOSTER CARE REDESIGN
Texas’ foster care system is in very tough shape, and unfortunately, our most vulnerable kids are paying the price. U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack recently declared the system unconstitutional and ordered sweeping changes that include reducing “impossible” workloads for caseworkers and an immediate halt to placing kids in group homes that lack round-the-clock supervision.
But how to get from here to there? The next 12-24 months will be a critical period during which a focused, well-coordinated effort can influence the future of foster care throughout the state of Texas. The good news is that right here in Fort Worth ACH Child & Family Services has a successful pilot project to redesign the foster care system. Core components include limiting placements to within 50 miles, keeping siblings placed together, keeping children safe & reducing placement disruptions. A recent study by Perrryman Associates places the ROI on ACH’s model at $3.44 for every dollar invested in ACH. Here’s a link to information about the promising results they’ve achieved thus far.
In May 2016, the North Texas Community Foundation convened 65 key leaders (including legislators, foundation executives and agency directors) to discuss the state of foster care in our region and develop a framework for system-wide improvement across the state. Star Telegram’s editorial board has also been keeping coverage on the issue.
As a next step, on November 17, 2016 we laid the groundwork for statewide reform by sharing lessons learned through ACH’s pilot redesign project with policymakers on at the State Capitol in Austin.