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Small movements, big changes: special session to address displacement of children in the system

Texas DFPS meeting.jfif
Posted at 7:20 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 20:20:18-04

Governor Abbott announced Friday, July 9, that he is meeting with leaders from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to discuss what can be used in the Special Legislative Session to improve care for children in the system.

Abbott signed Senate Bill 1896 last month, which provided reforms and addressed many issues in the foster care system. However, the new law makes it illegal for children in the system to sleep in CPS offices until placement is found.

Furthermore, the bill did not provide an alternative for safe placement or the funds to come up with policies that provide a solution. That hopefully will change with the upcoming special session. The special session agenda includes improving funding for foster care homes and services.

"This funding is essential if Texas leaders don’t want our children living in a CPS office, an unlicensed home, or a potentially unsafe group facility — or shipped to a foster care facility hundreds of miles away in another state," said Kate Murphy, the senior child welfare policy associate at Texans Care for Children.

Murphy said that the Texas Comptroller’s recent revenue update gives the Legislature the funds it needs to invest in children that are a part of the foster care system.

“The Legislature passed many significant policy reforms this session aimed at making foster care safer for kids, but those reforms may be undermined by inadequate investment in the providers directly serving our most vulnerable children," Murphy said. “Years of testimony and investigations as part of the federal lawsuit against the Texas foster care system have revealed that many children, especially those with more complex needs, are at risk of physical and sexual abuse in Texas foster care. Several children have even died in Texas foster care in recent years."

Another advocate and TikToker, Shannon Jarell-Ivey, said her videos regarding the displacement of foster care children and the system were being passed around the Texas Legislature.

"Every time you stitched or shared or dueted that video, or any of the videos, it's getting to the right people and they're actually doing something about it," said Jarell-Ivey in her most recent video. "I have always said that most people, if given the right information, will make the right decision. And i know that I am an eternal optimist, but I have to be when it comes to these kids."

Jarell-Ivey said she is cautiously optimistic and will keep updating her followers on how much money the Legislature devotes.

"But at least they're are talking about it," said Jarell-Ivey.

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