As our child welfare system continues to deteriorate nationwide, it was a breath of fresh air to hear that a federal judge has come to the same conclusion. In Austin, a Federal Judge ruled that the state of Texas has violated foster children’s constitutional rights to be free from an unreasonable risk of harm, stating that children “often age out of care more damaged than when they entered.”
This is just a first step in examining a very flawed system that’s based on an extremely slippery slope. The ruling states, “Years of abuse, neglect and shuttling between inappropriate placements across the state has created a population that cannot contribute to society, and proves a continued strain on the government through welfare, incarceration or otherwise.”
The class-action lawsuit was served by the an advocacy group named Children’s Rights, Inc, and the suit argued that Texas caseworkers are currently assigned too many children for them to effectively monitor, and that the children are being placed too far away from their original home, many times in settings where they are not receiving adequate care.
U.S. District Judge Janis Jack was asked to order the state to take greater steps in hiring more caseworkers to alleviate the problem of insurmountable case loads, an issue of which Judge Jack met head on. The judge also mandated that the state should stop placing certain foster children in unsafe placements which include group homes that do not have 24 hour supervision.
Texas’ Child Protective Services division is one of the largest child abuse investigation and foster care services. A ruling in favor of Children’s Rights will make substantial changes at the agency, and will force state lawmakers to reconvene for a special legislative session with a special emphasis on reform.
This is one major step towards nationwide recognition of a system that shatters parents and families every day. Education is always key, and without it we will be unable to address and tackle an epidemic of this kind. There’s strength in numbers, and the movement to protect our families just gained a ton of momentum. We must fight this horribly inefficient, biased and unethical system – one step at a time. This was a step in the right direction.