Dozens of people weighed in at a public hearing on Senate Bill 11, a multipronged bill that attempts to fix the system through a series of mandates designed to improve services on the ground level and bolster overall protection of children in the foster care system.
The bill, among other things:
--Requires all children to receive a medical examination within three days of entering care.
--Requires child-placing agencies to ensure children get a comprehensive assessment within their first 30 days in foster care.
--Creates a foster care oversight and quality assurance division to monitor performance and enforce contract compliance for all providers who work with foster children and families.
--Requires the investigation division of CPS to investigate abuse and neglect allegations at foster homes, residential treatment centers and foster group homes. Currently, those investigations are done by child care licensing.
The bill also calls for a nonprofit to handle case management of foster care services for some children. That means the organization would make key decisions about the kind of help children receive without needing permission from the state. Currently, those choices are handled by state case managers.
"I think we're making a serious mistake we don't need to make," McCown said.
"Caseworkers right now aren't always incentivized to do what's in the best interest of the child," Schwertner said. "They're incentivized to close cases."
"How many legislative sessions has this been addressed and how much change have we really seen?" he said.
Every legislative session,
This year's call for change has a different tenor to it. The state is currently fighting a court decision by a federal judge ordering massive changes in the foster care system. Child deaths have increased. Child abuse investigators are failing to see thousands of potentially abused children within state-mandated time frames.
Perhaps for all those reasons, Gov.
Schwertner said that child safety is critical.
"All of us owe it to the people of
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