News

More Texas foster children sleeping in offices, hotels

Posted June 9

— The number of abused and neglected children sleeping in hotels and Texas state offices because foster-care beds aren't available has continued to climb.

Department of Family and Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins told The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2rIUtTJ ) that almost 85 children spent at least two nights in a hotel or department office in May, a 20 percent increase from the previous month. It's the fourth consecutive monthly increase.

The hike is partly seasonal as authorities are reluctant to change foster care placements near the end of the school year, Crimmins said.

The Legislature's decision to increase foster-care reimbursements by $85 million over the next two years should allow for additional capacity, Crimmins said.

Child Protective Services officials also said it has failed to meet a goal for meeting with 90 percent of at-risk kids in person in a timely manner. The department was about 2.3 percentage points short of the goal, which is required by state law.

State leaders approved more than $142 million in December for the agency to give current caseworkers raises and to hire nearly 830 new employees.

State protective services commissioner Henry Whitman told state leaders in a December letter that it would take time for that money to produce results. The new 200 investigative caseworkers and 100 special investigators haven't been able to help immediately with the caseload because it takes six months to train new employees, he said.

Staff retention has improved in the agency. Between January and April, an average of 75 caseworkers left per month, compared to an average of more than 130 per month between September and December.

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