Texas House tentatively passes expansion of foster care privatization

AUSTIN - The Texas House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bill Thursday that expands the privatization of foster care. 

Critics say Senate Bill 11 (SB11) not only takes control away from the state but lacks oversight, accountability and doesn't address all of the issues with Child Protective Services that were identified when a judge ruled on the state's policies.

Representative James Frank (R - Wichita Falls) sponsored SB11 in the House.While laying it out to his colleagues he explained the bill includes several provisions to reform CPS. Mainly, it transfers foster care management from the state to community-based organizations. Those organizations will handle cases and place children in homes.

Frank said to increase capacity, the bill breaks the state into smaller regions so recruitment of families isn't just done in Austin but also on a local level.

Frank said he understands there are concerns, but believes lawmakers have to take more substantial action than they have in the past to see results.

"I think the status quo has been lets put more money in and that will fix it," Frank said. "Lets put more money in and that will fix it and really we have done that, you know, really for the last decade. Really even beyond. We have doubled the amount of money put in CPS with about a 20 percent increase in kids for 12 years. Okay, but the results haven't been a lot better, so it's not just money."

Frank said while there are concerns about oversight, there are five levels of checks and balances in the bill. He also noted the decision to remove a child from a home ultimately lies with a judge.

If the House approves the bill on third reading Friday, it will go back to the Senate author, Senator Charles Schwertner, to review amendments that were made. 

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