A new report outlines 31 recommendations The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services needs to do to improve the foster care system within the next few months.
Kevin Ryan and Francis McGovern, chosen by U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack, submitted the suggestions to Jack’s office Friday.
According to the report, it’s designed to help craft reform, after Judge Jack ruled in 2015 that the foster care system was unconstitutionally flawed and ordered an independent overhaul.
The Special Masters recommend things like a private interview between a DFPS staff member and child, an accessible and organized case file for each child, and an updated photograph of each child in their case file.
They also recommend creating a 24-hour hotline to report abuse, phasing out placements that allow up to 12 children in homes, and reduce case worker turnover.
DFPS issued the following statement Friday in response to the report:
“The State of Texas has made improving foster care a priority and will continue to do so. Today's report highlights many of the issues we are working on day and night: building more capacity for high-needs children in foster care, constantly seeking ways to improve health care for our children, and making sure our caseworkers spend more time with children and families.”
Sen. Charles Schwertner issued the following statement:
"We appreciate many of the recommendations announced today and look forward to continuing our efforts to reform the state foster care system in a way that ensures the best possible outcomes for the children of Texas," said Schwertner. "I think we all acknowledge the need to make improvements in how DFPS operates, but ultimately the responsibility for solving this problem lies with the Texas Legislature -- not the courts."