State leaders objected a majority of 31 suggestions aimed to “fix” the Texas Foster Care system.
In a document filed Monday in the United States District County for the Southern District of Texas, Thomas Albright, an assistant Attorney General, and team wrote 37 pages on why the suggestions aren’t needed.
Earlier this month, Kevin Ryan and Francis McGovern, chosen by U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack as Special Masters in the lawsuit, presented their recommendations.
Their suggestions were “designed to help craft reform” of the Foster Care system after Judge Jack ruled in 2015 that the system was unconstitutionally flawed and ordered an independent overhaul.
Their advice spanned from 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.
In these objections, attorneys for the state said there is “no evidence that the proposed remedies will cure the alleged class-wide constitutional violations.”
The document continues by saying the special masters gave their own descriptions in the recommendations, which the state’s defense said is “hearsay” and “not the best evidence of what is in the record.”
According to the state’s attorneys, the Department of Family and Protective Services already has some policies and practices in place that the Special Masters suggested, like creating a 24-hour hotline.
They object to reporting semi-annually to the court, saying DFPS does not have the manpower to do so without affecting efforts to protect children.
They feel the recommendations shift the burden of proof to DFPS to submit plans, instead of the Special Masters coming up with their own proposals.
Albright and team, with Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, said the “vague terminology” makes the recommendations unenforceable, and said the Foster Care system overhaul, only has to “no longer violate the constitution,” “Texas does not need to pervade a perfect foster care system”.
The document also said the plaintiffs have sued the Commissioner of DFPS, the Executive Commissioner of Health and Human Services Commission, and the Governor. So the defendants do not have the power or authority to enact legislation or appropriate funds, making them unable to comply with some of the recommendations.