SAN ANTONIO – With a local partner ending its contract early, the Department of Family and Protective Services will take over managing the placement of Bexar County foster kids again.
A DFPS spokesman says the agency learned on Monday that Family Tapestry, the wing of The Children’s Shelter responsible for its community-based care initiative, was ending its state contract for managing the placement of foster kids out of Bexar County. The spokesman was unable to definitively say when the contract would end, but he said the state would be taking over that role until “if and when” it decides to put the contract out for bid again.
The state handles the placement of foster children for most of Texas, but there are a handful of contractors, like the Children’s Shelter, which do that work for the state through a model known as “community-based care.”
The Children’s Shelter’s contract was awarded in 2018 and was supposed to run through July 2023.
“We are disappointed to learn about the termination of the Family Tapestry contract. I know (President & CEO Annette Rodriguez) and her board and the Bexar County community gave it their all, and I also know we put in a great deal of work to make this a success,” DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters said in a statement sent to KSAT 12 on Tuesday.
“We will learn from this as we move ahead with Community-Based Care. More immediately, we are working with Tapestry so as this contract ends we will resume the placement of children and young people into living arrangements that meet their individual needs. And we will work together to make this a seamless transition.”
The news, ironically, comes two weeks after shelter leadership submitted an action plan to the state to keep DFPS from terminating the contract.
State officials had instituted a placement hold at the shelter’s emergency shelter late last month, citing “unacceptable” conditions and an ongoing capacity problem. The shelter was required to remove all children in its care at the emergency shelter and place them in other facilities.
Furthermore, the Children’s Shelter had to submit a plan on how its Family Tapestry operation planned to have safe placements for children or risk losing its contract.
Though President and CEO Annette Rodriguez submitted such a plan on April 26, she also sent a letter on April 29 threatening to end the contract unless it could be amended with more favorable terms. The conditions included less strict placement requirements and more money for certain types of care.
While Rodriguez wrote that the letter served as a 60-day notice of termination of the contract, she also said, “Family Tapestry would welcome the opportunity to meet with DFPS to reach an agreement on a viable path to continue to provide community-based care in Bexar County.”
At a hearing last week, though, a federal judge blasted the Children’s Shelter for its performance and request for more money.
On Monday, a DFPS spokesman said the agency learned the Children’s Shelter planned to follow through with ending the contract early.
Over the past several weeks, one report after another has detailed the troubling history at both the shelter and its Whataburger Center, which relinquished its state license in early January.
Incidents at the now-shuttered Whataburger Center included a 16-year-old in their care who attempted suicide by ingesting a metal bolt and a 15-year-old girl who used a spring from a toilet paper holder to harm herself in her breast area, according to a federal monitor’s report.
After the 15-year-old was taken to a psychiatric facility, she ran away from staff and picked up a glass bottle from a construction site and threatened to harm herself again, the report states.
The monitor’s report described that incident as “neglectful supervision.”
A Children’s Shelter spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.