SAN ANTONIO – There are more than 15,000 children currently in foster care in Texas, but too often these children are left with no place to go.
Since the beginning of the year, the number of children without placement in foster care has consistently increased monthly. In July, the state reports there were 417 children without a traditional foster care placement for at least two nights. Over the course of the past year, Texas has lost 1,000 foster care beds, leading to a capacity crisis.
“We need more loving homes. We need the communities to wrap around the children that don’t have a place right now,” said Tara Roussett, CEO of SJRC Texas, which was recently awarded a contract by the state to oversee foster care services in 27 counties surrounding Bexar County.
Roussett said there are a few reasons for the capacity crisis, including the foster care system not being immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Covid was very hard for people to bring children into their homes,” Roussett said.
But some of these capacity issues predate the pandemic.
An ongoing decade-long federal lawsuit has led to the creation of new rules and requirements that some facilities have struggled to meet.
While foster care providers are working around the clock to take care of foster children, advocates say everyone can help.
Roussett said that while she knows not everyone can open their home to become a foster parent, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, tutor and mentor.
“Maybe it’s you can’t have the kid in your home, but you can be there to make them dinner. You can help mow their yard. You can do those things to help the family, the foster family survive and thrive while they’re working with the child,” Roussett said.
A federal court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday to receive an update on the hundreds of children without placement in Texas foster care.
An episode of KSAT Explains looks into the issues behind the foster care system in Texas.