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Advocacy Groups Look At Overhaul Of State Foster Care Program

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The latest overhaul of the broken Texas foster care system is getting guarded endorsement from child advocacy groups in the state.

Kate Murphy, senior policy associate for child protection for Texans Care for Children, believes the State Legislature has a lot of work do when it comes to guarding the physical and mental health of children in foster care.

"It's going to take time, and a lot of work, and a lot of continued investment before we're at a point where our system is at the level it needs to be," she said.

Back in 2015 a federal judge declared the Texas Foster Care system "unconstitutionally flawed" and underfunded. Since then the State approved some $140 million in emergency funding to hire 800 new caseworkers and give pay increases to thousands of existing ones.

Murphy said the money has led to significant improvements for workers. "We're seeing our CPS workers get out to check on children who might be in danger much faster than they were ever able to before."

One of the mail goals is to not have a system that the judge in 2015 said often leaves kids in long-term care worse than when they entered. "They've taken some really significant steps in the right direction, but they're not quite there yet," Murphy said, adding that she's optimistic the State's plan to go back to a decentralized community-based child welfare system will eventually work. "We're still seeing an increasing number of kids sleeping in CPS offices. We're hoping the legislature will continue to pay attention to the need for emergency placement."

Murphy says to get the system where it needs to be the reform process will need to continue beyond the 85th State Legislature. "Years of deep systematic challenges just can't fully be resolved in one, 140-day legislative session."

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