Put Texas Children First
On October 14, I sent my foster care reform package to the Legislature and respectfully requested Gov. Rick Perry to declare it emergency legislation to be considered in the first 30 days of the 79th Legislature. Doing so would enable lawmakers to suspend rules and immediately begin passing the reforms that address the crisis at the Department of Family and Protective Services. I also urged Gov. Perry to immediately create a Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team by executive order.
When I delivered Forgotten Children, my heartbreaking report on the condition of our state's foster care system, I vowed to report back to the people of Texas as often as it takes to fix the broken system. In July, I released a progress report that made it clear that the Department of Family and Protective Services had ignored the majority of my recommendations.
This crisis must be taken seriously and immediate action taken. We can no longer wait to turn around the critically wounded Department of Family and Protective Services. The sweeping reform legislation that I turned over to the Legislature is needed for long-term accountability. A crisis management team composed of experts from other agencies would stabilize the agency during the change of management and provide technical assistance on contracting, licensing, technology and investigations.
The crisis grows minute-by-minute, child-by-child. By drawing on assistance and expertise from staff in other agencies immediate action can be taken to protect thousands and thousands of our forgotten children. Fundamental change must begin now. It is time to put our most vulnerable Texans--our children--first.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn