Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dear Governor Abbott

Dear Governor Abbott:

In response to the recent deaths of three children in foster care, you recently wrote a letter to Commissioner John Specia of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services stating your desire to see stronger measures put in place to prevent fatalities of children in the state's custody.

Caring for children cannot be a risk-management business approached from an attitude of curbing liability.  We must think comprehensively what is in the best interest of children, and if we are waiting until the State is being sued and children have died to allocate funds addressing the worst-case scenario, we have already failed.

While I applaud your sense of urgency to allocate $40M to prevent the deaths of children in foster care, $40M to prevent death is money spent too little, too late.  It is as if the State of Texas is saying, "Sorry, we didn't work to prevent the abuse and neglect that brought you into the foster care system in the first place. Sorry, we didn't hire enough caseworkers to visit you every month and know the condition of your care. But, now that you're in foster care, and we're afraid you might die, here is $40M."

Imagine what $40M could do in the hands of organizations using evidence-based methods to equip parents and professionals to help children thrive.  Our tax dollars should not be spent to patch holes in a struggling foster care system.  If we are going to spend tax dollars to ensure children do not die in foster care, we should do it right and address the safety of children long before death is a real possibility.

Sincerely,

A concerned citizen

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