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The Brief: Foster Care Pressures Mean Longer Psych Stays

Time spent in psychiatric facilities by abused children is up from six years ago, an effect of increased federal scrutiny of the foster care program and new restrictions on placing abused children in the care of relatives.

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The Big Conversation

Time spent in psychiatric facilities by abused children is up from six years ago, an effect of increased federal scrutiny of the foster care program and new restrictions on placing abused children in the care of relatives.

Those restrictions, the Tribune’s Terri Langford reported, has helped create a 37 percent increase in Child Protective Services removals from January 2015 to January 2016.

One effect is an increase in the number of children forced to sleep in agency offices. Another is the increase in time spent in psychiatric facilities, “which can cost $650 a day just for that child's room and board,” Langford wrote.

She added, “The Tribune first asked the state for foster care psychiatric stay data in November and received it in late March. It shows that children as young as two years have been hospitalized for mental illness once taken from abusive homes. (Department of Family and Protective Services) did not provide information on exactly how much these overstays cost the agency.”

On the federal side, two special masters are overseeing the state after a federal judge found the state’s long-term foster care system unconstitutional in December.

Trib Must Reads

Is Your Governor Running for President in 2020?, by Ross Ramsey, Ben Hasson and Emily Albracht— Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a book coming out next month. Surely that doesn't mean he's planning...

Vista Ridge Pipeline Opponents Win Small Victory, by Kiah Collier — A controversial plan for a 142-mile pipeline to carry water to San Antonio suffered a small defeat this week when the state water development agency staff said it wasn't eligible for an $885 million low-interest construction loan.

UT Steps Up Security After Body of Student Found on Campus, by Matthew Watkins and Madlin Mekelburg — Urging students to be more careful on campus, University of Texas at Austin officials are stepping up security after determining that a body found on campus this week belonged to a freshman dance student.

Timeline: The Rise and Fall of the Cruz/Trump Bromance, by Jordan Rudner, Madlin Mekelburg and Lauren Flannery — It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for the two leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Less than a year ago, Ted Cruz was praising Donald Trump as "terrific."

The Day Ahead

•    The Libertarian Party of Texas kicks off its three day 2016 state convention today at the Norris Conference Center in San Antonio. 

•    The 139th Cattle Raisers Convention, the biggest ranching industry event in Texas and Oklahoma, begins its three day meeting today at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Forth Worth.

•    GOP strategist Karl Rove will be the featured speaker at the Republican Party of Bexar County Lincoln Day Celebration in San Antonio. A reception and book signing will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the event programming at 7 p.m.


Can America Learn to Love Ted Cruz?, TIME

G.O.P. Donors, Eager to Defeat Donald Trump, Learn to Love Ted Cruz, The New York Times

Ted Cruz’s media makeover, The Washington Post

Baylor President Ken Starr publicly addresses rape scandal, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

2 remote Border Patrol sectors report high use of force , Austin American-Statesman

Texas ethics regulator eyes tighter restrictions for lobby-sponsored trips, San Antonio Express-News

Group takes aim at vaccination rates as study shows Texas is No. 49, Austin American-Statesman

New York Daily News to Ted Cruz: ‘Take the F U Train’, Austin American-Statesman

Ken Paxton hires 2nd religious liberties activist as chief of staff, The Dallas Morning News

Uh, Uh, Oh: Beyoncé sues San Antonio company Feyoncé Inc. over trademark violations, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“I call him a steady Eddie. He might not be the most fun to have a drink at the bar with, but America needs a designated driver.”

Mica Mosbacher, a Ted Cruz fundraiser, explaining why Republicans should rally behind the Texas senator even though he was not their first pick for president

News From Home

•    Tune in for the latest episode of The Ticket, a co-production of the Tribune and KUT. KUT’s Ben Philpott dives into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and how conservatives might use Alexander Hamilton to stop him. Philpott also talks with Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey about whether or Trump’s rise to GOP frontrunner can be blamed on journalists.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    A Conversation with Dawn Buckingham on April 21 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation on San Antonio & the Legislature: The Issues in the Interim on April 26 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston

•    The Texas Tribune's third Texas-centric Trivia Night on May 1 at The Highball in Austin

•    A Conversation on Mental Health Matters on May 10 at KLRU Studio 6A in Austin

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