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Texas Public Policy Foundation begins new child welfare initiative

The conservative foundation intends to weigh in on the state's continuing struggle to take care of at-risk children.

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The conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation is jumping into the conversation about finding fixes for the state’s flailing child welfare system, creating a Center for Families and Children to “propose conservative, child-oriented solutions that responsibly steward taxpayer money and respect the limits of state control while meeting the needs of Texas families.”

The goal is to work to help keep children at home and target at-risk families, foundation CEO Brooke Rollins wrote in a letter Monday announcing the effort. 

“For over a decade, good-hearted Texans have worked diligently to improve the system, and the Texas Legislature has invested significant sums in CPS and child welfare services,” Rollins wrote. “Unfortunately, all this has done is prove that meeting the needs of government and meeting the needs of children are not the same. “

The news comes amid mounting alarm over the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services' inability to see endangered children in a timely manner or quickly find foster homes for them. State legislators are mulling whether to bankroll the agency’s recent request for more than $60 million to help it hire 550 new workers and provide salary increases. In the meantime, other groups and offices are trying to work on solutions. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing for church congregations and religious organizations to take in children under DFPS care. His Faith Leader Summit on Nov. 2 is partially meant to promote his initiative.

Brandon Logan, who will lead the policy foundation’s Center for Families and Children, said his goal for the program is to work on ways to help keep families together. For now, he said he is focused on talking to foster youth and families about their experience in the system and listening to their concerns. He pointed out that taking children away from their homes often does not help with substance abuse or poverty problems that the family is dealing with. He said leaning on community organizations and faith-based organizations to create support systems during temporary difficult times for families would be better.

“Child protection is a core function of government,” Logan said. “That translates into good investigations of children in need or [at] risk of child abuse and neglect. That doesn’t necessarily translate into the agency being the one that tries to rehabilitate and reunite families.”

Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here

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