Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman are making a push for religious groups to give their time and services to help foster families.

In a joint letter released Thursday, the pair urged congregations to rally a “network of nurture” to support foster families with donations and other activities. Abbott and Whitman noted that helping these families “is a bigger job than state government can do alone.”

“Sadly, there are thousands of Texas children and teenagers in the foster care system who have no family and need our help finding loving homes,” Abbott and Whitman wrote. “While not everyone feels called to foster or adopt a child in need, we are all called to do something for this vulnerable population.”

The pair suggested that religious groups survey foster and adoptive families in their congregation; mentor older foster children; donate children’s toys and clothing or baby supplies; and join online portals such as CarePortal or Orphan Care Solutions to help fulfill requests from families and CPS workers for items and services.

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The letter comes as Texas leaders continue focusing on faith-based communities to help with the state's child welfare crisis. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick hosted a Faith Leader Summit on Nov. 2 to discuss how churches can help foster families or encourage congregation members to become foster or adoptive parents.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • new pilot program led by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office aims to provide specialized care and services for 500 of the most emotionally traumatized foster children in Texas. 
  • A board of lawmakers has given final approval for $150 million in funding to help pull the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services out of its crisis mode — but there are strings attached
  • legal filing from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has put Texas leaders in a delicate position of conceding problems in foster care but arguing against a federal judge's proposed reforms.
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