AUSTIN – The Texas House Republican Caucus (THRC) today held a press conference where they called on Texas Democrats to return to work and give foster care programs a vote. As the Texas Tribune recently pointed out, 415 foster children slept in unlicensed facilities in June, a tenfold increase from last year. An increase in placement shortages has been spurred by shelters and placement facilities shutting down over the past year -- primarily caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, an increased scrutiny on the system due to ongoing federal lawsuits, and by a lack of funding for higher provider payments.
While revenue estimates earlier this year reflected that the state did not have funding available for this issue, projections have improved significantly, and the Legislature now has the opportunity to provide $91 million to foster care programs in Texas to alleviate this problem. Unfortunately, Texas Democrats continue to neglect their responsibilities and are refusing to give this essential appropriation a vote.
Prior to the press conference, THRC members met with state agencies and providers to gather input on the current state of the foster care crisis. Participants included the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Texas Department Family and Protective Services (DFPS), Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, Arrow Child and Family Ministries, Settlement Home, and TexProtects.
“It has been 9 days since Texas Democrats walked off the job, leaving foster care programs in our state severely underfunded,” said THRC Chairman, Jim Murphy (R-Houston). “These foster children cannot wait for the Democrats to finish their political stunt – they need help now. It's time for them to stand up for Texas children, return to Texas and do their jobs.”