The Texas Tribune has reported that over 100 children have died under the watch of the Texas child welfare system since 2020, after looking into a report released by DFPS. In Texas, we continue to see these dismaying statistics about children dying or being abused under the care of the state, or more specifically, state-contracted foster care organizations. Our Texas child injury lawyer explains more.
How Does This Happen in Texas Foster Care Programs?
Over the last few years, the State of Texas has begun contracting out foster care to private organizations. This was done in, what they view as, an effort to save money and have a more efficient foster care system.
At the end of the day, innocent children who rely on these programs are the ones who suffer the very harsh consequences of these efforts. When these programs work to save money, it means they’re not hiring enough people to keep an eye on the very children in their care. Abuse goes unnoticed, undocumented, or even ignored. In fact, according to a statistic cited in The Texas Tribune article by a study from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, “children in foster care are 42% more likely to die than children in the general population.” According to the DFPS report obtained by The Texas Tribune, 44 children died in 2020, 38 in 2021 while in the state’s care, and 22 have already died just in the first three months of 2022.
One example is the case of Amari Boone, a 3-year-old boy who was under the care of a contracted foster care organization in 2020. He was placed in a foster family where physical abuse by his fictive kinship foster parents went unnoticed by the organization. Amari died as a result of the physical abuse and trauma while under the care of the private organization contracted with by the state of Texas.
Many people in Amari’s circle, including his daycare teacher, his family, and neighbors of the foster parents, raised warning signs to his caseworker from the organization, as there was a clear pattern of abuse. The caseworker and organization did not intervene to prevent young Amari’s untimely death. The organization was stretched thin with budget constraints, high caseloads, leading to a lack of enough resources to get Amari the attention and help he really needed.
Children across the state continue to suffer constant and horrendous abuse by their caregivers, like with the recent allegations of abuse at a state-contracted foster care facility for victims of human trafficking.
Why Does These Wrongful Deaths Keep Happening?
We often wonder how this continues to happen, as kids in this welfare system are constantly subjected to harm every day, and not much is done about it.
At the end of the day, the privatization of foster care harms kids. The state should not be contracting foster care to private companies and non-profits, as they often do not spend the time and money to ensure kids are in a safe environment.
Most, if not all, of the deaths, were preventable. Yet, the consistent pattern of cutting corners to save money ended up harming innocent children.
Texas must do more to help its foster kids. The state and their privately contracted organizations are responsible for the care and safety of these innocent children, and it’s up to them to stop this awful mistreatment from happening. Foster kids deserve better.