Follow Live: House Panel Considers Bill Expanding Texas Foster-care Capacity Through Outsourcing

AUSTIN -- A House panel early Monday was expected to hear testimony on a major foster-care bill that would try to ease Texas' shortage of beds through greater outsourcing and faster roll-out of a new procurement method that aims to stimulate greater community involvement.The House Human Services Committee was scheduled to hear Wichita Falls GOP Rep. James Frank's latest revision of his bill that would privatize "case management" duties now performed by Child Protective Services caseworkers.The duties, which would go to a social worker at a private child placing agency, include supervising a foster child's therapies, working with the child's birth family and reporting to the judge overseeing the child's case. Some judges and child advocates have opposed the transfer, saying it would leave the state overly vulnerable on private entities and harm judges' ability to make CPS act quickly.Frank and private foster-care providers, though, insist the private social workers could do a better job if they have more information about the child.The death in Houston early Sunday of a 15-year-old foster girl who had been sleeping in a CPS office because the state couldn't find a provider who would take her is likely to be discussed. Here is my story on the girl's death and its implications for legislative debate of the foster-bed shortage.  Continue reading...

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