If We Care About Foster Kids, We Need to Fix the State’s Computer Database

All eyes turn to the foster care system in the aftermath of a tragedy. Calls for reform are widespread once people hear about problems with the system, but the insistence on change often dims once the spotlight shifts. Between 2015 and 2017, popular desire to reform Texas’ foster care system reached new heights. A landmark ruling by U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack illuminated many problems with the system and mandated changes, and the state Legislature followed suit with legislation addressing problems with the state’s system for protecting children. While significant progress has been made, we need to maintain our insistence that the system be improved, as rollbacks to reform have already begun. In her 2016 ruling, Jack required that the state update its computer-based case management system. This month, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals inexplicably rejected this requirement.This rejection is significant. The state’s current system, IMPACT, has been roundly criticized for being outdated and difficult to use. Jack determined that the system was simply too decentralized to be used efficiently.   Continue reading...

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