Only 1 Kid Slept at the CPS Office Last Weekend, a Sign of Improvement at the Agency

AUSTIN — Child Protective Services, known to bunk a dozen or more Texas foster kids each night in state buildings and hotels, housed just one at the office last weekend.A 17-year-old boy rejected other placement options offered by Houston caseworkers, explained top CPS leader Kristene Blackstone.To ease the embarrassment of having kids sleeping in offices, her agency is inking contracts for emergency beds as fast as it can, she said.CPS has "seen a significant decrease in children [sleeping] in offices in the past week or so," Blackstone, the state's associate protective services commissioner, said in a far-ranging interview.Blackstone, who has spent the past 14 months as CPS' top executive, described tentative accomplishments and daunting challenges that remain as her 10,000-employee agency bobs and weaves amid high visibility, better funding and rising expectations.National ambitionsGov. Greg Abbott's administration lured Blackstone back to an agency in which she sank deep roots, as a Dallas CPS conservatorship worker and Central Texas CPS field administrator for 17 years. The Republican governor has called for "Texas to be a national leader for the way that we protect our children."With foster-care payments near the bottom of multi-state surveys about reimbursements, overall state investment low and CPS lurching from crisis to crisis for a decade or more, many child advocates, judges and private-agency executives are skeptical.  Continue reading...

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