Responding to the Texas Foster Care Capacity Crisis

By Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO

Dear CASA community,

The capacity emergency our Texas foster care system is facing calls for all of us to respond. In June 2021, at least 415 children and youth spent two consecutive nights or more in unlicensed placements, which range from CPS offices to motels. This number has been growing exponentially since early 2021. For context, before this year, the monthly total rarely went over 100.

All children and youth in foster care deserve a safe, caring place to live. But as more and more children are made to sleep in hotels, motels and other facilities with only a caseworker to supervise them, it gets more and more difficult to know what we can do to help solve this crisis.

I understand that many of you want to do more to support these young people. Texas CASA is right there with you. To help with this, our Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) team is hosting children without placement (CWOP) conversation circles on Aug. 19 and 24, so that CASA staff, CPS and the Community-Based Care providers known as SSCCs (Single Source Continuum Contractors) can come together to brainstorm, problem solve, consult on cases and connect with others from across the state. CASA staff, board members and volunteers are all welcome to participate in these sessions.

I also want to encourage you to take comfort and be proud of the difference we can make advocating for the best interest of children. We hear story after story showcasing the difference CASA volunteers make in the lives of those they serve—now is the time to redouble our efforts. If you’re advocating for a child without placement who is caught up in this crisis, visit them in-person if safely possible, stay in close communication and make sure they know you are there for them. Explore connections for the child. Is there any one in their family, or a family friend, who could provide support, or even be a potential placement?

I, unfortunately, must remind you that it is outside of CASA’s legal role to take shifts supervising or provide housing for these children. We also cannot provide transportation of youth who are not assigned a CASA volunteer. Instead, use your heart and urgency for these children to encourage others to get involved. Do you know someone who has been considering becoming a CASA volunteer or opening their home as a foster parent? They have never been more needed.

Though the challenges our system is facing are severe, they are not insurmountable—and the CASA network, with 11,000+ dedicated volunteers, will play a critical part in meeting these challenges.

Thank you for everything that you do to ensure the safety and well-being of children comes first.