In December 2022, the annual Report of the Ombudsman for Children and Youth Foster Care was released as required by Senate Bill 830 from the 84th Legislative Session.
The Foster Care Ombudsman (FCO) was established in 2016 to serve as a neutral party, independent from DFPS, to assist children and youth with complaints around their experience in foster care. The report details trends and recommendations for addressing issues identified by the FCO’s investigations of complaints. It also documents the results of FCO recommendations from the previous year; reports on the results of outreach efforts with youth, providers, and stakeholders; and outlines planned activities for FY23.
- In Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22), the HHS Foster Care Ombudsman (FCO) resolved 578 complaints from youth, an increase of nine from FY 2021 (FY21). Of these complaints, 257 were substantiated, 296 were unsubstantiated, and 25 were unable to substantiate (there was not enough evidence to make a finding).
- The five most common reasons for complaints were:
- Rights of Children and Youth in Foster Care (179);
- Case Recording (85);
- Other (63);
- Services to Children in Substitute Care (55); and
- The Placement Process (38).
The findings in the report provide insight into opportunities to strengthen policies and procedures governing the care, visitation and treatment practices of facilities for youth in the system to ensure their health and safety. A common factor is how established laws and policies are interpreted and implemented by the agency responsible. The FCO also witnessed a stronger push by DFPS to include FCO in the policy development process prior to the implementation of a foster care initiative.
Read the full report for an in-depth breakdown of complaint data, complaint trends and recommendations from the FCO to address issues, changes resulting from past reports, information on efforts to promote the FCO and more.