Foster Care Federal Lawsuit Update – October 2019

Last week, Judge Janis Jack of Corpus Christi criticized the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) for being slow to implement the terms of the court ruling regarding improvements to the child welfare system in Texas.

You may recall that in December 2015, Judge Jack issued a broad ruling with a number of measures to improve the care of children in the conservatorship of the state. After an appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, many of the provisions in the initial ruling were vacated or softened. The state declined to appeal the most recent ruling in July by the 5th Circuit.

With the trials now completed, DFPS will be responsible for lowering conservatorship caseloads, and group foster homes will be required to provide 24-hour supervision. These changes will be monitored by Judge Jack and two paid monitors. These monitors will have access to the DFPS data systems during the course of the monitoring, which will likely be in place for years.

Last week’s statements by Judge Jack come in response to her understanding that the state is trying to control what the monitors get paid and what data they are able to access. For more about Judge Jack’s concerns, read this article from the Dallas Morning News.