Our Community. Our Kids. – Foster Care Redesign

Dr. Wayne Carson, CEO of ACH Child and Family Services, believes that foster care redesign has the capability of bringing “positive change to the foster care system in Texas”.  Through a three-year, $30M annual contract to pilot a seven-county regional approach, Dr. Carson walked WPF members through a comprehensive presentation at our June membership meeting, 

 

He explained how the ACH Division called Our Community, Our Kids coordinates foster care, builds capacity, provides for accountability and increases flexibility between the existing 37 current providers of foster care in north Texas. 

Tarrant County has the second highest number in Texas of confirmed victims of child abuse just behind Harris County.  Last year, Tarrant County had 5,689 cases of child abuse with 838 children removed from their homes.  At any one time, about 1400 children are in foster care in this region. Dr. Carson stated that the foster care system has “a brand problem” even though 99.8% of children living in foster care reported they were safe.  “Foster care works if we do it right”, says Carson. 

The foster care redesign model does the following to correct the prior fragmented system:

  • Provides for local control so that community leaders can make decision about our kids not staff in Austin at a state agency.

  • Creates a unified voice for kids from the 37 local providers instead of each agency advocating for their own specific needs

  • Creates a sense of urgency so that kids get into foster care much quicker, with their siblings and closer to their homes

  • Provides for accountability in collection of data and reporting to stakeholders and gives a lens to evaluate the quality of foster care homes and providers

  • Builds capacity of providers and services in all regional counties not just Tarrant

  • Provides for flexibility and innovation through collaboration and leveraging of existing resources

 

The purpose of the redesign effort is to change the foster care system fundamentally through this new model.  And it is the first attempt in Texas based on models that have demonstrated success in Florida and Kansas.

The work is by no means complete with the ongoing challenges of underfunding and over-burdened case managers but the collaboration is already seeing promising trends (see sidebar for metrics). Carson said, “The good news is that these kids can also become amazing, resilient, inspirational members of our community if they get the right treatment at the right time.”

 

  • The number of licensed foster care beds increased in one year by 20 per cent in the seven-county region

  • In Palo Pinto County, the number of foster homes increased from 3 to 27

  • 70 per cent  of children are placed in a family setting and most with their siblings

  • In the prior system, only 43 per cent of the children were placed in foster care near their home while over 70 per cent  in the new system find homes in the region

  • Redesign has made receipt of daycare reimbursement quicker by 50 percent

  • 94 percent  of children entering foster care in the region are in stable placements

In the new system, MHMR sends therapists to kids in foster homes, before, foster parents didn’t know about the service

 

If you want to learn more about the Our Community, Our Kids, a division of ACH Child and Family Services, contact Dr. Linda Garcia at 817.502.1325 or www.ourcomunity-ourkids.org

  • The number of licensed foster care beds increased in one year by 20% in the seven-county region

  • In Palo Pinto County, the number of foster homes increased from 3 to 27

  • 70% of children are placed in a family setting and most with their siblings

  • In the prior system, only 43% of the children were placed in foster care near their home while over 70% in the new system find homes in the region

  • Redesign has made receipt of daycare reimbursement quicker by 50%

  • 94% of children entering foster care in the region are in stable placements

  • In the new system, MHMR sends therapists to kids in foster homes, before, foster parents didn’t know about the service

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