Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) is the latest health and human services agency to face a public outcry over its management and performance. As reported in the Dallas Morning News and elsewhere, high staff turnover caused by overwhelming case loads and low pay has led to thousands of missed cases of abuse and neglect of vulnerable children. A federal judge has also ruled that Texas’s foster care system is so broken that it violates the civil rights of children, and appointed two special masters to oversee its reform.
With CPS receiving this long-overdue attention, this memo by The Honorable Robin Sage and The Honorable Dean Rucker, jurists-in-residence at the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission, couldn’t be more timely. It concerns a little-known agency, the Ombudsman for Children and Youth in Foster Care, that was created by the 84th Legislature to act as a neutral party to receive complaints by children and youth in foster care and help them navigate the system. The memo by Sage and Rucker is an effective primer on the office’s main functions, and we hope it gets wider distribution. It’s no solution to the systemic problems that best CPS or the foster care system, but it’s a valuable resource.