Texas foster care reform bill is one step closer to becoming law

Texas Capitol Building. (CBS Austin)

A Child and Protective Services reform bill is one step closer to becoming law. Thursday, House members voted Senate Bill 11 through to a third reading.

SB 11 would privatize care and move towards "community-based foster care" in certain areas of the state.

Senator Charles Schwertner, District 5 (R-Georgetown), filed the bill. Representative James Frank, District 69 (R-Wichita Falls), is a co-author in the House.

Frank said SB 11 gives more control to local entities and would improve capacity so that kids are placed in foster homes, closer to home.

"I think the status quo is let's put more money in and that will fix it, and we've done that for the last decade, and beyond," said Frank.

Frank addressed lawmakers Thursday and said it is time to make real change, and that the state can't "keep doing the same thing and expecting better results."

Under SB 11, the state would handover case management of foster care children over to a nonprofit agency or government entity.

Opponents to SB 11 worry that the state is stripping itself of responsibility and that there will be a lack of oversight.

Several lawmakers also pointed to other states with similar community-based systems that have not worked as intended.

Frank disputed those claims saying that there is plenty of oversight in the plan and that a judge always has the final say. He also pointed to similar pilot systems already in place in parts of the state.

Governor Abbot listed improving the foster care system as one of four priorities for the 85th legislative session.

A federal judge ruled last year that in some cases, children were better off before entering the Texas CPS system.