It’s been clear for a long time that Texas does not have the child welfare system it needs.
A federal judge ruled more than a year ago that children often age out of state foster care in worse shape than when they went in.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a speech to the Legislature this year that more than 100 children died in Child Protective Services care last year.
And early last Sunday morning, a 15-year-old girl who had run away from a Houston CPS office was struck by a minivan and killed as she walked along the side of a roadway. She was to have slept that night at the CPS office for lack of a foster care home to take her in.
“Do not underfund this rickety system only to have it come back and haunt you,” Abbott told the lawmakers. “Do it right.”
Department of Family and Protective Services officials suggested that doing it right would require adding $1 billion to the agency’s budget.
Abbott suggested $500 million. The Senate has approved a budget with an extra $450 million for CPS and foster care. The House is scheduled to debate its budget on Thursday.
Decisions on more than money are needed, like how much value contractors like Fort Worth’s ACH Child and Family Services might add to the system.
Our lawmakers will deal with nothing more important in this legislative session. They must get it right.