CPS Is Yanking So Many Children That They Have No Room At The Inn

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CPS: Children placed in offices due to lack of available beds
6/26/2007 6:02 PM
By: Amy Hadley

This couch sometimes becomes a bed for foster children with no place to sleep.
Kids spending the night in conference rooms — that’s been a solution Child Protective Services has used to house foster children it is unable to place.

Air mattresses, pillows and blankets are tucked away in cabinets and closets, ready to turn rooms at CPS office buildings into makeshift bedrooms.

Since January, foster children have been sleeping at CPS offices as a short-term solution to finding foster placements. And the numbers have been on the rise every month, from 32 in January to 160 in May. The total since January is 479.

This problem is a symptom of a shift of CPS resources to child abuse investigations, at the expense of finding placements for foster children.

“The system as it exists now is maxed,” Patrick Crimmins, with CPS, said.

Crimmins said the problem is tri-fold. First, there are 40 percent more children in foster care this year than last, but only 26 percent more foster homes and facilities.

“The number of kids in foster care is increasing faster than the
number of placements we have for them. So it’s a supply and demand problem,” he said.

Crimmins also said some providers are refusing to take certain children. He said the ones housed at CPS offices are those who are harder to place.

“Mental illness, some of them are violent, they can be aggressive. Some of them are runaways. So these are very, very difficult children to place,” he said.

And the third problem, he said, is there are facilities that don’t meet CPS’s minimum standards, so those are not an option.


Child protection

Texas CPS will have to find real places to sleep for all the children in foster care after July 1.

Regardless of the reasons, the 10 Travis County civil district judges signed an order last Thursday saying children cannot be housed in state offices. The exception is in emergencies.

“It appears to me, this is a lack of planning,” 126th District Judge Darlene Byrne said. “I know it’s not easy. So is it lazy? I wouldn’t say it’s lazy. It certainly isn’t creative. It is not finding the appropriate long-term solution for the issue before us.”

As of July 1, CPS cannot house Travis County children in offices.

“I can’t help but believe there is someone in the system who is really good at math, really good at budgets, and can draft really good contracts and figure out how to develop a long term plan to adequately provide housing for our kids,” Byrne said.

“We do need more facilities. We need more residential treatment facilities and we need more emergency shelters,” Crimmins said. “Every single day there’s kind of an emergency meeting that’s held here in Austin to go over each one of the cases of the children who’ve been in the offices the night before. And we discuss what we can do to get this child out of an office and into a regular placement.”

Caseworkers are paid overtime to stay overnight with the children, two for every child. Judges say given the types of children having to stay in offices, caseworkers are not adequately trained to care for them.

“The children they provide a safe home for are sometimes children that have lived through some of our worst nightmares and these children do need a lot of special care and support,” Byrne said.

About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by Lulu.com October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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