Assembling Self

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Great “State” of Texas & Child Welfare

The recent facts and statistics for families and their children growing up in Texas are pretty grim. It's some of the worst and most depressing news I've had the displeasure of presenting. This all has a direct impact on children who can be separated from their biological families, placed in the foster care system, for simply having parents who are poor. Biological parents should not be deemed unfit and have their parental rights terminated because of poverty. Children who are adopted out of the foster care system can lose their biological family ties forever, and in Texas upon adoption birth certificates are sealed to adoptees, biological parents, and adoptive parents.

Four out of ten people in Texas classified as living in poverty are children (about $22,000 per year for a family of four in 2009). Texas’ aid system, which includes programs like food stamps, unemployment, and Medicaid, ranks second to last in the country for the share of needy, eligible people, who receive benefits. Only about two percent of Texas’ poor children receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, in part due to the difficulty of accessing funds.

Texas has little funding for CCMS (Child Care Management Services) for low income families to help parents with child care to enable them to go work. And ours, is a state that has the highest rate of children without health insurance and access to decent medical care. To qualify for child care or medical help extremely low income requirements and asset limits restrict eligibility. Texas has the highest rate of children at the risk of becoming homeless, or living homeless in the country. "Women and children are the fastest growing population of homeless nationally and in the Dallas area," said Mike Faenza, president and chief executive officer of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

I've been told that child poverty in Texas occurs because of our immigrant family population. But, six states with equal or higher percentages of children in immigrant families than Texas have lower, and some cases much lower, child poverty rates. People say those who can't afford children shouldn't have them. These children are already here, let's not punish them for it.  Parents who are divorced in Texas can be bound by child custody laws that prohibit them from leaving the county or state with their children, which can bar them from moving in with, or near, extended families members for help.  Anyone can easily lose their financial stability through one job loss, one illness, or through divorce. I am not suggesting life long reliance on welfare I am asking that help families stay together with temporary assistance.

As of January 2010 79.7% of children were in foster care for the reason of neglect and medical neglect. “Neglect” can be simply be determined as failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. Poverty is not a reason to separate families. Here in Texas families have the chance of falling into poverty at a greater rate than nearly any other state in the nation. Pulling yourself up by your proverbial bootstraps can take an overwhelming, if not impossible effort. Foster parents, are often given and offered resources, such as financial subsidies, help from social workers, physical and mental aid for the children.  Adoptive parents can receive tax credits for adopting and can be eligible for benefits such as CCMS.  Why first instead aren't resources offered to biological parents to help keep families intact?

We all know the foster care system is ridden with problems and abuse for children as well.  We will always have parents who have no desire to parent, who are unfit to parent, and children that need to be removed from homes because of it.  But, foster care, and foster care adoption, should occur for children who have no biological family member who wants to and can care for them, are in imminent danger, and in cases of outright abuse. We should be promoting family preservation NOT family separation.


  1. I could be wrong, but I believe you've done your research.

  2. Blase I have learned alot too working with social workers in adoption reform. But, I always did love doing research papers in school, rather do that than take a test any day. :)

  3. Government subsidies only encourage separation of families so states can meet quotas of moving children out of foster care into adoption. Foster care should be a last resort.

  4. Triona and here in the Dallas area our homeless shelters for families are full up and over flowing. Some, are sleeping in their cars. There is virtually no reliable safety net for families to get help to recover from dire economic circumstances. All too easy then for the state to come in and grab those kids and eventually have them placed into foster care, and then on into adoption.

  5. Karen, thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been banging this drum for a while, and have gotten slapped down majorly. I will use this as a reference from now on. The state of the family in Texas is dire indeed!

    I am linking your blog to mine. I ama bad person, I know, but didn't realize you had a blog or would have linked it LONG ago!

  6. Just saw this Sandy glad you found it! Link away!

  7. Karen,
    One reason for the intense poverty in Texas is that the poor pay the highest state taxes. We have a consumption based taxing system based on taxes on what you consume. When you are poor all your money is consumed immediately. The poorest 20% of Texas pays 12.2% in state taxes while the most wealthy only pay 3%. It only adds to the crisis you document so well. See for more details.