Texans Care in the News

4.15.2014 Privatization of foster care to expand
In a Dallas Morning News article, Texans Care for Children is cited as one of the child advocacy groups urging the Family and Protective Services Commissioner John Specia to "hit the pause button" on expanded outsourcing in the state's foster care system. The article refers to our report, which says quick expansion could put foster children's safety at risk.

4.15.2014 Committee to Examine Effectiveness of Foster Care Redesign
Recent tragedies have prompted the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to redesign the state’s foster care system, but our child welfare policy associate expressed her concerns about expanding the new program in a Texas Tribune article. "We need to hit the pause button on foster care redesign until we have some standards for foster care providers across the state,” said Ashley Harris. The article as ran on the KAMR-TV website, Myhighplains.com.

4.15.2014 Foster care changes under review
The state's foster care system is undergoing a series of changes after a record 10 children died in foster care in 2013. A San Antonio Express-News article covering a hearing about the status of these changes, included our report that contained 13 recommendations for improving foster care in our state.

4.15.2014 Group wants CPS changes after foster care deaths
KVUE News featured our report, "Safeguarding Children in Texas Foster Care," in a nightly news segment about a House Committee on Human Services hearing on foster care. The report recommends increasing foster parent training hours, adding a yearly home visit for foster parents and reducing CPS worker caseloads.

3.30.2014 Bipartisan Supporters and Powerful Data Back Texas Pre-K
There is broad support for pre-K, from both elected officials and chambers of commerce. Our early education policy associate Andrea Brauer notes in an Austin American-Statesman op-ed that plenty of work for early childhood education in Texas still remains, but much research and bipartisan support exists to help get the work done.

3.24.2014 Raise the Age for the Juvenile Justice System
In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed, our juvenile justice policy associate Lauren Rose argues that by shifting the juvenile justice age bracket to 13 to 17 years old, we can reduce crime, save money, and give children an opportunity to straighten out.

3.17.2014 Getting Texans Covered Promotes Financial Security
Given that the leading cause of bankruptcy is unexpected medical expenses, one of the best things Texans can do is make sure this year that they get every member of their family health insurance. In an Austin American- Statesman op-ed, Hogg Foundation Mental Health Policy Fellow Clayton Travis and Texas director for Enroll America Mimi Garcia explain that the Affordable Care Act makes it easier than ever for individuals and families to get enrolled.

3.10.14 Texas Demography Holds Key to Our Future
An Austin American-Statesman op-ed written by our communications director Peter Clark explains how Dr. Steve Murdock's demographic statistics provide insight into what steps we need to take to ensure a successful future for our state.

2.23.14 Wanted: Spanish-Speaking Mental Health Specialists
An op-ed run in the Austin American-Statesman and the El Paso Times addresses why Texas should take steps to increase the number of Spanish-speaking mental health specialists. Mental health policy associate Josette Saxton and Greg Hansch from National Alliance on Mental Health explain that knocking down language barriers is an important step in making sure people get the services they need.

2.17.14 No More Tasers in Texas Schools
KTRH News reports on a letter sent to the Texas Commissioner of Education to end the use of Tasers and pepper spray on students. The letter was co-authored by Texans Care for Children.

2.16.14 Now That CVS Pulled Cigarettes, What's Next?
In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed, health policy associate Lauren Dimitry commends CVS for removing cigarettes from its shelves, but explains the need to address unhealthy food and drinks as well to help our country reach its public health goals.

2.12.14 TEA Chief Asked to Halt Use of Police Stun Guns at Schools
The ACLU and six other groups, including Texans Care for Children, asked the state's education commissioner to ban the use of Tasers and pepper spray in schools. The Houston Chronicle article reports that the groups mounted a campaign after an incident in which a Bastrop student was shocked by a school officer and seriously injured.

2.11.14 Reduce CPS caseloads
In an Austin American-Statesman LTE, child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris comments that recent tragedies within Child Protective Services brings to light how inadequate funding prevents caseworkers from receiving proper training, supervision, and reasonable caseloads.

2.9.14 Legislative Leaders Put Key Children's Issues on Interim Agenda
"Interim charges" released by our legislative leaders include issues such as foster care reform, maternal health, public school funding, and juvenile justice. In an op-ed run in the Austin American-Statesman, FW Star-Telegram, and San Antonio Express-News, Peter Clark, communications director for Texans Care, notes the importance of studying children's policy issues to help our state and children reach their full potential.

2.2.14 Young Adults Need Coverage, and Texas Can See That They Get It
Opportunity stands in the way for many former foster youth who need health care. Child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris and mental health policy fellow Clayton Travis highlight several ways our state can do better when it comes to helping insure young adults in an Austin American-Statesman op-ed.

1.20.14 Work Still Remains So All Texans Can Achieve Their Dreams
A growing number of kids in Texas start their lives marred by injustice. In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed, CEO Eileen Garcia describes how effective public policy can level the playing field and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.

1.12.14 CPS' Aim Should Be Doing Right By Every Child
Texas' Child Protective Services agency needs more resources and new approaches to keep all kids safe. In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed, child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris outlines what our state can do to better protect every child from harm.

1.5.14 With Recovery Strong at the Top, Let's Focus on the Rest
While those at the top have largely rebounded from the recession, many families continue to struggle. In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed, early opportunities policy associate Alice Bufkin explains why our public priority needs to be building a post-recession economy that lifts up not just the few, but us all.

1.2.14 New Year Brings Cautious Hope for Mental Health Care
The Texas Legislature made mental health a priority during the 2013 legislative session by increasing the budget for mental health services by roughly $300 million. In a Texas Tribune article, mental health policy associate Josette Saxton describes how additional funds will support programs that help children with mental health needs.

12.29.14 Texas Foster Deaths Hit Grim Record
In response to a fourfold increase in deaths of children in foster care this past fiscal year, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is attempting to redesign the foster care system. Child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris explains that we need to better fund the system, not reinvent it, in an article that ran in the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle.

12.24.13 Lifelong Struggles Facing Texas Foster Kids Who Age Out
Texas Public News Service reached out to Ashley Harris as the year drew to a close to discuss the special circumstances of older youth in the foster care system. Each year, thousands of foster kids leave the system without being adopted, and Ashley reflects on what Texans can do to support youth through this transition.

12.16.13 Reducing the Rank of Uninsured Children in Texas
Clayton Travis, a Hogg Mental Health Policy Fellow at Texans Care, argues that Texas needs to let the health care law work as intended in an Austin American-Statesman op-ed. Travis explains that refusing to expand Medicaid and imposing excessive restrictions on navigators only prevents families and children from getting covered.

12.9.13 Are We Doing Enough to Keep Children Safe?
An Austin American-Statesman op-ed, co-written by several Texans Care staff, argues that we are not doing enough to keep all our children safe from harm. Child Protective Services, Child Care Licensing, and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement need to have better guidelines and standards in place to ensure our state can properly safeguard our children.

12.5.2013 Civil Rights Groups Protest Stun Gun Use on Students
Texans Care for Children was one of seven groups to sign on to a letter urging the state Commission on Law Enforcement to end the use of Tasers, stun guns and pepper spray on students at public schools in Texas.

12.2.13 Childhood Trauma Exacts Long, Expensive Toll
The long lasting personal and societal impacts of childhood adversity are explained in an Austin America-Statesman op-ed, written by mental health policy associate Josette Saxton. By investing in effective prevention efforts we can help combat childhood trauma, an issue at the foundation of many social and health problems Texas faces.

11.25.13 Make Giving to Charity Your New Lifetime Routine
Chris Taylor, board president of Texans Care for Children, co-wrote an Austin American-Statesman op-ed on the long-lasting benefits of giving to charity with MariBen Ramsey, vice president and general counsel of Austin Community Foundation. They explain the significant impact of giving to charity, which promotes person well-being and betters our communities.

11.18.13 Time to Tax that Liquid Candy?
In an op-ed for the Austin American Statesman, health and fitness policy associate Lauren Dimitry examines how levying a fee on sugary drinks can results in health benefits, particularly for children. A penny-per-ounce fee on sugary drinks would lead to saved lives and dollars, and a healthier society overall.

11.11.13 Military Families Have Sacrificed, So Let's Do Our Duty, Too
Josette Saxton and Clayton Travis note in an Austin American-Statesman op-ed that Texas has the largest population of uninsured veterans. Since lawmakers rejected an expansion of Medicaid, about 48,000 veterans and their spouses will have no way of getting covered, a disservice to military families who have done their duty.

11.4.13 Prosperity for Only the Few isn't the Best Texas Can Do
In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed, our CEO Eileen Garcia points out that Texas may be a state of plenty, but to be a state of true prosperity we have to ensure our less fortunate don't get left behind.

10.28.13 Spike in Texas foster deaths triggers safety plan
In response to an alarming spike in the number of deaths due to foster mistreatment, a new safety plan was released by the DFPS. Our child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris blamed chronic underfunding and unmanageable caseworker loads as some of the current failures in the foster care system.

10.25.13 Keeping Foster Kids Safe from Prostitution
A Huffington Post article highlighted a Congressional hearing where legislative solutions to the child welfare system and human trafficking were discussed. Ashley Harris testified that Child Protective Services caseworkers in Texas have a caseload that is nearly twice the recommended number. Additionally, she noted that when she was a caseworker she did not have the skills or training to respond appropriately to incidents of sex trafficking.

10.24.13 Congressional Hearing Targets Failures in Foster Care
Child welfare advocates and U.S. House members from both parties called for reforms to better support victims of sex trafficking who are in the child welfare system. The Texas Tribune interviewed Ashley Harris, our child welfare policy associate and a former CPS caseworker, who testified that Texas' foster care system is plagued by case overload and insufficient training.

10.23.13 Rep. Ted Poe promises steps to protect kids from sex trafficking
The Dallas Morning News reported on a congressional hearing focused on how to help the child welfare system keep foster kids safe from sex trafficking. Our child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris provided testimony, stating that agencies need stronger tools to bolster the emotional health of foster children, so they're less vulnerable.

10.21.13 Safety Net Essential to Texas' Economic Future
Public initiatives are a vital part of what will ensure our community's future stability. In an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman, Alice Bufkin writes that public efforts that address issues like early education, adult education, and food insecurity are critical for breaking the cycle of poverty.

10.14.13 Health, Gym Classes Too Vital for School District to Reduce
In reaction to AISD leaders discussing reductions to health-related graduation requirements, Lauren Dimitry co-authored an Austin American-Statesman op-ed to highlight the importance of health and physical education classes. Lauren noted that students who are well nourished and physically active are better students overall and learning to be active and make healthy choices is a big part of being successful.

10.8.13 Children and Mental Health
Fox 7's Good Day Austin spoke with our mental health policy expert Josette Saxton about children and mental health disorders for National Mental Illness Awareness Week.

10.7.13 How the Children Suffer in Immigration Reform Limbo 
As Congress stalls on immigration reform, a lot of Texas children stand to lose out. Roughly 1 in 7 young Texans has a close family member who is an undocumented immigrant. As Josette Saxton points out in the Austin American-Statesman, there are consequences for the future of Texas if more isn't done to protect these children from trauma and deprivation.

9.30.13 Millions Move Toward a Healthier Texas on Tuesday
Finding health insurance that meets people's needs and also fits their budget gets easier with the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace. Our communications director Christine Sinatra and Enroll America's Mimi Garcia weigh in in the Austin American-Statesman regarding how the Marketplace will work and what it means for kids.

9.23.13 Treating Big Kids as Adults Leads to Big Trouble 
More states are "raising the age" for their adult criminal justice system to keep kids younger than 18 out. Lauren Rose poses the question in the in the Austin American-Statesman: Will Texas, one of the last stragglers, follow suit?

9.19.13 Foster Care Redesign Won't Fix Years of Underfunding
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is attempting to address major issues with foster care by overhauling the foster care system. One such issue is overworked CPS caseworkers. Texans Care for Children was cited in a Burnt Orange Report article stating CPS caseworkers in Texas have more than double the average caseload that is recommended by national experts.

9.18.13 Protecting Kids
In a San Antonio Express-News LTE, our child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris wrote that Texas must seriously commit to protecting our state's foster children. It is crucial that CPS caseworkers be given reasonable caseloads so that they can adequately protect children from abuse and neglect.

9.16.13 Texas Children are Collateral Damage in Budget Wars
Some of Texas' hardest hit by budget sequestration are preschoolers, children in special education clases, and military families. In an Austin American Statesman op-ed, CEO Eileen Garcia calls on congressional leaders to fund education, early learning, and other supports so our nation may more fully realize the potential in our communities.

9.9.13 No Single Pill Cure for Obesity Challenge
Texas has seen a 1.2 percent decline in obesity rates, though nearly two-thirds of the state is still in the unhealthy weight range. To best tackle the problem, partnership is key in improving the health of our communities. Dr. Deanna Hoelscher and health and fitness policy associate Lauren Dimitry note a few examples of successful partnerships in an op-ed published in the Austin American Statesman.

9.8.13 Child Protective Services Launches Foster Care Redesign
The state's child welfare agency is launching a new program called Foster Care Redesign that aims to help children in foster care in Texas. In a KUT News article our child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris expressed her concerns about the program using a single contractor system to help children find a foster home. She explained there is not enough data yet that shows whether or not this method improves outcomes for kids.

9.2.13 Redesign of Foster Care on Its Own Won't Prevent Future Tragedies
A recent tragedy sheds light on the deep cracks in the foundation of our child protection system. Chronic underfunding of services and reliance on private agencies jeopardizes the safety of children in foster care. In an op-ed for the Austin American Statesman child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris explains the need for serious reform to help our most vulnerable children.

8.26.13 Invest in Children's Physical and Mental Health
For struggling students to succeed at school, they need their most basic needs met. That includes support for unmet mental health concerns, basic nutrition and opportunities to exercise, and reasonable approaches to discipline and behavior within schools. Mental health policy associate Josette Saxton, health and fitness policy associate Lauren Dimitry and juvenile justice policy associate Lauren Rose co-author an op-ed published in the Austin American Statesman for back-to-school week.

8.19.13 New Training to Promote Mental Health Intervention
Until recently, talk about mental health policy in Texas was focused on treating serious mental health disorders rather than on assessing disorders before they escalate without treatment, Josette Saxton explained to the Texas Tribune. That changed this legislative session, as noted in the Tribune article for part of its series on ways the session might affect Texans' lives.

8.19.13 Good Health is Good Business
Our board president Chris Taylor explains in an op-ed for the Austin American Statesman why reducing the uninsured population in Texas is good for the economy.

8.12.13 Foster Kids Too Often Are Easy Prey for Traffickers
Six in 10 kids recovered from human trafficking were once in either foster care or a group home, our child welfare policy associate Ashley Harris notes in a column for the Austin American Statesman.

8.5.13 Legislation Keeps Families Together
Mental health policy associate Josette Saxton explains the important progress the legislature made for kids with serious mental illness.

7.29.13 Misleading Trayvon Martin Photos Tell a Lot about the Culture
Photos circulating online, reportedly of Trayvon Martin, show a society that isn't yet safe for every youth. Our CEO Eileen Garcia explains in a point-of-view piece for the Statesman.

7.22.13 Tackling Hunger is Still a Worthy Goal
Ending a battle over food stamps in Congress would help children, families, and local economies, as our health and fitness policy associate Lauren Dimitry explains.

7.15.13 When a Transportation Bill Isn't Just About Transportation
During special sessions of the Texas legislature, the state considered a move that would give highways a priority over other needs. Our CEO Eileen Garcia explained why this is the wrong move for Texas in our weekly column in the Austin American Statesman.

7.24.13 TJJD Weighs Closing Mental Health Unity, Halfway Houses
Legislature this year requires the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to cut $23 million from its budget, and the agency staff has recommended closing the Corsicana unit, a youth detention facility that houses mentally ill juvenile offenders, and two halfway houses. In a Texas Tribune article, our juvenile justice expert Lauren Rose explains why she thinks the shuttering of these facilities should be reconsidered.

7.07.13 Teens, even criminal ones, are not the same as adults
State leaders are proposing "life with the possibility of parole" for 17-year-olds and youth tried as adults. In an op-ed for the Austin American Statesman, our juvenile justice policy expert Lauren Rose explains judges and juries should be able to weigh different factors in sentencing young offenders, as opposed to a "one-size-fits-all sentencing for every youth who commits a capital crime."

6.24.13 Texas Shouldn't Have to Go it Alone on Pre-K
In an op-ed for the Austin American Statesman, our early education policy expert Andrea Brauer explains why Congress should plan for a state-federal partnership to extend pre-K to more children. Preschool's proven long-term effect on closing achievement gaps is a key reason to find a solution that brings affordable, quality pre-K to more kids.

6.24.13 Fewer Uninsured Children in Texas, Survey Shows
For several years, the rate of uninsured kids in Texas has been declining. State leaders' work to improve the systems children rely on to enroll in coverage had a lot to do with this, and access to CHIP and Children's Medicaid was of critical importance, given that families with private coverage lost opportunities to cover their kids during these same years. Lauren Dimitry, Texans Care's health policy associate, spoke to the Austin American Statesman.

6.19.13 Aledo teen accused of killing his mom and sister is in capital murder limbo
The special session of the Texas Legislature is considering sentencing for teens found guilty of capital crimes. Juvenile Justice policy associate Lauren Rose examines the complexities of the issue in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

6.18.13 Lawmakers Ponder Sentencing Fix for Teen Murders
Gov. Rick Perry expanded the agenda of the special session to include legislation establishing a mandatory sentence of life with parole for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder. In a Texas Tribune article, our Juvenile Justice Policy Associate Lauren Rose weighed in, saying juries and judges should be able to consider whether factors such as age, home environment, peer pressure or other influences mean that an offender should receive a lesser sentence than life.

5.28.13 Texas Child Welfare Agency Struggling to Keep Caseworkers
Child Welfare Policy Associate Ashley Harris is also a former Child Protective Services caseworker. She spoke to KUT News about a new report from the Texas State Auditor about high rates of turnover and job vacancies for CPS caseworkers and how high caseloads that get in the way of helping children is part of the problem.

5.17.13 Health Insurance Needs
In an Austin American-Statesman letter to the editor, our Hogg Foundation Mental Health Policy Fellow Clayton Travis explained the need for a Texas health care solution. "Our state can still work with federal authorities to develop a "Texas solution" and accept available dollars so that more than 1 million uninsured Texans get the care and treatment they need," Travis wrote. "Health coverage does improve lives, and, as other research has shown, it saves lives, too."

5.13.13 House Panel OKs Parole After 40 Years for Young Murderers
The Texas Tribune reports that a House panel Monday unanimously approved a measure that would allow defendants younger than 18 to receive life sentences and be eligible for parole after 40 years. Our juvenile justice expert Lauren Rose said that judges making decisions about sentencing "need to take into account all of these different factors. The brain is not fully developed until 25. The trigger mechanism of 'Oh, I shouldn't be doing this' isn't always there."

5.2.13 Garcia: In Case You Haven't Noticed, It's Raining
Our CEO Eileen Garcia writes an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman urging our political leaders to use the resources we have to "stabilize our economy to put Texas on a better path." Neither budget proposals being considered by the current state Legislature cover the basics for our communities and our children, Garcia states, and our schools and hospitals will remain struggling. By restoring 2011 budget cuts and using the rainy day fund Garcia writes, we can meet our state's needs.

4.25.13 Bill Aims to Limit Testing of Preschoolers, Kindergarteners
Senate Bill 1608 would restrict the bubble-in testing that school districts and the Texas Education Agency could require for pre-K and kindergarten students. KUT News quoted our early childhood expert Andrea Brauer, who opposed the bill. Texans Care for Children opposes the bill because it could lead to the less frequent usage of important screenings that help identify developmental delays and disabilities in children, and that, ultimately, isn't good for kids.

4.23.13 Senate Approves Bill Targeting Child Hunger
The Texas Tribune reports that the one in four Texas children who are food insecure could be assured a free meal every school day - breakfast - if a bill approved by the Senate continues to advance. Our health policy expert mentioned another way to provide Texans with access to healthy food. "Support for community gardens and urban agriculture could help more Texans access fruits and vegetables," Dimitry said.

3.13.13 Travis County Could Get Own Youth Lockup
The Austin American Statesman reports legislation would allow Travis County and others across Texas to open their own prisons for teenaged lawbreakers for the first time. Our juvenile justice policy expert Lauren Rose tesified that the local lockups should meet or exceed standards for the state facilities, and that protections in state law for youthful offenders in state-run lockups should also cover those in the local ones.

3.4.13 Views on Medicaid Reform Vary
In light of the Texas Medicaid Matters Advocacy Day, Abilene Reporter-News interviewed our Hogg Academy Mental Health Fellow Clayton Travis about Medicaid expansion. "Medicaid expansion would add 1.3 million Texans to Medicaid," Travis said. Travis noted that those added would gain coverage that would include physical and mental health services.

2.25.13 Perry Ignoring Uncomfortable Pre-K Truths
Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, who spoke to our staff member Kara Johnson, expressed concern in her article about early education in Texas. "It's hard to start a discussion on expanding pre-K or even on strengthening the quality of programs in Texas these days when we are just fighting to get back what we lost last session," Falkenberg said.

2.13.13 Report: Texas Could Save Money by Addressing Children's Needs
The San Antonio-Express News shared findings from Texans Care for Children's 2013 report that found the state could save billions of dollars by putting more children on a path to success through smart policy choices.

2.13.13 Texas Loses Money by Ignoring Children's Needs
The San Antonio Current covered the release of a Texans Care for Children report based on a year-long study. Our CEO Eileen Garcia explains, "what this report makes clear is that the decisions today by the legislature to get more children on the right path -- so children are prepared for school and can grow up healthy, safe, and thriving -- represent a choice to advance our state's prosperity for years to come."

2.11.13 Advocates Call on State to Step Up Efforts to Fight Hunger
The Texas Tribune spoke to Texans Care for Children's health policy advocate Lauren Dimitry about the responsible ways Texas can address hunger while providing nutritious food options for children and families.

2.6.2013 Report: Poor Well-Being of Texas Children Costs an Extra $20 Billion
A KUT News article describes children's policy recommendations made in a newly released Texans Care for Children report. Our CEO Eileen Garcia explains, "we're losing so much potential in our children, and as our report highlights there are real hard financial costs when we don't give children the support they need to grow up successful."

1.27.2013 There's Downside to Schoolhouse Cops
A San Antonio Express-News op-ed written by our juvenile justice expert, Lauren Rose, describes the downside to increasing the presence of police officers in schools. Rose explains, "ticketing by police officers, arrests on campus and discipline practices that remove kids from the classroom instead of keeping them where they learn happen more often with police officers in schools."

1.26.2013 Kids are a Great Investment in Texas
An Austin American-Statesman op-ed written by Texans Care staff explains what Texas can do to provide a brighter future for its 6.6 million children. Investments in health, education, child protection, juvenile justice, and early opportunities can help ensure the Texas of tomorrow will be better than the Texas of today.

1.18.2013 Strama Bill Would Pay Childcare Centers More for High Marks on State Evaluation
Rep. Mark Strama has filed House Bill 376, which aims to provide more funding to an early childhood education certification program called Texas Rising Star. The Texas Observer spoke with Kara Johnson, our early childhood education expert, who said the program is the state's best bet for measuring childcare provider quality.

1.11.2013 Agenda Texas: Funding Pre-School Education
The 83rd Texas State Legislature has more than $101 billion dollars to spend in the next session, according to the state Comptroller Susan Combs, and advocates are speaking up about restoring funds to education programs. KUT News and the Texas Tribune spoke to our early childhood education expert Kara Johnson about the benefits of investing in early childhood education. When you invest in high quality care, the key is high quality, you get a 350 percent return on your investment," said Johnson.



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