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Outcome: Socially and Emotionally Healthy and Safe

Children and Youth In Substitute Care

2015, 1,678 children in Travis County lived in substitute care, equal to about 6 per 1,000 children under 18

Significance of indicator: Children and youth who have experienced maltreatment are sometimes placed in substitute care when they cannot be cared for by their primary caregivers.

what the data tell us

In 2015, the rate of children who are placed in substitute care outside of their home increased slightly. From 2007 to 2010 the rate had been in decline, before leveling-off through 2014. Since 2008, Travis County has had a lower rate of children living in substitute care than the state as a whole. Children in substitute care are the legal responsibility of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and have been placed outside of the home. In 2014, 1,678 children and youth in Travis County and 46, 054 children in Texas were living in substitute care.

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Definition: Children and Youth who are the legal responsibility of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services who are removed and placed outside their own home per 1,000 children under 18

Data Source: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Annual Data Book

Data Considerations: Substitute care includes foster homes, institutions, foster group homes, residential treatment facilities, hospitals, adoptive homes, juvenile facilities, kinship care placements, and independent living arrangements. Foster care is a subset of substitute care. This figure also includes a small number of youth between the ages of 18 and 22. These youth have aged out of DFPS’ legal responsibility, but may remain in foster care until they complete vocational training (by age 19) or high school (by age 22).

the story behind the indicator

Children who cannot remain in their own homes due to maltreatment following an investigation by the Department of Family and Protective Services may be removed and placed in substitute care. This includes foster homes, institutions, foster group homes, residential treatment facilities, hospitals, adoptive homes, juvenile facilities, kinship care placements, and independent living arrangements.

The rate of children who are placed in substitute care outside of their home declined from 2007 to 2010 before leveling-off through 2014. Since 2008, Travis County has had a lower rate of children living in substitute care than the state as a whole. Reductions in substitute care placements may result from a variety of factors, including lower rates of maltreatment, increased use of family-based services, or a greater number of maltreated children being successfully re-integrated into their homes.

Although placement in a stable, permanent home is the goal of the Department of Family and Protective Services, some youth remain in substitute care until they ‘age out’ of foster care and transition to independent living. According to research cited by Texans Care for Children, youth aging-out of foster care experience a number of negative outcomes, including poor employment outcomes, low incomes, homelessness, poor mental health, and higher rates of incarceration.

a closer look at the story behind the indicator

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Children and Youth in Substitute Care, by County

Bastrop and Caldwell Counties have a higher share of their child populations living in substitute care than the state of Texas and other local counties. A lower share of children live in substitute care in Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties than in the state as a whole. Nevertheless, Travis County, the most populous local county, has the highest number of children living in substitute care– 1,678.

Click on this graph to download an excel workbook with expanded information

Definition: Children and Youth who are the legal responsibility of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services who are removed and placed outside their own home per 1,000 children under 18

Data Source: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Annual Data Book

Data Considerations: Substitute care includes foster homes, institutions, foster group homes, residential treatment facilities, hospitals, adoptive homes, juvenile facilities, kinship care placements, and independent living arrangements. Foster care is a subset of substitute care. This figure also includes a small number of youth between the ages of 18 and 22. These youth have aged out of DFPS’ legal responsibility, but may remain in foster care until they complete vocational training (by age 19) or high school (by age 22).

Child Removals, by Race and Ethnicity, Travis County

African-American children are more likely than children of other races and ethnicities to be removed from their home by Child Protective Services, although this rate declined from 2011 to 2014, it increased in the last year. In 2015, 9.7 African-American children per 1,000 children were removed from their home, compared to 1.3 Anglo children per 1,000, 2.7 Hispanic children per 1,000, and 2.9 children of another race not shown on the graph per 1,000.Since 2009, the share of Hispanic children removed from their homes has increased, from 1.9 per 1,000 children to 2.7 per 1,000 children.

Click on this graph to download an excel workbook with expanded information

Definition: Rate of removals of children from their homes, by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, by race and ethnicity, per 1,000 children under 18

Data Source: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Annual Data Book

Data Considerations: Data includes estimates from all stages of DFPS service delivery.

some local efforts to improve this indicator

Foster care redesign

Recommendations from a representative group of child welfare stakeholders in Texas are being implemented for a redesigned foster care system. They are focused on improving outcomes for children and families, including permanency outcomes. The quality indicators used as a foundation for the development of the redesign include many that will contribute to moving children through the system to permanency at a quicker pace.  Children placed in their home communities, who live in a least restrictive environment supported by minimal moves, and maintain connections to family and other important people in the children's lives are less likely to continue to move through the system.  For more information about the redesign, visit: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_Foster_Care/Foster_Care_Redesign/

Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development initiated a partnership with Mission Capital and other local nonprofits, funders, community activists and government agencies to lead a project aimed at improving our foster care system. The Travis County Collaborative for Children (TCCC) is an intensive, multi-year, multi-partner, multi-million-dollar initiative aimed at transforming the model of care for foster children and dramatically improving their lives.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Travis County

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Travis County believes every child who's been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in the community. To accomplish this, CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who ensure each child's needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system. When the state steps in to protect a child's safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what's best for the child. CASA is the only child advocacy group working in the court system that provides a caring, consistent adult focused on the well-being of a single child. For more information, visit: casatravis.org

Substitute care placements in Austin/Travis County

There are multiple substitute care agencies in Austin/Travis County. Below is a list of some agencies and their websites where additional information can be obtained.

contributors

Dr. Monica Faulkner, Child and Family Research Institute at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin contributed to the development of this page.