Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has announced a new initiative to harness the power of the faith-based community in helping the state address the child welfare missteps that landed it on the losing end of a class-action lawsuit this year.
Child welfare advocates in the state have rightly pointed out that this initiative is but a branch on the larger tree of reform here. The road to reform is going to lie through a serious reconsideration of the state’s systemic response to child welfare. The church isn’t going to manage case work better or provide mental health services.
But Patrick is absolutely correct to tap into that community, and his 28-point list notes some very intense and simple ways that can happen. Youth Services Insider would also suggest that he, or someone at the Department of Family and Protective Services, give these two national organizations a jingle:
Project 1.27 is a Colorado-based organization that helps churches recruit, train, and support foster and adoptive parents. It credits 330 adoptions and close to 800 foster homes to its recruitment efforts in Colorado.
Since 2011, Project 1.27 has set up affiliate organizations in six states – Louisiana, Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas, New York and Arizona – and Washington, D.C.
Safe Families for Children
The D.C. affiliate of Project 1:27, DC127, has expanded its scope to include homes that help parents who are fearful of future involvement in the child welfare system.
For this, the organization adapted the model of Safe Families for Children, another faith-based entity expanding its reach in child welfare.
The rise of Safe Families was catapulted by a 2009 feature by Katie Couric and CBS News, with a follow-up piece in 2010. The organization now counts 108 U.S. sites among its affiliates, and has ambitions to recruit 100,000 new “host homes” by 2018.
Click here to read more about both organizations. Neither have a presence in Texas, at the moment.