The state will take over direct management of the care and service of about 1,100 foster children in the west Texas region after the contractor it had hired canceled its contract.
In a statement issued Friday, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services promised that foster children wouldn't be affected by the withdrawal of Providence Service Corp. of Texas.
The company had been serving state foster children in 60 West Texas counties, including Midland/Odessa, Abilene, San Angelo, Wichita Falls and hundreds of other smaller communities. The company was under a five-year, $30 million-a-year contract that took effect Feb. 1, 2013. However, the company invoked an opt-out clause Friday.
The state recently told Providence of several areas where it had underperformed. "Providence made a good faith effort, but progress was slow," Commissioner of the DFPS, Judge John Specia said, "… we believe this change will enable the state to step back and re-evaluate how we proceed on Foster Care Redesign in this area of the state."
The state’s second redesign contract with ACH Child and Family Services, which began July 1st, remains in effect.
The redesigned system is an attempt to improve conditions for children in foster care. Unlike the current foster care system, where the state contracts with hundreds of providers, the new system would have a single contractor in charge of recruiting and training foster parents as well as developing services and opportunities for foster children.
In theory, this would allow kids in foster care to stay closer to their home communities and be placed with their siblings rather than separated from them.
The state's 17,000-child foster system had been under scrutiny since seven foster children died of abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2013.