Attorneys

Skilled panel will tackle Texas foster care disaster, in keeping with new courtroom submitting

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the foster care crisis in Texas grows, state officials and attorneys for children in the system have come to an agreement on the next step toward a solution.

With hundreds of children still sleeping in state CPS offices and hotels, in September a federal judge ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the Health and Human Services Commission and the attorneys involved to sit down and come to an agreement on how to move forward. The move was the latest development in the years-long federal lawsuit against the state over the conditions and treatment of children in its care.

However, court records filed Friday reveal the parties have agreed to appoint three independent, nationally-recognized experts to a panel. The panel will use state data and their own expertise to make “specific, concrete” recommendations for how to address the growing number of children without placement and the lack of available beds to house them.

According to the filing, the plaintiffs will choose one expert, state officials will choose another and the third expert will be chosen by the first two experts.

“Each expert will serve on the Expert Panel in a neutral capacity and not as a representative or as a consultant of any particular party,” the filing read.

The panel will begin work “immediately,” and their recommendations are expected by Dec. 15.

The court records also explain these recommendations are only “advisory,” meaning the state officials named as defendants in this lawsuit are not obligated to implement the suggested changes.

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