Updated: 9/26/2007 9:23 AM
By: Heidi Zhou
Texas' foster care system could be getting a makeover that stresses cooperation between agencies and a more personal touch with kids.
The Texas Supreme Court held a public hearing Tuesday.
Among those to testify was Trista Miller, a former foster child who now works for Child Protection Services.
"I remember a couple of times, coming to court and there would be a judge just now picking up my file for the first time, and knowing that person had the ability to make decisions that affected my entire life," Miller said.
The state is looking into creating a commission to fix help child protection courts better serve children, youth and families in the foster care system.
Its goals are to lessen the workload for case workers, quickly place kids in permanent families and give the whole system a more personal touch.
The lives of about 20,000 foster children in Texas will be affected by Supreme Court's decision. A judge decides where a child will live, with whom and for how long. The new committee will make sure those decisions are responsible.
"You would have the leadership in the community and they'd work with the courts, the Legislature, with the attorney general, whomever we could to improve the state of the system for kids," retired District Court Judge John Specia said.
"We want to build a culture of hope with our children, to let them know that we care about their well-being," 388th District Court Judge Patricia Macias said.
And it's very likely children will be getting that message because the commission is on the brink of approval. Its numerous supporters include the justices themselves.
"To allow the child to have a voice in court, that's one of the key recommendations. Children have a voice in their future," Justice Harriet O'Neill said.
If approved, the commission would be made up of about 20 court-appointed members. It would have oversight of child protection courts and agencies, and be at work by the end of the year.
Emphasis added by H4K Editor