AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A Texas Department of Family and Protective Services report released late last month shows since 2020, more than 100 children have died in the state’s foster care system. This is something activists call an ongoing crisis, as they feel the state continues to fail children in the system.
“All I have is a picture, and I asked for help,” grandmother Mikisha Bridgewater said, showing pictures of a small child with bruises.
Bridgewater and Sarah Alonso both came to the Texas State Capitol on Thursday to tell their stories.
“A little 3 year old that lost her life cause nobody wanted to listen,” Bridgewater said.
Bridgewater said her granddaughter died, abused by her daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend. According to her, Child Protective Services never took her out of the home.
Alonso, too, feels she’s been failed by Texas’ system.
“I was sexually touched while I was in the system, and I tried to tell my foster parents, and they wouldn’t listen to me,” Alonso said.
Dr. Candice Matthews, an activist, accuses the state of not doing enough.
“The hammer of accountability is here,” Matthews said. “The age of tyranny to Texas families is over, and I don’t care if I got to come and clean everybody’s office out to get you from damaging our children. So, CPS and Residential Childcare Licensing, the hammer has spoken.”
Matthews feels minority children in particular need more support but said there’s a systemic issue with minority providers having a harder time.
“You are not regulating the providers fairly across the board,” Matthews said. “And who fails in the end? The children.”
Matthews is on a DFPS committee and took her concerns to a public meeting Thursday.
“The alliance has heard that anecdotally from some of our providers,” Chief Executive Officer of Texas Alliance Kate Olsen said. She’s also a committee member. “So, we are just in the beginning stages of researching that to see if there is disparity or equity.”
Committee member and Commissioner of DFPS Jaime Masters said they wouldn’t blatantly allow unfair treatment to happen.
“To say that there’s anything like that going on that anyone is aware of would be shameful, obviously,” Masters said.
Families who still deal with trauma hope changes come sooner rather than later.
During the DFPS advisory committee meeting on Thursday, a DFPS representative addressed they were looking to other states to come up with best practices to work toward improvements.