Buckner International President and CEO Albert Reyes wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. A member of the Board of Trustees of the Christian Alliance for Orphans and the National Hispanic Leadership Conference and author of The Jesus Agenda and Hope Now, Reyes explains how collaboration between public and private sectors is vital when it comes to the foster care crisis in Texas. But the heart of the issue remains the same: Children need homes, and Texas needs to find a way to fix the problem.
For every complicated situation, there is someone offering a simple solution – and it’s usually wrong.
Every year or two, reports surface of Texas children sleeping in the offices of Child Protective Services or in hotels under CPS supervision. This past March, the number was as high as 237 kids, per the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. There is public outcry and a demand for solutions – and rightfully so – but the challenges of the foster care system are complicated. And so are the solutions.
People want easy and uncomplicated, and because of that, we tend to focus on one aspect of the issue and blame CPS because stories about crises need villains. But where does that get us?
What if we tell the story in a different way? In this new version, we talk about how emotionally and physically drained hundreds of CPS workers are, yet they go above and beyond their job description. They make sure that a lack of foster care placement opportunities across Texas doesn’t prevent these vulnerable teens from having an adult in their lives and a roof over their heads.
In this version, I can see CPS workers waking up at 2 a.m. and driving to the office to relieve their tired colleagues and provide 24-hour supervision for kids who recently experienced some form of trauma severe enough to remove them from their homes.
That’s a different beginning to the story, though the result is still the same. Children need homes, and Texas needs to find a way to fix the problem.
And just like the saying there are two sides to every story, I believe there are at least two sides to every challenge and to every solution. Collaboration between two key sides, the public and private sectors, is vital no matter the challenge our state faces.