Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The darker side of privatized case management

Yesterday the House passed CSSB 6 to engrossment by a 126-16 vote and will vote it out to the Senate in the coming days.

Dallas Morning News reported on Saturday the darker side of case management: "Private contractors that handle three-fourths of Texas' foster care have placed children with foster parents who later abused, molested or neglected them or even disappeared with kids in their care, records reveal."

Jack Downey, president and CEO of the Children's Shelter in San Antonio, made the case for privatization by saying: " Any businessperson knows the most expensive resource is people. By eliminating many caseworkers from the state rolls, more than $900 million could be saved." Okay, I understand that you're trying to save the state money, but who says that the private sector will ensure that enough caseworkers are hired? If non-profits are worried most about their bottom line, as Downey alludes to, then who says that caseworkers won't be more overworked and overburdened than they are now?

CSSB 6 would add 848 new case investigators by 2007 and add $250 million to the agency's budget, so my fear is that any improvements through privatization of these services will be attributed to privatization, not the added money and personnel by the state. I thought privatization was supposed to save the state money, not cost it money.

The House responded yesterday not by slowing privatization, which will completely privatize CPS over the next 6 years (except the initial case investigations) - affecting 26,000 foster children, but by passing an amendment ensuring that gay people can't step in as trustworthy foster parents. Makes sense: foster children need foster parents, so bar those eager to fill the needed role. Congratulations Talton for showing your hateful side at every chance you get.


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