A 3-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy were found tied up in a backyard last year in San Antonio. Investigators later said that the abuse had gone on for months.
The children were removed from their mother's custody and are now in the care of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. It’s a system that, many argue, needs vast improvement.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided the need was so bad, he put an overhaul of the system on his emergency list. On Wednesday, state lawmakers debated and voted on several measures.
The senate approved Senate Bill 11, which would create a community-based care program in which the department contracts with local non-profits to handle cases.
In the Texas House, representatives voted yes on House Bill 4, a bill Child Advocates of San Antonio supports, according to CASA President and CEO Rick Cooke. The bill would allow the State of Texas to pay family members who become foster parents the monthly stipend of $500 to 800 a child per month.
Right now, only foster parents who aren't related to the children are given the stipend.
“This is really good thing for the kids,” Cooke said. “Rather than going with a family they don't know, this could be an aunt and uncle, a grandparent, but it's family. Sometimes what happens is that the families can't afford to take all the kids in if they have a family of four or five kids.”
The house also passed House Bill 5, which would make the Department of Family and Protective Services a standalone agency.
All three of those bill have only made it past one chamber. They must get approval from the other chamber and be signed by the governor before they can become law.