TRAVIS COUNTY COLLABORATIVE FOR CHILDREN
Our foster care system is broken. Children who are removed from an abusive family spend an average of three years in foster care before being adopted. During that time, they experience an average of three different placements. For children who remain in foster care until they age-out, the outlook is worse.
IMPROVING THE WELFARE SYSTEM FOR AUSTIN-AREA FOSTER CHILDREN
Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are kids in the foster care system. Children who are removed from an abusive family in Travis County spend an average of three years in foster care and change homes an average of three times before being adopted. A foster child’s chance for healing and hope diminishes with each year in care and each change in placement. Those who age out of foster care are more likely to drop out of high school, less likely to hold down a job and are at higher risk of continuing the cycle of abuse and neglect.
In order to improve the lives of thousands of children in foster care, Mission Capital is providing strategic guidance to the Travis County Collaborative for Children (TCCC), an intensive, multi-year, multi-partner, multi-million-dollar initiative aimed at dramatically improving the model of care for foster children. Through the TCCC, Mission Capital engages stakeholders and community partners, provides strategic guidance and advice, and builds the network of individuals and organizations that form the foundation of this important work.
Since the beginning of the collaborative in 2014, TCU Institute for Child Development has trained over 1,000 people representing 100+ organizations in Central Texas. Professionals representing child protective services, the courts, law enforcement, child welfare services, child and family advocates, educators, health care providers and faith communities, have learned how to implement Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), an evidence-based model of care for working with children who have experienced trauma. As a result of this training, the adults working with children in foster care are speaking the same language, making decisions that are truly in the best interest of the child, and implementing policies and practices that disrupt the cycle of trauma and create space for healing.
“Now, when we meet a kid with trauma as part of their history, we see hope. When we see families struggling to set boundaries for their children, we know we have real, practical advice to offer. We feel that the doors have been opened wide…and we can have a real and positive impact in the lives of future kids that come through our doors.”
-Janice and Brandon Reyes, Foster/Adoptive Parents and Mentors for Fostering Hope Austin
True change in the child welfare system will take more than training, it will also require engaging and recruiting more foster families and volunteers to care and advocate for children who have been removed from their homes. Based on data collected in a Foster Family Gap Analysis conducted by Mission Capital in 2016, 30% of the children removed from their home in Central Texas are living outside of Travis or the contiguous counties. Children placed farther away are more likely to be in care longer, experience more disruptions, and need higher levels of care. To address this challenge Mission Capital, with support from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, is working with the partners and affiliates of the TCCC to launch a collaborative grassroots community engagement strategy designed to increase the number of people who say yes to fostering, adopting, and supporting children and families in Central Texas.
By combining the distribution and use of evidence-based, truly trauma-informed tools and practices through TBRI with a strong community engagement and recruitment strategy, the TCCC is focused on achieving three key goals:
- Children will be in foster care no longer than 2 years
- Children will experience no more than 2 placements during their time in foster care
- There will be a healing placement available in Central Texas for every child who needs a foster placement
“TCCC is a real-life example of how it takes a village to raise a child. With Mission Capital helping keep our group focused and forward-thinking, the collaborative has brought together people from throughout our Travis County ‘village’ all with a common agenda.”
– Honorable Darlene Byrne, President of the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and presiding judge of the 126th Judicial District Court.
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