Attorney General Ken Paxton today said the oral arguments the lawyers from his office presented before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit make him optimistic Texas will prevail in its fight to preserve landmark changes to the state’s foster care system that were enacted by the Legislature in 2017.
In January, the U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi ordered two court-appointed special masters to oversee the Texas foster care system for three years. The two masters spent two years and $1.4 million taxpayer dollars, only to produce a plan that fails to improve the realistic operations of the foster care system and causes actual harm to current families, Attorney General Paxton’s legal team told the 5th Circuit.
“We successfully demonstrated the absurdity of the lower court’s ruling to the 5th Circuit. The ruling was arrived at by an unelected federal judge who misapplied the law, hijacked control of our state’s foster care system, and ordered an ill-conceived plan by the special masters that is both incomplete and impractical,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The directives from the lower court would reverse the progress Texas has made since the Legislature made reforms to the foster care system last year. Responsibility for determining policy priorities and implementing best practices lies with the legislative and executive branches of government. I’m optimistic that the 5th Circuit will recognize that and correct the lower court’s error.”
Among other issues, the special masters’ plan would cap the number of children currently in foster homes and potentially uproot them from their placements. Foster homes would have to decide which children should be uprooted from their homes. Case workers would also be overburdened with administrative work rather than maintaining their focus on providing care to children in the Texas foster care system.