On Sept. 1, child welfare services in several north Texas counties began transitioning to a new state foster care model referred to as community-based care.

The gist

Empower, a child welfare collaborative led by Texas Family Initiative, began managing child placement services Sept. 1 after being awarded a community-based care contract earlier this year, according to a news release. Empower will oversee child welfare services in nine counties as part of the Metroplex East region:
  • Collin County
  • Dallas County
  • Ellis County
  • Fannin County
  • Grayson County
  • Hunt County
  • Kaufman County
  • Navarro County
  • Rockwall County
Empower is supported by CK Family Services, Jonathan’s Place, The Blair Foundation and Pathways Youth and Family Services, according to its website.

How we got here

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services awarded a community-based care contract to Empower in February. Empower began working with the department and the Office of Community-Based Care in March to prepare for the transition.

Community-based care is a new model for Texas foster care. Under the new initiative, most Child Protective Services duties will transition to local service networks operated by what is called a single source continuum contractor such as Empower.

The model is being implemented in six other regions throughout the state, according to the department’s website.

The details

Starting Sept. 1, Empower will develop a services network and place children in foster homes or other living arrangements. The first phase will “focus on improving the overall wellbeing of children in foster care and keeping them closer to home and connected to their communities and families,” according to the news release.

“Our organization is committed to providing children with attentive care and a safe environment to ensure their overall wellbeing,” Empower Senior Vice President Linda Garcia said in a statement. “As a lead agency in the [community-based care] model to oversee child placement services, Empower can help children in the Metroplex East region stay connected to their communities and families and experience a permanent and safe environment.”

What’s next

Sept. 1 also marks when Empower will begin preparing for the transition’s second phase, which is scheduled to go live in March. In the second phase, Empower will provide case management, kinship and reunification services.

Empower will also expand services to include assistance for families and increase the number of children and youth who find permanent homes, according to the news release.

“There is a significant need for foster homes in the Metroplex East to provide children with a nurturing environment to impact their overall wellbeing,” Garcia said. “We hope to educate the local communities on the crucial roles foster parents play and provide the resources needed to guide them through the process while also placing children in licensed homes within their community.”

More information about Empower, including how families and individuals can help local children in need, can be found online.