According to 2022 data released by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services in February, Montgomery County recorded the lowest number of children placed in foster care in 10 years following a number of statewide and local measures focused on quality of foster care and proper placements.

According to the Feb. 28 report from DFPS, the Houston region has the fourth-highest rate of foster child placements in the state, with 4,967 as of 2022. However, the report shows a decrease since 2018, when it recorded the second-highest rate with 8,134 foster children in state care.

The number of foster children in state care in Montgomery County has fallen to 518, which is also a 10-year low.

Leshia Fisher, Child Protective Services Region 6 director who oversees operations in Harris County and the surrounding 12-county area, said she believes the decrease is a result of alternative response programs implemented in 2021.

“Alternative response lets child protective investigations handle cases of abuse or neglect that initially present with less immediate safety or risk issues in a more flexible way—engaging families while still focusing on the safety of the children,” Fisher said.

Another component to the alternative response program is providing more education in trauma-informed care, which Fisher said has been a collaborative effort between CPS, Court Appointed Special Advocates and courts to identify problem areas in investigations.

“When the courts and caregivers use an evidence-based philosophy, it helps to improve the outcomes that you’re looking for,” Fisher said.

Local agencies such as CASA are court-appointed advocates which work with children to ensure they have voices in the legal process, while other Montgomery County agencies such as Hope’s Path offer post-foster care support to children who have aged out of the system without support.

“More collaboration between parenting groups, the juvenile court systems and school districts helps ensure positive outcomes are available for our children,” Fisher said.

However, Ann Marie Ronsman, president of CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County, said she believes the drop in cases is due to legislative changes. For example, House Bill 567, which was signed into law in 2021, raised the threshold for neglect requiring removal of children from homes.

“The change in the Legislature has raised the requirements for removing children from the home, and so we have been increasing education with our community partners for identifying and helping children who may be in those situations,” Ronsman said.

However, Fisher said efforts to place children with other family members has allowed the agency to ensure quality of care while decreasing the number of children in foster homes. Local agencies focused on providing community-based care are still seeing increased needs, but are fostering more collaboration between local communities to provide care.

“This is allowing the community to come together, and instead of the state being the parents, the communities are able to come together and meet the needs,” said Debi Tengler, chief relations officer for Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

Local resources

Several organizations provide support for foster children and families navigating the court system.

Angel Reach

Angel Reach is a faith-based nonprofit organization that works with young adults ages 16-24 who have aged out of the foster •care systemArrow Child & Family Ministries

The nonprofit organization is funded in part by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County

CASA are court-appointed advocates who work with children to ensure they have voices in the legal process.Hope’s Path

Hope’s Path offers post-foster care support to children who have aged out of the system.
  • 28918 S. Plum Creek Drive, Spring
  • 281-465-8121