Three boys walk through the Children's Shelter property.
Three boys walk to the playground at The Children's Shelter of San Antonio. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has awarded The Children’s Shelter of San Antonio the regional contract to provide foster care and case management services to children who enter state care in Bexar County, the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

Family Tapestry, the division of The Children’s Shelter receiving the contract, will take over the role of provider from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), a move that local advocates say will better serve local children and families. Under the contract beginning Feb. 1, Family Tapestry will receive from $45 to $188 daily per child, depending on the level of care needed.

The Children's Shelter President and CEO Annette Rodriguez.
The Children’s Shelter President and CEO Annette Rodriguez. Credit: Scott Ball / Rivard Report

“The state recognizes that each community is unique and can leverage its strengths to improve the system of care” for foster children, said Annette Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Children’s Shelter. “We will be assuming in stages the role of DFPS and subcontract to provide all services needed for the community.”

In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a series of reform measures aimed at fixing the foster care system, which a federal judge ruled unconstitutional in 2015, saying children “often age out of care more damaged than when they entered.”

Before Family Tapestry received the community-based care contract, children removed from caregivers and unable to stay with a friend or relative were placed in either a private or group home based on available space or the willingness of a family or organization to house them. As a result, up to 40 percent of Bexar County children had to be placed outside the county, Rodriguez said.

Retired Bexar County District Judge John Specia, a former DFPS commissioner, said there are more than 350 foster care contracts throughout the state, with little to no coordination among providers, leading to inefficient services and use of resources. Because care providers can opt to reject children for placement, case managers look for housing outside of Bexar County, he said.

With Family Tapestry serving as the local foster care contract administrator, when a child enters into state care, they will be referred to services locally, and case managers coordinate only with local providers whose main goal is family reunification, Specia said.

“The current foster care system is not working to the benefit of many children,” Specia said. “Our models need to evolve. Community-based care gives us the opportunity to change rapidly but will take us working harder and closer together than ever before.”

The Children’s Shelter, which has been providing services to neglected and abandoned San Antonio children since 1901, recently added housing and mental health services for children and families, and programs to promote safety, emotional well-being, and positive parenting.

Click through the gallery below to see images of The Children’s Shelter facilities.

In July, Bexar County housed 1,951 of the state’s 16,995 foster care youth in private foster homes, group homes, emergency shelters, and residential treatment centers, according to DFPS.

Over the next year, Family Tapestry will work with DFPS to organize and transition county foster care services and institute policies to ensure compliance with state law. The contract was made possible by $7.28 million in donations from organizations including the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, Najim Family Foundation, and the Tobin Endowment, who helped fund expanded services to include 71 new personnel positions.

“Change was needed, and turning to outside nonprofit organizations to do these tasks is a very smart thing to do,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. “I want to do everything I can to help” the program succeed.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the Rivard Report.