New state law will help East Texas foster kids navigate bureaucr - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

New state law will help East Texas foster kids navigate bureaucracy

Thirty thousand foster care children in Texas will soon have a neutral advocate to review their complaints or concerns. (Source: KTRE Staff) Thirty thousand foster care children in Texas will soon have a neutral advocate to review their complaints or concerns. (Source: KTRE Staff)
A foster ombudsman will be hired following a new law that goes into effect September 1. (Source: KTRE Staff) A foster ombudsman will be hired following a new law that goes into effect September 1. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Court Appointed Special Advocates, (CASA) is one child advocacy group that pushed for the new position. (Source: KTRE Staff) Court Appointed Special Advocates, (CASA) is one child advocacy group that pushed for the new position. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Foster children in Deep East Texas and the rest of the state will eventually have a state ombudsman to listen to their complaints or concerns. 

The intent of the new state law that goes into effect September 1 is to help children avoid complicated state bureaucracy. Child advocates are hoping for a good outcome.

Court Appointed Special Advocates, commonly referred to as CASA, pushed for a foster ombudsman for the state's 30,000 foster children. 

"It's another voice for children,” said Tonya Harry, CASA’s Deep East Texas director.

Harry gave a simple explanation. However, the state bureaucracy a child must maneuver through when voicing s complaint is much more complicated. Harry knows. In a previous job she handled complaints for a Child Protective Services office serving eight Deep East Texas counties.

“I do understand some of the things you have to go through to get through to a person in order to be able to speak to them about a concern,” Harry said.

Although it’s challenging for an adult, it’s almost impossible for a child. The new law may make it all easier.

"A call center specifically for foster children that they can call and have another voice,” Harry said. “The ombudsman will make sure the matter is addressed immediately."

Longtime foster child advocate Julia Jones never wastes time to help a child in need.

She's the founder of Impact which provides for children. Jones has seen firsthand foster parents and case workers who don't always do the right thing for the child.

"Yes, yes. If you've been in the system for very long at all at all you know that there's the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Jones said.

Jones supports giving children a neutral advocate, but to make it happen children must “know how to find that person.”

“And that needs to be easy and it needs to be publicized, public information, given to these children, to the child,” Jones said.

A child facing hardships deserves a simple way to make life better.

The state law goes into effect September 1, but the Health and Human Services Commission is still working out details on how to follow it.

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