SB 44 Needs Assessment: Examining the relinquishment of children with serious emotional disturbances
Roughly 5% of children are classified as having a serious emotional disturbance. Children with a serious emotional disturbance may require extensive and costly medical, behavioral and educational supports. For many families, appropriate resources are difficult to locate and afford. Although exact numbers are not known, anecdotal evidence suggests that some families seek and/or are advised on relinquishment of children to the foster care system in order to obtain mental health care for their child.
In Texas, entry into the foster care system requires there to be maltreatment of the child by a caregiver. Thus, some parents face a very difficult dilemma in attempting to find help for their child. Given this dilemma and anecdotes from families, the 83rd Texas Legislature required DFPS and DSHS to produce a study to develop recommendations to prevent parents from relinquishing custody and care of a child with a serious emotional disturbance.
In order to study this issue, a joint committee from DFPS and DSHS recommended contracting with an independent researcher. The research team at the Child and Family Research Institute at The University of Texas at Austin conducted a needs assessment of families in Texas.
Faulkner, M., Gerlach, B., Marra, L., Gomez, R. & Schwab, J. (2014). SB 44 Needs Assessment: Examining the relinquishment of children with serious emotional disturbances. Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin, Child and Family Research Institute.