2023 Year in Review: What happened in child welfare

Texas 2036 engaged on child welfare this year primarily through the lens of our January 2023 report on Modernizing Texas’ Child Welfare IT System. Built in 1996 and based on 1993 guidelines, the state’s legacy data system, commonly referred to as IMPACT, is neither federally compliant nor serving the needs of the agency or vulnerable Texas children.

Since 2011, the state has been involved in continuous federal litigation regarding its child welfare services in which our current system was found unconstitutional. The IMPACT data system in particular was called out for causing an “unreasonable risk of harm” for foster youth.

The 88th Legislature took an important step toward updating the IMPACT data system by instructing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to produce a report by December 2024 outlining the steps and funds necessary to replace IMPACT with a modern data system that meets current federal standards.

In case you missed coverage on the report or want to read more about what others have said about the issue, here are some top stories:

Caseworkers hampered by ’90s-era foster care software that the state hasn’t replaced (Texas Tribune, March 22, 2023)

An Outdated Tracking System Is a Key Factor In Texas’ Foster Care Shortcomings (U.S. News & World Report, May 3, 2023)

While there’s been continued coverage on the ongoing lawsuit involving the DFPS, it’s not all bad news in the child welfare space. The Legislature made important investments into kinship care reimbursement, abuse prevention, and early intervention. Check out some child welfare bill highlights from the 88th legislative session:

What bills targeting the Texas foster care system are slated to become law? (KXAN-TV, June 16, 2023)

Read more: