El Paso begins training for new privatized foster care program

Luisa Torres talks about her experiences with foster care.

Luisa Torres has been in and out of foster care in El Paso since she was 14.

"When I first got into the system, it was kind of tough," Torres said.

Texas has been trying to fix the system for quite a while.

"The evidence is that there have been problems,” Richard Salcido, executive director of Family Services of El Paso, said.

Family Services of El Paso, a local foster care organization, has been tasked with bringing change to the foster care system in a new way.

"Our program is going to send caseworkers into the families' homes and to work with them and help them meet their needs and help ensure the safety of the children,” Salcido said.

The state created the pilot program with Pathway Youth and Family Services in January. Salcido said 23 people began their training for the program on Monday.

"What goes on right now is that the state is providing the service, so it's difficult for the state to put pressure on itself to perform better,” Salcido said. “When they contract with somebody, it makes it easier for the state to put pressure on the private contractor to perform better."

Veronica Lowenberg was the program director of foster care for the Center For Children in El Paso. She hopes this and other changes can happen to make things better for children such as Luisa.

"The system can get better for the kids by having more people in the community aware of what's going on and willing to work with those kids,” Lowneberg said.

"They should just, like, focus on actually to try and help them,” Torres said. “Figure out what they really need and hear them out, don't just think they are bad kids."

According to Salcido and Child Protective Services in El Paso County, the program is scheduled to go online on March 1.

Salcido said he doesn’t anticipate any delays.

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