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Community-Based Foster Care Expands in South Texas
Texas state authorities on child care are describing the establishment of the Belong agency as a leap forward toward expansion of Community-Based Care (CBC).
On October 27, Belong – a division of SJRC Texas (formerly known as St. Jude’s Ranch for Children) – began serving foster children and their families as the first private foster care contractor for 27 counties surrounding Bexar County.
The Belong agency’s coverage area reaches north to south from Gillespie County to La Salle and east to west from Calhoun on the Gulf Coast to Val Verde along the Rio Grande.
“This is an exciting step for South Texas as we continue to expand CBC statewide,” said Trisha Thomas, director of the Office of CBC Transition. “Every child in foster care is as unique as the community to which they belong. With the support and oversight of the state, communities are best situated to provide their children with the housing, care and treatment they need while maintaining their ties to home and family.”
Belong becomes the fourth CBC contractor in Texas, with four more contracts in the planning stages as Texas pursues CBC implementation in all 254 counties.
Traditionally, when a judge orders a child placed in foster care, Child Protective Services (CPS) is responsible for finding a foster home or other living arrangement for that child and ensuring adequate capacity for other foster children.
In the CBC model, Belong – not CPS – will be responsible in the 27-county area for finding foster homes and other suitable living arrangements for foster children and youth.
Belong has had a six-month start-up and transition period in coordination with CPS to prepare for the launch.
“We are thrilled to launch our community-based care program in rural Texas through our division Belong,” CEO of SJRC Texas and Belong Tara Roussett said. “Together, we will build a better tomorrow for children and families by leveraging our amazing network of providers in collaboration with our solid DFPS partnership. Our dedicated and service-driven Belong team looks forward to a successful rollout as we work cohesively with each community, providers, stakeholders and DFPS to make a profound impact on future generations.”
SJRC Texas has been a foster care provider in Texas for almost 40 years, currently operating a residential facility, child placing agency and prevention programs with offices in San Antonio, Bulverde and New Braunfels.