AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation praised the introduction of child welfare reform legislation that would ensure children are not taken away from families simply because the family lives in poverty. 

The Family Poverty Is Not Child Neglect Act introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), bars the use of federal funds to separate families based on poverty alone. The bill clarifies that concerns about a child’s living arrangements and subsistence needs should be addressed through services to the family rather than removal of the child.

“Most families come to the attention of state child welfare authorities because of neglect, not abuse,” said Dr. Brandon Logan, TPPF’s director of the Center for Families & Children. “Neglect includes lack of food, clothing, shelter or medical care – conditions related more to poverty than parental fitness. The state should only get involved when the decisions of parents make great harm likely. This standard protects kids from truly negligent parents while giving parents and kids a chance to thrive.”

The bill is modeled on laws in Texas and 12 other states that specifically exempt financial inability from definitions of neglect. For instance, studies have consistently shown that 30 percent of children in foster care could be returned home if their families only had adequate housing. Under Texas law, failing to provide a child with food, clothing, or shelter is not neglect unless relief services have been offered and refused. The Family Poverty Is Not Child Neglect Act applies that common sense limitation to CAPTA funding requirements for state investigations of child neglect.

Logan also co-chairs United Family Advocates, a nonpartisan coalition of family advocates, which works to change the response of the child welfare system to families in crisis by reforming federal funding requirements for state child welfare investigations.

For more information, please contact Alicia Pierce at apierce@texaspolicy.com or 512-472-2700.    

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin that aims to foster human flourishing by protecting and promoting liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility.

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