June 27, 2023

An Investment in Hope For Children in Foster Care

By Shellie Velasco, Program Officer

God’s heart for children is evident throughout Scripture. Psalm 127:3 tells us children are a gift and reward from the Lord. In Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18, we read an account of Jesus welcoming children as He placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.

We know God’s best involves children growing up in safe, healthy families. With this at the forefront of our minds and hearts, The Rees-Jones Foundation remains committed to supporting organizations that are caring for children who have experienced maltreatment and those who are working upstream to help prevent children from becoming at risk of harm. We know that some children must be removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, but that does not have to be the end of their story. This is where child substitute care comes in.

According to the state of Texas, “substitute care is provided from the time a child is removed from his or her home and placed in child protective services (CPS) conservatorship until the child returns home safely or is placed in another living arrangement that does not require CPS supervision.” Children who require substitute care due to abuse or neglect deserve quality, compassionate support. An ecosystem of individuals and agencies has proved to be a quality solution for children’s safety, medical, behavioral health, social, educational and spiritual needs to be met.

One such organization playing an important role for children in the child welfare system is the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence at Children’s Health. The Rees-Jones Center brings together medical and behavioral health experts to provide integrated pediatric primary care for children, allowing a child’s caregiver to see multiple providers in one location to provide better care coordination. Alongside pediatricians and nurse practitioners, therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists are addressing mental health needs of children and teens. Through their work, children have an opportunity to find healing and receive tools to move forward in living healthy, thriving lives.

The team at the Rees-Jones Center understands the dynamics of child abuse and neglect and is able to provide individualized care for each child coming to one of two clinic locations in Dallas and Plano. With Child Protective Liaisons embedded in the team, providers working with children can better coordinate with professionals responsible for the safety of each child.

Historically, the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence has provided medical and therapeutic services for children in foster care – whether children are in a traditional foster care setting, placed with relatives, or are in a residential treatment center. In 2022, the Rees-Jones Center expanded their primary medical services to include children who have been adopted out of foster care, children who return home to their biological families from foster care, and children in families receiving services from Child Protective Services when no removal has taken place. The team at the Rees-Jones Center understands children’s medical and behavioral health needs continue even when they are no longer in the foster care system.

Two decades ago, I was on staff at a child-placing agency in North Texas serving children in foster care. I saw firsthand how complicated systems can be for foster and biological families trying to access services for their children. Navigating through the phone calls, the connections, the lists of services was difficult even as a fully trained practitioner, so it is easy for me to admire the Rees-Jones Center’s innovative work. They have made substantial efforts to help improve the lives of patients in their care, but have also sought to improve wider-level systems across the state. The Rees-Jones Foundation is grateful to partner with the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence at Children’s Health and many other organizations giving high-quality care to children impacted by the child welfare system. We believe all children deserve a bright future and applaud these organizations who are truly bringing hope to children across North Texas.

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