Texas' call for churches to help CPS leaves some cautious

Updated: Jan. 25, 2017 at 9:18 PM CST
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Tony Black (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Tony Black (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Father Tim Kelly (Source: KLTV News Staff)
Father Tim Kelly (Source: KLTV News Staff)

WHITEHOUSE, TX (KLTV) - Churches in Texas are being asked to help the state's foster care system.

In joint letter released earlier this month, Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott called for faith-based help saying, "Sometimes it takes a congregation to raise a child."

As the need for children to be adopted out of foster care grows, one East Texas pastor hopes the state won't try to shift the burden on to the churches.

Father Tim Kelly of Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Flint says he's cautiously optimistic about the state's call for church help in the foster care system.

"I hope we're not going to be used to reduce the budgets. The state of Texas has the first responsibility, but I think we have to be careful rather not to do the state's work for it," says Kelly.

Kelly's example is a foster parent he says he's helping because of state financial issues.

"I'm blessed to be able to afford to do that, but it's not good enough that when the state of Texas uses up all its budget, that the children have to suffer," says Kelly.

It's a scenario of too many kids in a strained system that Tony Black with First Baptist Church in Whitehouse says they're trying to prevent by providing beds to CPS.

"To the tune of 130 plus [beds] in the last year," says Black.

Black says the beds are a way of trying to stop the flow of kids into foster care.

"Through this process, we've been able to keep kids in their own home, or closer to their home, like at grandma's, or aunt, or uncle," says Black.

The churches are helping through a system called Care Portal which allows CPS to post their needs.

CPS Program Director Lori Sutton White says it's voluntary and they aren't trying to overburden any churches with their requests.

"And we just encourage them to talk with us about what they feel like they may be able to do," says Sutton-White.

In the end, Father Kelly says they would help if called upon.

"I think it's a very good initiative, but again I warn that professionalism must be used here and you can't use faith based institutions as a kind of a sponge to soak up some of the money that the state needs to spend on its people," says Kelly.

His hope is that the main message of care stays open for families.

CPS says there are around ten churches in East Texas signed up on the care portal system to help them meet needs.

Click here to find out how your church can help.

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