Lawmakers Torn over Foster Care Privatization

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The deaths of three children in foster homes run by private agencies have Texas lawmakers reviewing the outsourcing care of abused and neglected youngsters.

Senators yesterday discussed a bill that would scale back a privatization plan they approved two years ago.

Senator Jane Nelson of Lewisville chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Nelson says she's gone back and forth and questioned and has such mixed emotions.

A compromise Nelson unveiled would scale back the privatization experiment to a small pilot and keep state caseworkers involved in decisions about placements and service plans.

Her bill also calls for stricter supervision of foster homes and the hiring of specialists to monitor foster care placement agencies for possible safety problems.

Private groups already recruit and manage about 80 percent of Texas foster homes.