You might have heard about the recent bad news for trans kids in Texas. The state’s governor, Greg Abbott—on top of recently bussing asylum seekers to Washington, D.C., in a callous PR stunt—has directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct child abuse investigations of parents who give medically necessary gender-affirming care to their trans children.
“The cruelty is the point,” as was often said about Donald Trump’s similar bigoted actions. The other point is to fire up Texas republicans for the midterm elections.
But I’m here to bring good news—because we all need some these days. Last week, Nebraska lawmakers voted to end the state’s decade-long experiment with the privatization of child welfare case management services.
It’s about time. The contractor handling case management had severely mismanaged the program. They had underbid their proposal, forcing the state to provide $147 million in emergency funding after the contract was signed. An unacceptable portion of the contractor’s cases—16 percent—failed to provide face-to-face contact among families, children, and a counselor.
But the reason this is really good news is that it’s not about one contractor (that’s why I’m not even mentioning their name). The new law outright bans future privatization of child welfare case management. This means no corporation or even nonprofit organization will be able to cut corners and profit from public dollars meant for foster kids.
As Allison Derr, child welfare attorney with Nebraska Appleseed, told reporters, “There’s [now] not a risk of someone else … coming in and underbidding or underfunding their contract and having these risks go on in the future.”
Back in 2016, we studied how privatization increases inequality across a number of public services and found that the “introduction of private interests into child welfare services has had a profoundly negative and sometimes even deadly impact on the most vulnerable of kids.”
Nebraska’s move is a desperately needed step in the right direction. If only leaders in Texas, which is currently privatizing its foster system, would stop playing politics and do the right thing.
Photo by sam deng.