Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Quanell X condemns alleged sexual exploitation of children in DFPS care by foster care system employees – KPRC Click2Houston

Erica Ponder, Digital Content Producer
Published: March 15, 2022, 9:30 AM
Updated: March 15, 2022, 6:15 PM
Erica Ponder, Digital Content Producer
HOUSTON – The Rainbow PUSH Coalition called out the state-financed foster care system Tuesday, saying kids in their care are being sexually exploited by employees.
This includes a facility in Bastrop, where a now-former employee is accused of taking photos of young girls and selling them.
Advocates for sex trafficking survivors spoke publicly on Tuesday in Houston, condemning claims of abuse and exploitation at the Refuge Ranch facility in Bastrop.
They also issued an emergency call for action, calling for the resignation of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“All of the leadership involved needs to have a reason to believe charges on them because you all perpetuated for children to be revictimized, and these are the same children we are supposed to protect,” said Dr. Candice Matthews of The Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
One staff member was reportedly fired and is under investigation.
A court document detailed how a former employee, who was working at the ranch at the time, allegedly sold photos of two youths in their care, then used the money to buy illegal drugs and alcohol to give to them.
“As someone who’s worked the last 10 years to make big policy changes to really help the victims and advocate for more money, it really infuriates me that we are where we are today because this is the worst thing that could have happened,” said State Senator Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston.
Senator Huffman sits on a special bi-partisan committee on Children’s Protective Services, which was assembled last week by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
“I know there’s been a call for a change of leadership, but I think it’s fair to listen to the leaders to see what they’ve done, and perhaps, what they can do differently,” Huffman said.
Elijah Rising, an organization that fights sex trafficking on several different fronts, believes there’s a supply chain going into trafficking and that it’s coming from foster care.
“There needs to be foster care reform. We need to pay attention to ways that we can better improve the system so that this doesn’t happen again,” David Gamboa said.
The special Senate Committee meets Thursday at noon in Austin in the Senate Chamber of the state capitol.
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