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children were being fairly and humanely treated, and those who did notice deficiencies did not raise any protest strong enough so that it could not be ignored. The blame must be shouldered by every Texan. There was agreement among all investigators that emergency measures were needed to update licensing laws and to revise the standards and monitoring practices of the four state agencies which operate or license children’s facilities: The Departments of Health; Welfare; Mental Health and Mental Retardation; and the Texas Youth Council. During the last session of the LegislaLure, the legislators passed a total of six laws dealing with the protection of children. “The alternative is for the courts to do it for us,” the Truan committee had told them. Prodded by litigation which exposed its ugliest secrets to the nation and reviled by the press, Texas lawmakers passed what an official of the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges called “the best family code in the nation.” Dr. Norris E. Class, a California child welfare expert, said that Texas’ new law on the licensing of child-caring facilities, which goes into effect January, 1976, “has the potential for being the -most progressive child-care regulatory statute in the country.” 14 The Texas Observer You’ll be glad you came to NO, gat ; Deacti s HOTEL 45 luxurious, air conditioned hotel rooms, each with private balcony . . . Large swimming pool, lounge area, fine dining, bar, entertainment . . . 5 minutes from airport, shopping, sightseeing, golf, horseback riding, white sand beach and Caribbean directly in front of hotel .. . Open year ’round . .. For rates and brochure see your Travel Agent or write P.O. Box 469 MONTEGO BAY JAMAICA Villification and exposure alone would not have fostered the passage of model legislation. Pressures came from within the state from a range of organizations like the Texas Association for Retarded Citizens, which used the opportunity presented by the scandals to lobby for improved conditions in public and private facilities and for alternatives to institutionalization. OUTSIDE TEXAS, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, embarrased by revelations of its own negligence in demanding accountability for federal expenditures, began to question Texas’ eligibility for child welfare funds. The Department of Defense, which paid millions of dollars to Texas institutions for the care of military dependents, threatened to withdraw them. The Legislature and the governor grasped the opportunity to appear heroic. Legislators worked hard and long, calling in experts from around the country to help them create the biggest and the best. The 1975 laws deal not only with the licensing and monitoring of child-care facilities but also with development of alternatives to institutionalization, child abuse reporting, adoption. Of particular interest nationally are the ratification of the Interstate Compact on Children and a complementary law that applies the same requirements to non-signers of the compact to insure that no child will enter the state without prior planning and the approval of the Commissioner of Welfare. The Compact on Children is intended as a guarantee that someone will be responsible for children and will oversee the conditions of their placements when they are moved from their home states. By 1970, all 50 states had ratified the Compact on Juveniles which provides for the detention and return of non-resident or runaway delinquents. Yet only 12 states had ratified the Compact on Children. The clamor raised in 1973-74 about interstate traffic in children led to an increase in the number of signers. In 1974 the total was only 14; but by mid-1975 it was 32. Louisiana was one of the earliest states to ratify the compact, in 1968, but this did not assure protection to its children since member states are not restricted to dealing with other members. In their search for facilities in which to place children that Louisiana’s public or private child-caring agencies could not or would not provide for, health and welfare officials found the large commercial child-care industry that had grown rapidly in East Texas since the late 1950s. Business could be conducted directly with the institutions with no delays or embarrassing questions. Child welfare policies in Louisiana limited the cost of caring for a child within the state to $130 a month, but there was no limit to what was paid for care outside the state. The child-placing agencies, courted by the Texas entrepreneurs, sent Louisiana children to Texas and paid fees ranging from $150 to $1,150 a month per child. When the lack of governmental surveillance in Texas and its consequences began to receive wide publicity, Louisiana looked elsewhere. Her children began to appear in public institutions in other states, notably Missouri and Florida. These two states were among the 1975 signers of the Compact on Children, a precaution against the spectre of a Texas-like scandal rising to haunt their governments. Texas has ignored the fact that it is virtually the only state to be involved in any large institutional building program in recent years, especially in the less-populated portions of the state. Data is being flagrantly disregarded which indicates that care in normalized settings can not only realize success in treatment but result in concrete savings of public funds. The legislature has contributed by an excessive provincial interest on the part of some key legislators who prefer the payrolls of the WHILE THE flow of Louisiana children into Texas has slowed to a trickle, very few have been returned home. Fewer than 100 were returned, most of them from facilities among the 41 closed by Texas authorities. Many were sent immediately to -other states. Rev. Michael Haddad, president of the Louisiana Association of Child Caring Agencies and Director of the Associated Catholic Charities, which operates six children’s homes in southern Louisiana, said in a recent interview that his organizations had had no requests from . state agencies to work with them to plan the care of any returning children. Haddad added that the state’s private, non-profit child-caring agencies “have the capacity to care for these children if the state would pay within the state what it pays out of state.” Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards has been silent. The Louisiana Legislature’s only response to what was called a “crisis” by Texas and Illinois officials was the approval of the construction of four large mental hospitals for adolescents. This action raised no end of controversy since it runs counter to the national trend to abolish these “relics.” Such structures are popular among legislators. The Truan Committee members made the reasons clear in this statement of naked truth to their legislative colleagues: