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Merry Christmas, David G. By Kim McCormick Austin When the Texas Family Code was enacted by the Legislature in 1973, the care of children under the auspices of the state emerged from a dark age of neglect and apathy, but one group of children remained in a legal no-man’s land, unattended even while in the legal custody of the Texas Department of Human Resources. They are the emotionally disturbed youngsters from poor homes who are prone to violence and require longterm residential treatment. They are not mentally ill or retarded, so most of the state’s 23 schools and hospitals managed by the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation are closed to such children. \(An exception is the Waco Center for Youth, which accepts children who are both emotionally disturbed and violence-prone, and provides residential The only other way severely emotionally disturbed children can find help is by committing a serious enough crime to be declared a juvenile delinquent. In such an event, a juvenile judge can then order the youngster sent to a Texas Youth Council facility, where treatment is available. For those fortunate enough to come from families who can afford to avoid the state’s lack of facilities by seeking private treatment, there are some excellent residential alternatives, such as Shoalcreek Hospital and the Brown Schools Treatment Centers, both in Austin. But most wards of the state \(who have ment to private treatment because of the high cost. According to Kathryn Hibbert, director of the Travis County Child Welfare Unit, the DHR can authorize only $40 per day for such treatment. Per-day costs at the Brown Schools are $130, which Dr. J. B. Murphy, clinical director of services, says is typical for private facilities. The only alternative, then, for emotionally disturbed youngsters under the state’s care and blocked from state mental facilities is placement with relatives. But relatives are not trained to cope with the problems of disturbed children. And in some cases, a child ends up with the relatives who were the sources of the child’s problem to begin with. The results are often predictably dismal. The following true story is a case in point. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23