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Whistleblower: Texas officials knew foster children housed in unsafe conditions for months

Whistleblower: Texas officials knew foster children housed in unsafe conditions for months

Texas officials failed to report foster children being kept illegally at an emergency shelter that received several citations, The Texas Tribune reports.

Despite being informed of the violations, officials, including some working under Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), did not report them to court-appointed watchdogs in charge of monitoring the system, according to the Tribune, which cited court records.

The Whataburger Center, located in San Antonio and named after a one-time donation from the chain restaurant, was cited 239 times for failing to meet state minimum standards over a four-year span. After multiple reports, some including claims of abuse or neglect, the center was put on probation, the terms of which banned any children from being housed there.

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The center reportedly ignored the court-appointed probation, handed down by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Despite saying they would relocate the children and surrender their license, Family Tapestry, which runs the center, reportedly continued to house children there and in a conjoined office.

The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and HHSC were notified of the violation, but did not act to remove the children, the Tribune reports.

In March, a whistleblower made court monitors aware of the situation, resulting in the relocation of the foster children there, the number of whom was not reported. Court records show this came five months after officials first became privy to the violations.

"We were shocked when we learned what the whistleblower revealed to the monitors. The state, including top officials at DFPS, HHSC and even the governor's office, was aware of children being placed in illegal operations for months," attorney Paul Yetter, who is fighting against the state in the case, told the Tribune. 

He added, "Keeping secrets is not how this broken system is going to get fixed. It puts children at risk."

Abbott's office did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.