CENTRAL TEXAS (March 24, 2013)--Thousands of Central Texas children are removed from their homes every year because of abuse and neglect, and there aren’t enough foster parents in their communities to care for them, forcing them to move to other counties, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services says.
In 2012, Family and Protective Services removed 421 children from Bell County, compared to 157 from McLennan County and 200 from Coryell County.
The high numbers for Bell County could be because of a younger, military community, said Michelle Carter with Children's Advocacy Center of Central Texas.
"We can theorize on we have a very young population of parents here, which contributes here often times to struggles and being able to care for kids in an appropriate manner," Carter said.
"We certainly have a transient community here as well as the military has some impact in the challenges that those military families face."
Carter adds younger parents are often inexperienced, and military families at times struggle with deployments and PTSD.
The current number of kids in the foster care system shows an even greater need for foster parents.
Current 460 are in the system in Bell County, 130 in Coryell County and 331 in McLennan County.
There aren’t enough foster parents to care for all foster children in Bell County, according to Family and Protective Services.
Many foster kids from Bell County have to be placed elsewhere, which is the opposite of what foster care advocates want.
"Our number one goal is to keep children in their communities," Moody said.
"If a child is removed from Killeen, what we want is to have foster parents in Killeen so that the children won't lose their sense of home."
More than $6 million was spent on Bell County foster children alone.