Texas Foster Care Crisis Worsens, with Fast-growing Numbers of Children Sleeping in Offices, Hotels, Churches


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July 19, 2021 – Prince Hayward was 6 or 7 years old the first time he spent the night on an office floor. Hayward was ushered into a common area, and a caseworker fished out a mat for him to sleep on. His parents had lost temporary custody of him — again. The caseworker moved to another room, and Hayward lay there under the fluorescent lights, alone and wondering where he’d end up next. From there he entered a revolving door of residential treatment centers, group homes, emergency shelters, a couple of foster homes and Child Protective Services offices. Sometimes other children were there, sometimes he was alone. Sometimes he was made to throw away part of his belongings before going to the office. Until he aged out of the system at age 18, sleeping in an office became routine. “I hate to compare it to jail, but you’re basically sleeping on a jail mattress,” Hayward said. “Most times I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. It was the environment, but also just everything was hitting you at the time.” On occasions, Hayward said, he “had to almost beg for” a shower, toothbrush, toothpaste or even a meal. Sometimes he sat...