About the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence

At the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence, our team is dedicated to addressing the needs of children involved in the child welfare system. We also advocate for increased and improved access and resources for children and their families in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and throughout Texas.

The only clinic of its kind in North Texas, the Center provides care for children from infancy through age 18 with current or past child welfare involvement. We serve children who are currently or were previously in foster care and those who have had investigations or other services from child protective services (CPS). We work with caregivers, CPS and others to ensure complete health care for every child.

  • Our mission: To make life better for children and families with involvement in the child welfare system

    The Center began in 2012 as a clinic to address issues with communication and access to quality, trauma-informed services for this high-risk population. Today, with generous support from the Rees-Jones Foundation and the community, the Center campuses serve more than 2,000 children each year. Using an integrated care model, we support every child and family who comes to our clinics, no matter what challenges they may face.

    The Center provides extended appointments in a collaborative, trauma-informed environment. We serve children and teens with special needs ranging from complex medical conditions to in-utero drug and alcohol exposure to pregnancy and parenting responsibilities.

    The beliefs and commitments that guide our work include:

    • A trauma-informed approach. We recognize the impact of trauma and respond in ways that promote healing and resist retraumatization.
    • Inclusiveness. We respect people, value diversity and are committed to equity.
    • Quality. We strive for excellence through continuous evaluation and improvement.
    • Openness. We encourage a culture of teamwork and collaboration, partnering with organizations that seek to promote the health and well-being of children with experience in the child welfare system.
    • Innovation. We embrace creativity and change to align our services with our patients’ needs.
  • Core Programs

    The Center seeks to be the leading academic health care organization providing integrated, trauma-informed, pediatric primary and behavioral health care to improve outcomes for children involved in the child welfare system.

    Advocacy to raise awareness

    The Center frequently partners with community and state agencies to educate others and raise awareness about the issues that families involved in the child welfare system face. We work to promote policies, practices and action for optimal health and well-being of families in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond.

    The Center’s advocacy efforts include:

    • Care Conferences
      • Information-sharing and problem-solving to ensure best possible outcomes for children
      • Topics: Physical and behavioral health needs, transition planning and placement supports
      • Participants: Schools, CPS, community providers, caregivers, child placing agencies, court-appointed special advocates (CASA) and others
    • Presentations at conferences
      • Regional meetings, such as Child Abuse Grand Rounds, school districts and Head Start of Greater Dallas
      • State conferences, such as Texas Pediatric Society, Texas Psychological Association and First3Years Baby Day
      • National conferences, such as American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
    • Partnerships
      • Children’s Commission: Judicial Trauma Institute, Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care and CIP/OCA/DFPS Stakeholder Collaborative
      • Child Protection Roundtable
      • Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice
      • National Child Traumatic Stress Network
      • HealthySteps (Zero to Three)
      • Children’s Hospital Association of Texas
      • Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services
      • TexProtects
    • Direct work with organizations
      • Superior HealthPlan Star Health
      • Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Single-Source Continuum Contractors (SSCC)
      • Judicial and legislative entities
    • Publishing journal articles, white papers and policy briefs

    Collaboration for comprehensive services

    Children in foster care depend on supportive, nurturing communities to help them recover from the trauma of abuse or neglect. The Center works with community and state organizations to identify and meet the health and recovery needs of children in care and their families.

    To help with these efforts, the Center provides cross-discipline trainings encouraging collaborative problem-solving at a local level, while also uncovering and addressing emerging or systemic issues that require statewide advocacy. Some of the Center’s collaboration efforts include:


    • Family Advisory Council, with former and current caregivers who serve as a sounding board for the Center staff
      • Caregiver Mentoring Program
      • Transitional Services and Medicaid Access
      • Book Drives
    • Regular training by our team of providers on topics related to trauma-informed care, early childhood, in-utero drug exposure, and trauma symptoms related to abuse or neglect
      • Virtual and in-person training for caregivers, community agencies, child welfare staff, physical and behavioral health providers and others
      • Training by request for organizations based on the needs of their staff and families


    • Children’s Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center
    • DFPS and Our Community Our Kids (OCOK)
    • Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
    • Texas Pediatric Society
    • Dallas and Collin County CASA


    Clinical care for physical and behavioral health

    Children entering foster care often have complex needs that require a coordinated approach. The Center's integrated care model provides comprehensive primary and behavioral health care to children and families, from the time they enter foster care until they find a permanent home. The Center specializes in trauma-informed care, helping children and families feel safe and supported.

    Care coordination for child welfare staff and families can be challenging. The Center's team provides care coordination by locating medical history, coordinating referrals, and serving as a point of contact. CPS liaisons housed in each clinic help communicate with other DFPS staff.

    Clinical services offered:

    Research to improve care and outcomes

    The Center team regularly conducts research focused on improving patient care and outcomes and informing health care policy development. Past research topics include:

    • Primary care services, including well-child and sick visits
    • Trauma-focused and evidence-based therapy services:
      • Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT)
      • Play therapy
      • Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT)
      • Parent-child care (PC-CARE)
    • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
    • Trauma-informed psychological assessments
    • Child development consultations and assessments
    • Child psychiatry services
    • Care coordination
    • Parenting education and support
      • Caregiver stress
      • Overview of patients’ health status
      • Evaluation of trauma-informed training practices
      • Assessment and promotion of resilience in children involved in the child welfare system

    Learn more about the Center’s research efforts.

    Training for future care providers

    As the science of traumatic, toxic stress evolves, UT Southwestern and Children’s Health are committed to identifying cutting-edge interventions. The goal is to reduce the adverse impact of abuse and neglect on a child’s lifelong health. Through health services research, policy analysis and medical education, the Center’s experts foster ongoing advancements in the care of children in foster care for years to come.

    The Center’s ongoing training initiatives include:

    Physical health:

    • Developmental behavioral pediatrics fellowship
    • Child abuse pediatrics fellowship
    • Adolescent medicine fellowship
    • General pediatrics residency
    • Medical students

    Behavioral health:

    • APA-accredited postdoctoral fellowship in clinical pediatric psychology
    • Predoctoral internship
    • Practicum students
      • Doctoral
      • Early childhood
    • Child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship

    Allied health:

    • Social justice scholar
    • Nursing students
    • Advanced practice providers
    • Public health (MS and PhD)
    • Undergraduate students
    • Administrative fellowships

    For more information about our core programs and collaboration opportunities, please email reesjonescenter@childrens.com.

  • Integrated Care Model

    According to the Texas DFPS Data Book, 38,294 children and youth were in the state’s custody in fiscal year 2022. Research shows that when a child enters foster care, they often have unmet physical, behavioral health and developmental needs due to previous abuse and neglect and limited quality services.

    Adding to these challenges are the temporary nature of foster care placements, inconsistent treatments and therapies, and limited communication between multiple decision makers. Unfortunately, such experiences can have lasting impacts on the health and well-being of children with child welfare involvement.

    To address these needs, the Center provides integrated care. Our knowledgeable, experienced medical and behavioral health providers work together to support each child’s whole health, well-being and care. Our services include:

    • Comprehensive, trauma-informed physical, developmental and behavioral health care
    • Tailored treatment plans
    • Caregiver education and support
    • Health care transition services between placements, at case closure, post-adoption and aging out of foster care

    An integrated appointment with the Center team involves medical and behavioral health providers working together. They provide trauma-informed assessments and treatment planning and connect families to services and support at Children’s Health or in the community. The length of these appointments and the providers involved vary based on the child’s needs and age. The providers meet with the caregiver and child separately and together, then give recommendations for referrals, treatment and next steps.

    The multidisciplinary team works closely with caregivers and DFPS and SSCC staff and others involved with the family to address concerns. They also provide education to help children thrive in their placements and help caregivers feel supported. Our team takes extra time to understand the intricacies of each child’s needs to communicate treatment plans, timelines and documentation to those making decisions about the child’s care.

    Every team member in our clinic can provide trauma-informed services, from the first scheduling call to after-hours nurse triage. We support each child’s whole health by quickly addressing their needs and fostering an environment of collaboration and support.

  • HealthySteps: A program of Zero to Three

    HealthySteps is an evidence-based, team-based pediatric primary care program that promotes the health, well-being and school readiness of children from infancy through age 5, with a focus on families in low-income communities. The Center is the first clinic in Texas to use this program exclusively with children and families involved in the child welfare system.

    HealthySteps uses the American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures Guidelines, theory-based, evidence-driven recommendations for preventive care screenings and health supervision visits. HealthySteps incorporates families, physical health care providers (physician champions), HealthySteps Specialists/Early Childhood Specialists and other clinic staff into the pediatric primary care team. This approach supports universal screening, successful interventions, referrals and follow-up for the whole family.

    Research supports the effectiveness of HealthySteps, with the following findings:

    • Parents who participate are more likely to:
      • Receive information about community resources and services
      • Provide infants with age-appropriate nutrition
      • Adhere to child safety guidelines
      • Use positive parenting strategies
      • Engage in early literacy-enhancing practices with their children
    • Participation was associated with greater security of attachment and fewer child behavior problems.
    • Providers have reported that the model fosters a team-based care approach and enhances their ability to meet the needs of children and families.

    With HealthySteps, we focus on child health, caregiver knowledge and practices, and family health and well-being with the long-term goal of healthier, happier children who thrive in school and life.

    For more information on the HealthySteps program at the Center, please email reesjonescenter@childrens.com.

  • Get involved with the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence

    Find out how to become a foster parent:

    Become a CASA volunteer.

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Szilagyi, M. A., Rosen, D. S., Rubin, D., Zlotnik, S., Harmon, D., Jaudes, P., Jones, V. F., et al. Health Care Issues for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care and Kinship Care. Pediatrics October 2015; 136(4): e1131–e1140. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2015-2655

Lamminen, L. M., McLeigh, J. D., and Roman, H. K. (2020). Caring for Children in Child Welfare Systems: A Trauma-Informed Model of Integrated Primary Care. Practice Innovations, 5(1): 55–64. https://doi.org/10.1037/pri0000108

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. DFPS Data Book, Fiscal Year 2022: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/About_DFPS/Data_Book/Child_Protective_Services/Conservatorship/Children_in_Conservatorship.asp

Meet the team