Five Minutes With Dr. Linda Garcia, Senior Vice President of EMPOWER: Building Stronger Texas Communities Through This Dallas-Based Child Welfare Collaborative

by Martin Ramirez on February 13, 2024 in Entertainment,

Last year,  EMPOWER was awarded as the Community-Based Care (CBC) contractor by the State of Texas for Metroplex East, one of the largest CBC awards in U.S. history. 

In a region that spans across nine counties—Dallas, Collin, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, and Rockwall—EMPOWER proudly provides child placement services, case management, kinship, and reunification services. While this is no easy task to undertake, EMPOWER has improved the overall wellbeing of children in foster care within the region, successfully keeping them closer to home and connected to their DFW communities and families. Dr. Linda Garcia recently sat down with TLM to discuss EMPOWER’s vision, challenges, and successes, and in the spirit of this Valentine’s Day, you can share your love for Texas communities.

Community-based care involves a collaborative of support from local partners. Photo courtesy EMPOWER.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to EMPOWER?

My career is fueled by a passion for improving the lives of vulnerable children and families. Prior to my role at EMPOWER, I served as the Senior Vice President of 2INgage, the community-based care contractor in Region 2 in Texas. The transition to EMPOWER represents a dream fulfilled, allowing me to embark on a new chapter at its inception. Aligning seamlessly with my personal and professional mission, this opportunity enables me to continue my commitment to serving children and families. Joining EMPOWER from its inception is not only a professional milestone, but a significant step towards contributing to the well-being of those in need, a journey that has been at the core of my dedication throughout my career.

Keeping Metroplex East children together is a local approach. Photo courtesy EMPOWER.

Where does EMPOWER’s vision of transforming child welfare begin? Has there been any progress working with different partners in the private sector or state level?

EMPOWER’s vision of transforming child welfare begins and ends with communities. Community-based care aims to keep children local and connected to their home. This model requires communities to wrap around vulnerable children and families and strengthen them through local services and resources. EMPOWER is a local approach—we’re here to keep Metroplex East kids in Metroplex East and to ensure the children we serve achieve permanency through adoption or reintegration.

We have already seen success in working with different community providers and DFPS. We’re excited to continue collaborating with partners to create real change for Metroplex East children and families!

A supportive environment is key to achieving permanency. Photo courtesy EMPOWER.

As an advocate for North Texas children and families, what has been a unique challenge for these communities?

 Children often find themselves placed far from their home communities, facing a lack of treatment facilities, limited access to mental health services, and a shortage of support services. Addressing these profound challenges necessitates a comprehensive, community-focused approach. EMPOWER is committed to implementing targeted support programs and awareness campaigns as integral components of its overarching plan. EMPOWER recognizes the need for strategic interventions to bridge existing gaps, ensuring children have access to essential services within or near their communities. By fostering collaboration with local agencies, advocating for policy changes, and implementing evidence-based programs, EMPOWER aims to create a supportive environment that addresses the unique needs of each child and family.

Foster parents are always needed in the collaborative. Photo courtesy EMPOWER.

Your site mentions Community Based Care (CBC) as a collaborative approach that involves a network of providers working together to provide support and services to children and families. Can you tell us what needs still need to be met and how readers and organizations can be involved?

There is a dire need for more foster parents in the Metroplex East area who are willing to care for teenagers, medically fragile and sibling groups. EMPOWER will be helping providers recruit more safe and supportive homes to provide temporary, loving care to the children we serve.

Fostering is not the only way individuals or organizations can get involved, though. As mentioned, CBC requires communities to wrap around vulnerable children and families. There are multiple ways to get involved—join our team, volunteering, donating, and spreading the news. If anyone is interested in helping local kids in need, call us at 972-797-9636 or email

EMPOWER is building a team, see their website for more details on openings. Photo courtesy EMPOWER.

What are some of the organization’s proudest moments?

  • Recruiting key leaders from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) showcases a strategic approach to assembling a talented and experienced local team.
  • Collaborating with the provider network and DFPS to identify community placements for children underscores a commitment to improving the well-being of those in care.
  • Building relationships with stakeholders, including the North Texas Foster Consortium, legal community, CASA, and other key providers, reflects a broader engagement with the community and essential partners.

These proud moments collectively demonstrate EMPOWER’s success in team building, community collaboration, and stakeholder engagement, all contributing to its mission of providing effective care for children in foster and kinship care.

In addition to child placement services, EMPOWER provides case management and kinship and reunification services. Photo courtesy EMPOWER.

What’s next for EMPOWER? Are there any events we can highlight? 

EMPOWER was awarded as the Community-Based Care (CBC) contractor by the State of Texas for the Metroplex East region, including Dallas, Collin, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, and Rockwall counties. Under Phase 1 of the contract, EMPOWER started managing child placement services on September 1, 2023, and on March 1, 2024, EMPOWER will have fully taken over case management for all children and their families in the Metroplex East region.

There are many local children in foster care in need of a safe, loving place to call home. To learn more about how you can help these children in need, please visit Photo courtesy EMPOWER.


Cover photo courtesy EMPOWER

Martin Ramirez is a brisket-eating, Shiner-loving, road-tripping enthusiast of all things Texas. This Dallas-born writer / adventurer is ready to take his ‘78 El Camino to find the best in food, fun, and fitness throughout the Lone Star State.