The Need for Foster Parents
In Texas, there are over 31,000 children placed outside their parent’s care in foster care. There are not enough foster homes to support this number of children in care. This means that children from your community are being placed outside of their home community, or in shelters.
Children who are placed outside their home community in one day lose their parents, family, school friends, teachers, coaches, and sense of connection to their community. They frequently miss school so they can have visits, or they don’t see family because they need to be in school. This sense of loss is compounded when they cannot be placed with their brothers and sisters due to no one having enough room.
Foster parents are needed to take children of all ages. The hardest to find placement for are teenagers and for children with challenging behaviors. Foster parents who are willing to take sibling sets of 3 or more that spread across the age ranges are greatly needed.
Working with the Birth Family
An important role for foster parents is to work with the child’s birth family to help that child return home, and if that fails, to commit to raise/parenting the child through adoption or guardianship.
The foster parent helps children to keep contact with their birth family, while acting as a mentor for that family. Foster care is a service provided to the child’s entire family. Foster families come from the same community as the child, are willing to accept and agree to visitation and other types of contact with siblings, relatives, and other important people in the child’s life.
Working with the family helps children to return home or be adopted more quickly while enabling them to keep contact with those who are important in their lives. Children who keep contact and are returned home or adopted more quickly have less trauma while in foster care.
As a foster family, you may be asked to:
- Provide temporary care, love, and nurturance to children while serving as a mentor to their parent. This could include actively helping the parent improve on their parenting abilities. The foster parent assists in helping the children transition home, to a legal guardianship, or adoption by another family, while keeping the child in contact with their kin, culture and community.
- Serve as the legal guardian for children while maintaining the children’s contact to kin, culture, and community.
- Adopt the children while maintaining the children’s contact to kin, culture and community.
Foster Parents Contact with the Birth Family
The Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) will determine through assessment what level of contact the child should have with the birth family. Every effort is made to ensure that contact between the child’s birth family and the child and foster parents is safe and positive. When possible, foster parents are encouraged to supervise visitation with the children, assist with transportation around visitation, and model appropriate behavior for the birth parents. This may mean allowing the child to use the phone to talk to their parent, while the foster parent listens in, or spending time with the child and their parents at a local park. When appropriate, some foster parents have allowed the parents to come into their home, and help them with bedtime routines. Foster parents do have input into what level of contact they are comfortable with, and are encouraged to share any concerns they have regarding this contact with their TFI worker and the child’s worker.
Types of Foster Parents
There are a number of different “types” of foster parents in Texas. These include:
- Foster families provide a safe and nurturing home and are committed to working with birth families to reunite children with parents. In the event that a child does not return home, foster families may become the permanent caregiver for the child either through adoption or permanent conservatorship. Foster parents are encouraged to work with the birth parents to provide mentoring and support.
- With an additional 40 hours of Supervision training with another foster parent, or prior experience to parent challenging behaviors, foster parents may take children who have specialized behavior needs and receive a higher level of care daily rate.
Foster to Adopt Parent
- Foster to adopt parents are willing to take all foster children, but are interested in adoption. These parents generally take children who are a higher risk of adoption and those whose parental rights are terminated and are available for adoption.
Kinship Foster Parents
- Kinship Foster parents have a relationship already established with a child or sibling group of children in DFPS custody. They become approved for that specific child/children. Kinship parents who are willing to care for additional children may become approved as traditional Foster Parents.
Requirements to be a Foster Parent in Texas
- must have the ability to love, understand, care for and accept a child to whom they did not give birth
- must be at least 21 years of age
- may be married, single, legally separated, or divorced; if Married, both parents must become licensed foster parents
- must be in good physical and mental health to provide for the needs of the child
- must have sufficient income to meet current expenses
- must be able to provide sufficient beds and bedrooms for additional children
- must submit to a search of DFPS records, including Child Welfare records
- Applicants and each household member, 14 years of age or older, submits fingerprints for a state and national criminal history records search
- must ensure that no household member has a prior conviction of any sexual offense
- must have a working vehicle and a telephone (this can be a cell phone)
- must be a legal resident
- must complete required preservice trainings.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is expected of me as a foster parent?
We expect our foster parents to provide a loving, nurturing and structured home. Your foster child should be treated as much like biological child would be within state guidelines.
Can I foster for more than one agency at a time?
No. Texas law does not allow individuals to foster for more than one agency at a time.
Do the children see their birth families?
It depends on the individual circumstances. Most children have visitation with their birth families, unless their parental rights have been terminated. Visitation is required by law and the Department of Family & Protective Services. Visits also promote a continued bond between the children and their families.
Can I become a foster parent if I have had charges on my police record?
If you have had criminal charges, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t foster. If you have pled guilty or have been convicted of any crimes against children or domestic violence, our agency will not license you. Other charges may be discussed with TFI staff.
How are a child’s medical needs covered?
Each child is provided health insurance by the State of Texas Medicaid program.
What is the average age of children TFI works with?
Children range from infancy to 18 years of age. Children in a sibling group usually require placement together. TFI promotes siblings remaining together unless there is a risk in doing so. We encourage our families to be open to caring for sibling.
Does it cost anything to become a foster parent?
There is a charge of approximately $45/person age 14 and older to become fingerprinted. In addition, there may be charges for the fire and health inspections of your home. TFI will reimburse this cost to you up to $200 when your foster home is approved. There are no other fees.
What if I feel I don’t have what it takes to foster?
You may choose to help serve children in another manner such as volunteering, mentoring, providing respite care, donating items to the children, and more. Let us know if you are interested in helping, and we’ll find a way that fits for you.