Foster Care in Texas
Foster care works a little differently in each state. Texas is where I am licensed and where I foster. If a call is made into CPS (Child Protective Services), and they feel it is serious enough to investigate, they will send out an investigator to where the child is at the time whether that be a daycare, in the home, with a relative, at home, in school, etc.
If they determine it is in the best interest of the child to remove him or her from the home, they will do so and will contact CPS and other foster agencies to try to find a licensed foster home with open beds for the children. They try very hard to keep siblings together. But oftentimes, due to the size of the sibling group or the ages of the siblings, they are split among a number of homes.
A caseworker or agency worker will then be assigned to the children to check in on them and to make sure that the family who previously had the child/children are given a safety plan to work. Each parents’ plan is different depending on the reason the child/children have come into care. If drugs are involved, parents are asked to attend treatment. For some, jail time may be mandatory. Classes are asked of the parents as well as psychological evaluations and therapy. Parents will also be given a visitation schedule as visits, in the beginning, will be supervised by CPS staff at an office of their choosing. In addition, parents will also be given a time frame to work on their plan, and more often than not, this will be extended (sometimes for years).
Each case will go to court on a regular basis to make sure that the parents are complying with their plan and that the best interest of the children are being served, to make sure the children are doing well in their placements, or to suggest new placements if needed.
There will be a number of people coming in and out of the foster home to check in on the children: caseworkers, agency workers, CASAs, home developers, possibly adoption workers, therapists, etc.
If the parent works their plan to the point that the judge on the case and the caseworkers are satisfied, then a transition plan for the child to return home is put into place. If the parents cannot work their plan and do what is requested of them or they abandon the child/children, then the case can go either into PMC (permanent managing conservatorship) of the state or into adoption.
To become a foster parent, the rules vary from state to state, but the process is fairly similar. The first step you’ll want to take is to search out local foster/adoption agencies in your area. The best way to do this is to do a google search to see what agencies are available where you live. Once you have created a list of agencies, seek them out, make appointments with each one. Sit down and discuss what your expectations are in being a foster parent, what kind of support you’re looking for, what benefits each agency offers to you as the foster parent for being with their agency. Ask what qualifications you must have to be licensed with each agency as well. Some agencies do not license same-sex couples or single parents, or those who do not have a religious affiliation. Others will license anyone wanting to foster as long as they meet the state guidelines for providing a safe home.
Once you have decided what agency is best for you and your family, discuss the training process with that agency and what paperwork will be required. Most agencies/states require valid driver’s licenses, FBI fingerprinting, background checks, criminal background checks, verification of employment, verification of residency, fire and health home inspections, and a home study of all members of your home. A home study is an in-depth interview of each member of the home as to what their life is like now, what their parenting style is like, what their family life was like as a child, etc.
Once all paperwork is completed, training usually begins and the paperwork can be processed. Those wishing to be foster parents will attend mandatory training which is normally 40+ hours in the areas of Trauma and Informed Care, CPR/First Aid, Methods of Discipline, Psychotropic medications, etc. Each family will have to maintain a certain number of hours each year in order to maintain their license with their agency. Training can often be done online.
When training is complete and all other documents and checks are passed, a license will be issued for the amount of and age of children the family is willing to accept into their home. Families do have the rights to define what children they feel comfortable taking, and which ones they do not feel comfortable with.
Becoming licensed is not that difficult or time-consuming. If a family is diligent in becoming licensed it can take as little as 4-6 months from start to your first placement. The experience is difficult, but foster parenting is rewarding.