● Interested in Becoming a Foster Parent

Report Abuse

By Phone: 1-800-252-5400

Online: Texas Abuse HotlineExternal Link

Call our Abuse Hotline toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nationwide, or report with our secure website and get a response within 24 hours. You do not have to identify yourself when you make a report of abuse/neglect.

We cannot accept email reports of suspected abuse or neglect.


Foster Care – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Foster Care?
In 2006, the State of Texas had removed over 17,500  (17,500) children from their homes due to severe neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and/or sexual abuse. The courts remove the children in order to protect them and authorize the Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS), also known as Child Protective Services, CPS, to place the children with private agencies for their care and protection. These private agencies have a contract with DFPS to provide safe, nurturing foster homes with the goal of fostering healing and growth in these children.

Once the children are placed in foster homes, the State (DFPS) continues to assess what is in the best interest of the child.  At times, children are returned to their biological mother or father once the family proves they can provide appropriate and nurturing care for the child.  Other times, children may be placed with relatives if a responsible and caring adult is found within the extended family.  When those circumstances are not options, a child may remain in the foster care system for a period of time. Once the courts terminate the biological parental rights, a child may become adoptable.

What types of children are placed in Foster Homes?
CPS/Private Agencies provide foster homes for boys and girls ages 0-17 all over Texas. Most of the children and youth placed in foster care were removed from their biological families due to neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or even sexual abuse. Some of our children have experienced all of these.

Fostering a child is not always the same as parenting your own children. Children who have experienced the tragedy of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to drugs, and separation from their biological family require unconditional love, patience and acceptance. They may have a very difficult time controlling their emotions. Many are behind in school and have a hard time trusting adults.  The staff of CPS/Private Agencies are highly skilled in providing support and training to assist foster families with these issues.  Fostering requires a high level of dedication, an openness to communicate with staff, and a commitment to work with a child on a daily basis when issues arise.

How long does it take to become a Foster Parent?
The safety and well-being of our children is of utmost importance, so the process to become a foster parent does take some time. Several meetings and interviews will take place, as well as a review of your home environment. In addition, staff will provide the foster family with specialized training that will focus on helping children who have been traumatized. Much of the training occurs before a child is placed in your home. The entire process usually takes 2-3 months but could take longer.

What kind of support do I get as a Foster Parent?
When our staff find a child that they believe may be a good match for your family, they will call and provide you with all the information they have about the child. The foster parents make the final decision as to whether or not they think the child will be a good fit in their home.

Once a child is placed in your home, staff will be assigned to your family and will work directly with you in meeting the needs of the children. There are also experienced Treatment Teams available to support your family.  The Treatment Team may include licensed counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists.  In case of emergencies, the Case Managers are available to assist in any way possible to help you as you help the child.

Foster parents are also offered on-going training opportunities throughout the year.  These trainings and other activities provide ways for foster families to meet each other and develop additional support networks.  Many times foster families become friends and rely on each other for respite care and other supportive needs. TFFA currently offers three training opportunities a year. These training sessions will help you learn how to better help/support the child in your care.

What about paying for the child’s food, insurance, clothing?
The state of Texas reimburses foster parents for most of the costs related to raising a child. This reimbursement is also based on the emotional and psychological needs of the child. The higher the needs of the child, the higher the reimbursement. This will be explained to you in detail during the assessment/training period.

Children placed in foster homes are assigned a Level of Care by DFPS. These levels, from lowest to highest, are: Basic, Moderate, and Specialized. The lower the Level of Care (LOC), the more stable the child is. The higher the level of care, the more needs the child has, and so more dollars are provided to cover those additional needs.

The Level of Care is calculated daily, thus foster families are reimbursed according to the number of days a child lives in the home.

Most of the children placed in foster care are covered by Medicaid, which covers medical and dental expenses.

Can I adopt a foster child?

Yes, in fact it is quite common for foster parents to later adopt a foster child that has been placed in their home. Some families even continue to provide foster care to additional children after they have adopted a child.

Foster children adopted by their foster parents tend to be more successful than if they are adopted by a family who did not provide foster care. If you decide that you want to adopt a foster child placed in your home and the parental rights have been removed by the courts, DFPD can help with the process.

What do I do next if I want to be a Foster Parent?
Contact any one of our local offices or to receive additional information. You will be contacted with FREE training schedules in your area. If you have any questions about the process, staff will be happy to help you.

By becoming a foster parent, you will make a lasting and profound difference in the life of a child!


Steps to Become a Foster/Adoptive Parent

Information Meeting

You will need to attend an information meeting in your area where you can discuss the scope and requirements of being a foster or adoptive parent.

Basic Requirements

The prospective foster/adoptive parents may be single or married and must:

  • be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible mature adults,
  • complete an application (staff will assist you, if you prefer),
  • share information regarding their background and lifestyle,
  • provide relative and non-relative references,
  • show proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable),
  • agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members,
  • allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household, and
  • attend free training to learn about issues of abused and neglected children.

The training provides an opportunity for the family and DFPS to assess whether foster care or adoption is best for the family. The family may withdraw from the meetings at any time. There is no charge for the meetings. Foster/adoptive parents generally train together.

You will get basic information and questions are welcome. Your local DFPS office will furnish you with this information if there are no informational meetings in your area.You do not need an appointment. Find free foster care and adoption information meetings in your Texas area.

Additional Foster Care Requirements

In addition to the basic requirements, foster parents must:

  • have adequate sleeping space.
  • allow no more than 6 children in the home including your own children or children for whom you provide day care.
  • agree to a nonphysical discipline policy.
  • permit fire, health and safety inspections of the home.
  • vaccinate all pets.
  • obtain and maintain CPR/First Aid Certification.
  • obtain TB testing as required by the local Health Department for household members.
  • attend 20 hours or more of training each year.

Responsibilities of Foster and Adoptive Families

Foster Parents:

  • provide daily care and nurturing of children in foster care;
  • advocate for children in their schools and communities;
  • inform the children’s caseworkers about adjustments to the home, school, and community, as well as any problems that may arise, including any serious illnesses, accidents, or serious occurrences involving the foster children or their own families;
  • make efforts as team members with children’s caseworkers towards reunifying children with their birth families;
  • provide a positive role model to birth families and
  • help children learn life skills.

Adoptive Parents:

  • provide permanent homes and a lifelong commitment to children into adulthood;
  • provide for the short-term and long-term needs of children;
  • provide for children’s emotional, mental, physical, social, educational, and cultural needs, according to each child’s developmental age and growth;
  • may become certified as a foster family and accept children who are not legally free for adoption, but whose permanency plan is adoption.

Can foster families adopt?

Yes! Many families are interested in both fostering and adopting. They agree with the agency that the children’s needs come first. In most cases, this means helping prepare children for reunification with their birth family, mentoring the birth parents, or working toward a relative or kinship placement.

When termination of parental rights is in the children’s best interest and adoption is their plan, then foster parents who have cared for the children will be given the opportunity to adopt. Dual certification of parents to both foster and adopt speeds up the placement process, reduces the number of moves a child makes, and allows relationships to evolve with the initial placement process. Nearly half the adoptions of children in DFPS foster care are by their foster families.

Can adoptive families provide foster care?

Yes! Adoptive families who are willing to accept placement of children who are not yet legally free for adoption but have a plan for adoption can also become certified as foster families. This dual certification increases the opportunities for successful adoptions. In some areas of the state, a “buddy system” has been developed in which experienced foster families, who understand the challenges and rewards of foster parenting, are available to share experiences with new families and give support.

Training

You will attend training (PRIDE) to learn more about the children available through DFPS and to assess your strengths in parenting children. The classes also boost your knowledge and confidence to meet the challenge of taking children into your home and to be sure you are ready to follow through on the commitment.

What is PRIDE?

Child Protective Services (CPS) recognizes that 16 hours of pre-service training for foster parents is insufficient. Therefore, CPS requires potential foster parents to attend Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE) as part of the family’s required pre-service training.

Texas PRIDE is a 35-hour competency-based training program that is co-trained by an agency staff member and a foster or adoptive parent. PRIDE provides prospective foster families with base knowledge of information on caring for children in the child welfare system. PRIDE covers topics such as child attachment, loss and grief, discipline and behavior intervention, effects of abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, working with the child welfare system, and the effects of fostering and adopting on the family.

Through collaborative efforts with the Texas Alliance, a statewide advocacy organization that represents many private CPA’s in Texas, DFPS has made PRIDE available to private CPA’s.

Additional Training Requirements

The state minimum standards require that prospective foster families also complete the following trainings or certifications, which are not part of the PRIDE curriculum:

  • Universal precautions training
  • Psychotropic medication training
  • Certification in both First Aid and infant/child/adult CPR

State minimum standards also require that verified foster homes receive annual in-service training. Depending on the number of foster parents and the needs of the children in a foster home, the annual training requirements range from 20 hours per family to 30 hours per foster parent.

Family Home Study

A caseworker will visit you in your home. The purpose is to discuss your personal history, family interests and lifestyle, childcare experiences, the types of children you feel would best fit in your home, and your strengths and skills in meeting the children’s needs.


The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has a central place to report:

  • Child abuse and neglect.
  • Abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and exploitation of the elderly or adults with disabilities living at home.
  • Abuse of children in child-care facilities or treatment centers
  • Abuse of adults and children who live in state facilities or are being helped by programs for people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. These are run by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) or Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS). 

Texas law says anyone who thinks a child, or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited must report it to DFPS. A person who reports abuse in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability. DFPS keeps the name of the person making the report confidential. Anyone who does not report suspected abuse can be held liable for a misdemeanor or felony. Time frames for investigating reports are based on the severity of the allegations. Reporting suspected abuse makes it possible for a family to get help.


 

Report Abuse

By Phone: 1-800-252-5400

Online: Texas Abuse HotlineExternal Link

Call our Abuse Hotline toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nationwide, or report with our secure website and get a response within 24 hours. You do not have to identify yourself when you make a report of abuse/neglect.

We cannot accept email reports of suspected abuse or neglect.