Foster Parent Family Picnic on Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at The Pavilion located at 850 Hawkins Blvd.
El Paso area foster homes – FAQ’s
Updated Sept 2019
What type of couple makes the best foster care parents?
Generally, the best foster parents are caring, financially stable adults who understand the unique needs of children who have experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of their parents or caregivers and it unsafe for them to remain in their homes. The best understand it’s not just about providing room and board, it’s about nurturing.
More specifically, when considering the best foster parent placement for any individual child, CPS first looks for a placement that matches the individual needs of each child. The match proceeds based on staff’s knowledge of the skills and abilities of each family. Again, the primary consideration is the family’s ability to meet the child’s needs. There are many issues staff consider when making placement decisions. They include: the child’s best interest, the child’s permanency plan, the caregiver’s ability to meet the child’s needs, close proximity to the child’s home, placement with siblings, the child or youth’s preferences, and preservation of the child’s ethnic identity.
How great is the need for foster care parents?
Here’s what we are seeing statistically.
5 YEAR SNAPSHOT Children in ALL Substitute Care (ages 0-17) includes foster/kinship care
El Paso County
Sept 2019 332
Sept 2018 339
Sept 2017 336
Sept 2016 376
Sept 2015 369
Total number of Licensed Foster Homes – El Paso County (DFPS & Private Agency Homes)
Sept 2019 165
Based on these figures, we’ve been averaging 300 plus children in substitute care (State conservatorship) in the El Paso area per year. FYI – the number of kids in foster care at any given time is a “fluid” figure that increases or decreases based on how individual cases develop, family reunifications, adoptions, etc.
We are always actively looking to increase foster home capacity with more qualified, loving foster homes to help care for children (whether temporary or long term) who have entered the foster system due to abuse/neglect. Foster homes do vary based on “levels of care” they can provide – basic, moderate, specialized and intense. Ideally, we’d like to have a good mix of all these types of foster homes to provide to the best possible placement for a child based on their specific needs.
Fortunately, we do have a very strong kinship program (placing children with appropriate relatives instead of foster care) which helps us make up for any lack of available foster home placements we might experience at any given time. But again, we’re always recruiting more qualified, loving foster parents in and do have monthly information meeting for anyone who might be interested. Here’s a link with meeting dates: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/Get_Started/Information_Meetings/10.asp
Also, the TARE website is an excellent, user-friendly resource to the requirements/steps to becoming a foster parent. Here’s the link: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/Get_Started/steps.asp
In order to become a licensed foster parent, parents must attend an informational meeting, educating potential parents about the required criteria. The next step is to fill out a parenting application; at this time background checks are run on everyone in the home. Parents must then go through “Pride Training,” which consists of 30 hours through a 5-week training course. It is through this training that parents become familiar with common situations they will face as foster parents. This is followed by a home study – a visit is made to the residence and all residents in the home are interviewed. Additionally, CPR, First Aid and trauma training are required. Potential foster parents also enlist in Star training, which informs them about the specifics of the health care their foster children will need. More details on the process of becoming a licensed foster/adoptive home, our Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) website is an excellent, user-friendly resource. Here’s the link: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_TARE/Foster_Care/default.asp
What are the key roles a foster family plays in the development of a foster child?
Quality foster homes provide structure, safety and peace for kids who just need a safe place to land for a little bit.
What is the average stay for a foster child in a foster home?
It varies widely and is based on how each individual case progresses to permanency. The focus is always permanency when a child enters the system. Permanency typically has 3 outcomes: family reunification, adoption, or permanent managing conservatorship with a relatives or another suitable individual.
Placement changes from one foster home to another foster can also occur due to things like:
1. Based on the children’s needs and as they either increase or decrease
2. Based on the foster parents ability or inability to care for children
3. Based on children’s wishes
4. Sometimes in an effort to reunify with siblings
5. When relatives are identified for placement
6. When there is a reunification
How many children (and from what age range) are waiting for foster parents?
Ages are 0-17. We keep stats on children “waiting for adoption” but not on those “waiting for foster parents” – when a child enters the system we have to find appropriate placement somewhere.
How much does it cost to become a licensed foster/adoptive parent?
The cost for the process is minimal. Home inspections run about $100; finger-printing runs $40 for each family member over the age of 14; and CPS pays up to $1200 in legal fees for the adoption of a child whose biological parents no longer have parental rights. Often times the legal fees do not exceed the amount of money the State is willing to pay.
Do the foster parents receive any type of financial help? If so, how much per child?
Foster parents do receive financial assistance. The basic rate is $27.07 per day. The parents are responsible for the child’s food, clothing, shelter, transportation, activities etc. from this reimbursement. There are some instances where it might be higher due to the higher needs of the child and additional duties required of the parents. Medical coverage is handled through the foster child’s Medicaid.
An adoptive parent is provide a monthly adoption assistance of $400 and sometimes a little higher, if the child’s needs were higher at the time of adoption. This is contingent on the child qualifying under federal guidelines for the assistance.
What if I can’t be a foster/adoptive parent, are there other ways I can help?
Not everyone can be a foster/adoptive parent, but there are plenty of ways to support foster families such as offering respite care, hot-cooked meals, or transporting kids to school or soccer practice. Some churches are helping by organizing foster parent nights out and connecting foster families with resources such as beds, car seats and shoes thru an online CarePortal.
Are there any trends?
Statewide, we’ve seen a trend of more “higher needs” kids entering the foster care system, many with intensive mental/behavioral issues and developmental delays.
Foster homes do vary based on “levels of care” they can provide – basic, moderate, specialized and intense. Most foster homes provide basic care, so finding placements that match these higher needs has been the biggest challenge we’re facing right now.
We have been trying to educate the community on the need for more foster homes (all levels of care) and DFPS is actively working with legislators to increase our foster capacity especially for those high needs kids with behavioral issues/developmental delays that require intensive care in Residential Treatment Centers & therapeutic group homes – we need more of both in all areas of the state, so we can keep kids close to home and meet their needs in their community.
Some legislators and other state leaders are looking to invest in programs that keep kids out of foster care or shorten their stays in out-of-home care. These include mental health services for children and their parents, parent education such as home-visiting programs, quality drug treatment, educational support for children and families, affordable housing, a robust and diverse transportation system and family nutrition. By investing in prevention programs that work, we are all joining together to help ease the strain on our foster care system.