Our very own Betsy Guthrie, presdient and chief operating officer for LSS, and Stracy Cook, a wonderful foster parent in our Foster In Texas program, appeared together on the KDFW FOX4 Good Day morning program hosted by Lauren Przybyl. Good Day is broadcast throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area and the topic of conversation was the urgent need for more foster families in Texas. Click here to watch the segment.
Stracy has fostered 16 children to date, has adopted three foster children, and hopes to adopt more. She is served by Foster In Texas out of our Garland office.
The North Texas Region 3 area (19 counties) leads the state in every category of child abuse and neglect. There is a significant shortage of foster families in this region capable of and willing to foster infants, teens and sibling groups, and in response, Foster In Texas is seeking to recruit dozens of new foster families for those at-risk children by year end—and also bolster the number of families qualified for kinship care.
“Kinship care is a term to describe abused children who are assigned to foster care with relatives, which is often an ideal solution,” said Guthrie. “However, even relatives sometimes can’t or won’t take on the special burdens associated with foster care for infants, teenagers or multiple siblings, so this makes children in those groups harder to place. The solution is to recruit more non-related families who qualify as foster parents and who are willing to take on these at risk groups.”
As of April 2013 there were 5,374 children placed in some sort of substitute care in Region 3. A large number of these children are placed with relatives in kinship care. Agencies such as Foster In Texas are finding that family members are struggling with caring for their kin because of “a lack of financial or housing resources.” The State of Texas provides financial support for foster care families, including for kinship care. However, families often find they need additional financial resources in particular for the infants, teenager and sibling groups, and as a result, there has become a growing need to find homes for this demographic.
“When the State places a child in a kinship home, many of these families are not aware that they are eligible for financial reimbursements,” said Guthrie. “It has become imperative that we spread the word that if relatives become a verified foster family they too will benefit from the financial and emotional support other foster families are given. So far this year, the combined total of placements by all the foster agencies in Texas has been 16,457 with only approximately 12,000 verified homes. This shows how desperately we need homes where children feel safe, secure and nurtured.”
Although there is a thorough review to qualify each applicant, foster parents do not need to be wealthy or married. Beyond meeting state requirements, they just need to be able to provide a nurturing environment and love children. They are provided in-depth training and have access to specialized ongoing resources, including trauma-informed care, 24-hour on-call support services, counseling and therapy for each foster child, paid respite care, and financial reimbursement. To find out more about becoming a foster parent, contact Foster In Texas at (877) 747-8110 or visit www.fosterintexas.org.