A family environment is critical to helping heal children who have previously experienced trauma, allowing them to be enveloped in a loving and consistent routine and remain with siblings and other family members. From a more practical perspective, foster families offer a far better and significantly less expensive alternative to group placements, but only if they are well supported” (Annie E. Casey Foundation 2016). http://www.aecf.org/resources/a-movement-to-transform-foster-parenting/
A number of stakeholders we spoke with emphasized the importance of engaging the faith-based organizations as part of a targeted, collaborative recruitment effort. These comments echo national experts who view faith communities as ideal places to recruit foster families, given the emphasis on helping others as part of the ministry of the community. National studies also indicate that those individuals connected to a faith community are more likely to respond and follow-through as foster parents” (Mission Capital, 2016). https://missioncapital.org/download/foster-family-gap-analysis/
The local church is the most robust service delivery system in America. It has vibrant ministries, caring congregations and essential infrastructure. Plus, it has the size and influence to solve the foster care crisis in this country. There are more than 200,000 Christian churches and an estimated 100 million evangelical Christians nationwide. Each has a biblical responsibility to care for their community’s orphans and to reach hurting parents as called for in James 1:27. Now, consider this: If one out of every 100 professing Christians in America would assume the care of a foster child, there would be no foster care crisis in America” (Hancock, Bill R. 2009). http://www.faithbridgefostercare.org/media/1042/changing-foster-care-in-america-white-page.pdf
WHY SUPPORT GROUPS?
One study found that faith or support from a faith-based community was a key factor identified by foster parents as promoting successful fostering” (Brown, 2008). http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10826-007-9172-z
A national study revealed that foster parents who heard about fostering through large scale media campaigns did not serve as long as those who had found out about fostering through a religious institution” (Casey Family Programs 2014).http://calswec.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/uploads/effective_practices_in_foster_parent_recruitment_and_retention.pdf
WHY IS LOCAL FOSTER CARE IMPORTANT?
Keeping children within their own community and relying on the community for services and support has been a part of good child welfare practices for decades” (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2009). http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/acloserlook/community/community3/
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE
Why is the Alliance needed?
The state has legal responsibility for children in foster care, the church has the call to care for children and families impacted by the foster system and various community organization serve along the continuum but they often serve in isolated silos. The Alliance serves as a collaborative network to create a coordinated system of More Than Enough for children and families impacted by the foster system. We support, equip and encourage the church in fulfilling the orphan care call and connect them with community resources and needs.
Are you a foster or adoption agency (Child Placing Agency)?
No! We serve the church! We fill the gap between state, church and community resources while also filling the other service gaps for children and families in our community.
How are you funded?
The Alliance is a faith based, non-profit (501c3) (currently as a dba under San Antonio Marriage Initiative). We do not receive any money from the state or federal government. Our organization is funded via private donors, family foundations, grants and modest church support. Our donors see the value in creating a network of resourced, equipped and connected churches and community to serve children, youth and families impacted by the foster care system.
ABOUT FOSTER CARE
What is foster care and who needs it?
Foster care is temporary care for children who have often experienced abuse and neglect. Appropriate family members are sought first and throughout the process but when they are unable to serve then children are placed in verified non-relative foster care homes.
What is a foster parent?
A safe, loving, trained person who not only provides basic necessities for a child but who also helps children heal through connection, attachment and advocating for the child.
How do children come into foster care?
Child Protective Service (CPS), a division of Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) investigates reports of suspected child abuse and neglect and removes children from threatening emergency situations with judge approval.
Who decides that a child needs foster care?
A judge decides to keep a child in foster care at a 262 hearing soon after removal.
What is the goal of foster care?
The goal of foster care is reunification of a child with his/her biological parents/family whenever possible. A judge decides when, or if, it is safe to return a child to his/her biological parents.
Who can be a foster parent?
Foster parents can be young married couples, established families, empty-nesters, singles or grandparents from all ethnic and educational backgrounds. A family’s economic status will be reviewed as part of the qualification process, as you must be able to care for a child without it creating undue economic hardship. You can be single, live in an apartment, work full time and still be a foster parent.
What is required to become a foster parent?
Foster parents must show an adequate income to meet their needs, have appropriate living space that meets safety regulations, be fingerprinted for a criminal background clearance, and be in good physical and mental health with the stamina to care for children. You also have to go through 35 hours of training to help you understand trauma, the system, how to work with biological family and many other topics to help you serve children better.
Is there a need for foster parents?
Yes! Our community is in a crisis. We move over 1,000 children out of our area every year, fill up shelter beds and even air mattress on the floor of DFPS offices due to lack of foster homes.
Do foster parents get financial help to care for the children?
Yes! Once a child is placed, the foster family will receive daily reimbursement rate of $20-25 dollars for a basic level child. The money is to help cover food, clothing, transportation, and activities. Children also receive state funded health and dental care from approved providers.
Can children in foster care be homeschooled, go to private school, go to school in my district?
They cannot be homeschooled and typically go to the public school the foster family is zoned for. A foster family can choose to send the child to a private school with state approval but they must pay for it.
Can we take children in foster care on vacation with us?
Yes! And you absolutely should. The state and often your agency need to know about and sometimes approve overnight vacations.
How do I pick a foster/adopt agency?
- Ask other foster families!
- Interview the agency.
- What is your verification process? (the shortest training is often a red flag!) You need training and if they are speeding people through training it often means they have ill equipped families.
- Do you teach us about trauma and give us practical tools to help the children we may serve heal?
- How do you support your foster families?
- How many disruptions (families asked for a foster child to be moved) have you had in the past 3 years? (this is often very telling of how well the agency is training and supporting their families and making good matches of children into their foster homes)
- Do you go to court with me?
- Are you a faith based agency? (if this is important part for your family)
- Do you help us find babysitters, respite, providers or connect us with support groups?
- How long have your staff been at the agency? (high turnover is also often a red flag)
- How long does it take to get verified? (typical is 2-4 months)
Do I need to be an American Citizen to offer foster care in my home?
Interested families must have a Social Security Number.
What behaviors might I anticipate from a child removed from their family?
The common denominator for children in care is grief and loss, even when removed from very difficult and abusive circumstances. Additionally, children in care may also face emotional and psychological challenges as they try to adjust to new and often changeable environments. Children may exhibit signs of depression, aggression, fears, or withdrawal. It is important to be attuned to the child’s behaviors. Many services and supports are available to help you and the children.
What is a background check and will I be FBI fingerprinted?
Background checks and FBI fingerprinting are meant to protect children. You will have to have a background check and FBI fingerprinting, as does any person living in the home over the age of 14.
What is a Home Study?
A home study is time spent in your home with the licensing worker. The study asks a lot of personal questions, but helps make sure that foster children will be taken good care of in your home and also helps the licensing worker find out what type of child would do well in your home. The home study helps both you and the worker understand issues that may impact your parenting style and skills. It is an important tool and most valuable to you if you embrace it as an opportunity for self-reflection. The study is done in private and all information is kept confidential.
What is the purpose of taking my foster child to visitations with their biological parents?
The primary goal of short term foster care is family reunification, whenever possible. The main goal of a family visit is for the child and birth parent to ultimately be reunified. Visitation allows social workers a glimpse into the family dynamic and the opportunity to see what is working and what is not working as a family unit. The workers can then make plans for change. Visits also allow for the parent to see that their child is being taken care of and for the child to see that their mom or dad is okay as well.
What supports exist for Foster Parents?
A variety of supports are generally available. These range from Support/Resource Groups and sharing with others on the same journey, mentor programs, engaging with family and friends, utilizing clinical supports and interventions such as therapists, case managers, in home services, etc. Please check with your social worker to determine the best needs and supports for your child. It is strongly recommended that a support program be put together for a child in a thoughtful and proactive fashion…especially if the child has been in care previous to joining your family.
If I foster a child can I still adopt?
Yes! If a child’s parental rights have been terminated by a judge, that child can be adopted. Current foster families are asked first. Other individuals interested in adopting must foster the child for 6 months before they can petition to adopt.
Can I adopt a waiting child without becoming a foster parent?
No, you have to foster a child for 6 months even if their parents parental rights have been terminated. So, you must be a verified foster family to adopt.
Are there children waiting to be adopted now?
Yes! There are over 800 children in our area waiting for a forever family. You can meet some of the waiting children at: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Application/TARE/Search.aspx/NonMatchingSearchResults
How long does it take for the adoption process to finalize?
After fostering the child for 6 months and petitioning the courts to adopt, the process can take 2-6 months for the state to complete.