In Texas alone, there were 27,895 children in state custody at the end of 2015. In Central Texas, 1,600 children are in foster care, many without homes yet. The need for caring foster families is great, but too many people are unwilling to take the risk, afraid of constant scrutiny by DFPS (Department of Family and Protective Services) or worried that a child placed with them may have greater needs than they can handle. Their concerns are legitimate, but the need is greater still. These kids are worth the risk.
Children are in care because of several reasons; many come from homes with domestic violence, drug use, neglect, or abandonment. Others have been removed from unsafe or unsanitary homes. Still others have parents who committed crimes and are now incarcerated. Parents of these children receive notice through an affidavit and official court hearing that they are in danger of losing their parental rights. The lives of these children hang on a thread of hope. They are vulnerable, fragile, angry, devastated, confused, betrayed, resentful, isolated and hopeful.
Every child deserves a safe, nurturing home where they grow, learn, and belong. DFPS does not remove children unless absolutely necessary because removal will leave scars that no amount of time and healing will erase. Trauma follows removal as children learn to accept their new home. They have questions that we have no answer for. “How long will I be here? Why did they take me away from my mommy? Do my parents still love me? When will I go home? Can I stay with you forever?” That last question hurts the most because you realize the desperation they must feel and how bad things really were for them at home. Foster parenting allows us the opportunity to provide stability and the basic necessities of life to a child, possibly for the first time in that child’s life.
The shortage of foster families results in additional hardships and trauma for the children who suffer too much already. If a home is not available, the caseworker may have no choice but keep the child at the DFPS office overnight until they can find an available home. Increasingly, children in Texas are forced to sleep in offices for two days or more because a foster family cannot be immediately located. In fact, hundreds of children have suffered in this way in recent months. Children are often sent to group homes, receiving much less supervision and care. At other times, children sleep in hotel rooms under DFPS supervision for days until a home is found. I am hopeful that more families will come forward to offer a safe haven to children desperately in need.
Please contact DFPS for more information.
Address: 14000 Summit Dr #100, Austin, TX 78728
Phone: (512) 834-3195
“Foster Care Statistics.” Pathways Youth Family Services RSS. Department of Family and Protective Services, 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
“Texas Needs More Foster Parents Right Now, CPS Says.” Texas Hill Country. N.p., 15 July 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
Bien, Calilly, and Phil Prazan. “Texas Children Sleeping in State Offices Due to Foster Parent Shortage.” WNCN. CBS, 10 June 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.