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Foster Care - Frequently Asked Questions

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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, to place the children with private agencies such as Pathways. Pathways has 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 biological 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?
Pathways provides foster homes for boys and girls ages 0-17 all over North, Central, West, and South 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.  Pathways staff 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, Pathways 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.

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 that Pathways has 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. Pathways also has an experienced Treatment Team available to support your family.  The Treatment Team may include licensed counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists.  In case of emergencies, Pathways Case Managers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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.

What about paying for the child's food, insurance, clothing?
Pathways 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.

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 and payments are received twice a month.

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, Pathways 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 inquire to receive additional information. We will mail you an informational packet and application. If you have any questions about the application, our staff will be happy to help you complete it.

Once the application is submitted, Pathways will contact you to schedule the additional interviews and training.

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

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