You have questions, we’re here to help you find the answers. Pathways has compiled a list of basic questions that many people starting the process of becoming a foster parent find themselves asking.
What is foster care?
Every year, the State of Texas removes on average 17,000 children from their homes due to severe neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and/or sexual abuse. After considering evidence, a judge grants conservatorship to the Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS), also known as Child Protective Services (CPS), which places children with private agencies such as Pathways. Pathways has contracts with DFPS and regional Single Source Continuum Contractors (SSCC) to provide safe, nurturing foster homes with the goal of fostering healing and growth in these children while working to return the child to their family or find another safe, permanent home.
Once the child is placed in a foster home, DFPS and the courts continue to assess what is in the best interest of the child. At times, children are returned to their biological family once they demonstrate 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 foster care. If the court terminates the rights of a child’s biological parents, a child may become available for adoption.
What types of homes does Pathways offer?
Pathways provides foster homes for boys and girls ages 0-17 all over North, Central, West, and South Texas. But fostering a child is not the same as parenting your own children. Children who have experienced the trauma 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 provides extensive training and support to ensure foster families are ready and able to handle a range of behaviors. 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, and the reward of helping a child is worth the work!
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 is not rushed. 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 3 to 6 months and is often determined by the family’s willingness and ability to complete required paperwork and various tasks in a timely manner.
What kind of support do I get as a foster parent?
When our staff identifies 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 child or children. Pathways has an experienced treatment team available to support your family, including licensed therapists, social workers, behavior specialists, and psychiatrists. In case of emergencies, Pathways case managers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Foster parents are also offered ongoing training opportunities throughout the year. Training 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 support needs.
What about paying for the child’s food, insurance, and clothing?
Pathways reimburses foster parents for most of the costs related to raising a child. The reimbursement rate is based on the level of care and needs of the child, which is determined by DFPS or SSCC. Levels of care differ based on the needs of the child. The lower the level of care, the more stable the child is. The higher the level of care, the more needs the child has, and so a higher rate of reimbursement is provided to cover the child’s additional needs. Reimbursement is calculated daily according to the number of days a child lives in the home, and payments are distributed twice a month.
Virtually all of the children placed in foster care are covered by Medicaid, which covers all primary medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health needs.
Can I adopt a foster child?
Yes. Many children are adopted from foster care each year, and families can 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 with whom they have not developed a relationship. 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 your local Pathways office or inquire online to receive additional information. We will provide you with an information 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.
It is also highly recommended that you RSVP for the next Foster Parent Orientation. This no-obligation meeting is the most effective way to learn more about foster care, ask questions, and decide if this is right for your family.
By becoming a foster parent with Pathways, you will make a lasting and profound difference in the life of a child, and perhaps, experience a personal feeling of fulfillment like no other.