Foster In Texas (FIT) – an invaluable resource for kinship caregiver families!
About Kinship Care
Today, approximately one-fourth of the children in out-of-home care are living with relatives. That is almost 1 ½ million American children are being raised by relatives other than their parents. When a parent becomes too overwhelmed by life’s problems and circumstances to be a nurturing influence, the gap is often filled by someone in their own extended family – a brother or sister, or in some cases, godparents or close family friends (often referred to as “fictive kin”). Most often, however, it is the grandparents who step in, and the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren has soared in the last decade.
Family relatives are often not aware of the financial benefits they are eligible for and can receive.
The decision to care for one’s own nieces/nephews, brothers/sisters, grandchildren (and even great-grandchildren!) can bring dramatic changes to the lifestyle of the caregiver. It means another mouth (or mouths) to feed, and a lack of financial or housing resources holds many family members back, especially if their only income is a social security check. The most common reason relatives say they couldn’t care for kin was “a lack of financial or housing resources.”
Advantages of Kinship Care
The advantages of children remaining within the family in the face of a nuclear family breakup are so powerful that most family social workers now consider kinship care the preferred family arrangement over traditional foster care. Why?
- It provides the child with a familiar and stable living environment. The children will still feel sad and uprooted, of course, but will be comforted by familiar faces and surroundings.
- Family arrangements usually give children more stability; they are less likely to experience the numerous moves that children in foster care with nonrelatives frequently experience.
- Maintaining family connections and cultural traditions.
Formal vs. Informal Kinship Care
Formal kinship care involves:
- Daily financial reimbursement to help defray the costs of caring for the child.
- Training and licensure process for the caregivers.
- Medicaid benefits for the child.
- Extensive support services from a foster care agency like Foster In Texas.
Informal Kinship care involves:
- An open-ended, non-binding understanding within the family.
- When Child Protective Services is involved, only an assessment process to ensure the safety and suitability of the home along with supportive services for the child and caregivers.
Becoming a Verified Foster Parent
Relative caregivers have the option to become verified foster parents through the Permanency Care Assistance (PCA) program. The program requires relatives to become the child’s verified foster parent for at least six months. The court may then decide to grant Permanent Managing Conservatorship to the relative caregiver, therefore providing a more permanent placement option for the child.
Becoming a verified foster parent requires more work on the part of the relative caregiver—such as additional training and meeting more rigorous standards—but it also provides significantly increased benefits.
To be approved as a kinship caregiver, individuals or families must:
- Have a child placed in their home by Child Protective Services (CPS);
- Complete the verification process through a child placing agency like Lutheran Social Services Foster In Texas, to become foster parents for their related child;
- Serve as the child’s foster parent(s) for at least six months;
- Negotiate and sign a Permanency Care Assistance (PCA) Agreement with DFPS; and
- Go to court and receive Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) or adoptive placement if desired.
Why Choose LSS-Foster In Texas (FIT)?
Relative caregivers in the PCA program have the option to work with a private foster care agency. LSS-FIT foster parents work closely with the child’s Foster Care Team to put together the pieces of the foster care puzzle and ease the transition for both the child and kinship caregivers. The advantages to working with LSS-FIT:
- Focus on speedy verification process
- Customizable, flexible, primarily online training schedule to fit your schedule
- Paid respite (you get paid while you take a break)
- Grant money available for children’s clothing
- LSS-FIT cares for more hundreds of foster children each day through its award-winning foster care program.
- Individualized attention and coordination of care services for each child.
- A support network available to foster families 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergency consultation and services.
- Each local foster care office, in 14 locations throughout Texas, conducts its own events and support groups.
- FIT reputation for having the most knowledgeable, effective case workers.
- LSS is the largest provider of children’s services an d the only provider in Texas to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
Requirements to Become a Verified Foster Parent
Before Child Protective Services places a child with a relative, the relatives will have to complete a home study and background check. Requirements:
- 21 years or older
- No criminal history, or have proof of rehabilitation
- No child abuse history
- High school diploma, GED, or passage of screening test
- Emotionally and physically healthy
- Home must meet fire and safety guidelines
- Home must have room for additional children
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident