Blog

Aug27

Three Most Commonly Asked Questions About Foster Care

Posted by Brenden Scott || Category(ies): Foster In Texas
Foster Care FAQs

People interested in becoming foster parents often ask the same questions

Foster Care FAQs

In 2013, the state of Texas identified more than 67,000 children who were victims of abuse and neglect from Child Protective Services (CPS) validated cases alone. The need for qualified foster parents is greater than it’s ever been before, and Texas needs your help finding a safe place for these children to stay while their cases are being worked through.
To help you decide if becoming a foster parent is right for you, I have answered three of the questions we are most frequently asked.

Q: What are the income requirements to become a foster parent?

A: You don’t have to be rich to be a foster parent. Most families who foster are middle class families with incomes at or near the national average. Parenting can be expensive, but the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) provides reimbursement to families to help cover the daily costs associated with caring for foster children. Foster children also have their own health insurance and receive free access to any services that they require. Families who work full time can even have day care costs covered by DFPS. To cover the costs of clothing and shoes, Foster In Texas provides families with $150 per child at placement and then quarterly. Incentives are also given to families willing to work with teenagers, sibling groups, and children with special and primary medical needs. If you are able to pay your own bills and aren’t on any government assistance, you will likely meet the requirement to foster.

Q: How much space do I need?

A: DFPS has a set of guidelines that all agencies and verified foster families must follow in order stay available for placement. Collectively these are referred to as the “Minimum Standards.”

The minimum standards specify that “each foster child must have at least 40 square feet of space if sharing a room, or 80 square feet of space if they room alone.” You can house up to four foster children in one room; at 40 square feet per child, you would need a 160 square foot room for four. Of course, there are other factors that affect where children can stay in your home: gender, age and individual tendencies and behaviors. It is also important to consider whether or not a child would have adequate space to store personal items. Closet space and a dresser should be available to each child. Each room designated for foster children must also have a window to the outside and a door for privacy. If you have a spare 8 x 10 room with a window and a closet, you have enough room to house at least two foster children.

Note: Foster children can share a room with biological children with CPS approval.

Note 2: Infants under the age of one may stay in a crib in the foster parents’ room.

Q: How long do children usually stay?

A: The length of time a child spends in substitute care will vary widely. Some will be in care for a few days. Others may stay in care for months or years. Ultimately, this is determined individually by the nature of each child’s case.

Some biological parents are able to work service plans given to them by DFPS and their kids will be returned to them in a reasonable amount of time. Others may not be given that chance, or may not seize the opportunity. DFPS’ goal is always to reunify children with their biological parents as long as it is possible to do so while maintaining the well-being of the child. If it is determined that it won’t be possible to reunify a child with his/her biological parents, and if there are no relatives who are willing or able to care for the child, he/she will become legally free and available for adoption. If a foster home already has placement of the child and is adoption-motivated, they usually will get the first chance to become that child’s forever home.

While it can be hard to see the children come and go, it’s important to remember that you are making a huge difference any time you provide a safe place for the children who need it most. If you don’t do it … who will?

LSS Foster in Texas has a wonderful staff available to help answer all of your questions about becoming a foster parent. Fill out an online inquiry form or call 817-747-8110 to learn more.

Aug25

A Foster-to-Adopt Story

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Foster Care, Foster Parents

Editor’s Note: Joshua Mauk works for LSS as part of our development team. Thanks to Josh and his family for allowing us to share their wonderful story.

Friday August 15th, 12:30 pm

We arrived early to make sure we looked good and had enough time to sign a mountain of last minute paperwork provided by our lawyer and the department of family protective services. My wife and daughter were both wearing very colorful dresses and I accidentally dressed like a leprechaun….again. I can’t help it. I like vests and ties. Our daughter’s boyfriend was there to show his support and to provide some amateur videography.  We sat down after going through the security checkpoint at Gardner Betts Travis County Juvenile Court. We were all nervous, but I knew there were many more emotions swirling in my daughter’s mind. Excitement. Uncertainty. Fear. Joy. All crashing like waves into the hope that she had when we first met her just over a year ago. Her hope has been to belong somewhere. To be part of a family. She once said at a Circles of Support meeting that she wanted nothing more in the world than to be “Kept.”

One by one friends, family, former staff, case managers, CASA Volunteers, and pastors showed up to gather before we proceeded into Courtroom A to make this thing final. She received inspiring notes, cards, and gifts from those familiar faces, some she hadn’t seen in years. Someone also brought a giant chocolate chip cookie with her new name written in hot pink butter cream icing.

As we wrapped up the placement paperwork which relinquished the State from being completely responsible for her well-being, I made an announcement that we would appreciate as many photos being taken as possible.  We asked the crowd post the photos and  tag us on Facebook.

We proceeded into a large courtroom that had been decorated with stuffed animals. I took note of a stuffed Manatee which I had never seen before in plushy form. The energy was rising and we all took our places. I sat down to her left and my wife was on her right. She grabbed both of our hands and didn’t let go till the very end. Our guests packed the courtroom and we listened to the instructions of our lawyer. Soon the bailiff asked us all to rise, and a pair of robes came walking out to the bench. They explained that they usually don’t have two judges preside over these hearings, but today was a special day because our daughter was very special to them.

They sat and briefly explained why we were all there. Then our lawyer asked her team some questions. She then asked us some questions. She then took testimony from every person sitting in the courtroom. Tears were swelling in every eye as each story was told about how she is loved and how her future is nothing to fear now. She heard so many kind words about us and about herself and when I looked at her I knew she was overwhelmed with support.

The final questions were for her. She was asked if this was something she wanted and if she thought it would be the best thing for her. She nodded and smiled. She looked at both of us and we all hugged. My wife was very strong and only cried a whole lot. As did I.

Then something unique happened. It was like the most delicious icing on the most delicious cake every made. The judge asked our girl if she was still interested in Criminal Justice as a Career choice. She smiled again and nodded and the judges who had known her for eight years asked her to come up to the bench. I think she thought she was in trouble, but she stood up and moved to the ramp that led to the bench. The judges stopped her and whispered something to her. They placed a judge’s robe on her shoulders and asked her to sit in their seat. Then with the most amazing smile I have ever seen, she picked up the gavel and declared,  “ADOPTION GRANTED!”

After my wife and I decided to become verified  foster-to-adopt parents, we did not know we would be adopting a 16-year-old girl; however, when we met her last year at a foster family picnic, we knew that we needed to be whatever it was she needed us to be. We finished up our training and had a home study done. Once all the paperwork was finalized, she was placed in our care. That was 10 months ago and now she is forever part of our family. We will never forget the effort it took to make it work as a family, and now we know that it is possible to bring a stranger into your home and grow into a forever family.

If we can do it, so can you. Fourteen hundred children age out of foster care in Texas every year, without ever finding a forever family. Please consider becoming a forever home for a child that needs just a little bit of love and support in order to make it to the next chapter in their life. Contact a Foster In Texas office near you to start the process to become a licensed foster home.

Aug22

Foster Parent Appreciation in Amarillo

Posted by Brenden Scott || Category(ies): Amarillo, Foster Care, Foster Parents
Foster Parent Apprection

While the event was intended to recognize our wonderful foster parents in Amarillo, the kids had plenty of opportunity for a good time.

Foster in Texas’ Amarillo office held their annual Foster Parent Appreciation Event this past weekend. Families had a blast playing in the water, having their faces painted and meeting new friends. Thanks to a generous donation from Anderson Merchandisers, all of the families went home with a few new DVDs.

Laura, Ali and Sheena, the local Foster in Texas Team for Amarillo, would like to give a big thanks to Anderson Merchandisers, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran’s Mountaintoppers for making the day a huge success!

There is a statewide shortage of foster families capable and willing to foster infants, teens and sibling groups. If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a child, please fill out an interest form today! A FIT team member from one of our 14 Texas offices will be more than happy to visit with you.

Special thanks to Anderson Merchandisers, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, and Trinity Lutheran for their support.

Special thanks to Anderson Merchandisers, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, and Trinity Lutheran for their support.

 

Aug12

Back-to-School Bash for Dallas-Area FIT Families

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Foster Care

[story by Rebekah Poling, Associate Vice President, Agency Advancement]

ntx bts backpacks - richardsonI think we can all agree that FIT families, food, and FUN go together like peanut butter and jelly. We just had a back-to-school bash for our foster children and parents in the Dallas area, and because of our generous volunteers and church partners, each foster child got a new backpack, filled with school supplies. The foster parents brought their kids to pick up their supply-filled backpacks and enjoy dinner with their fellow families and our LSS-FIT caseworkers.

Our friends at Foodtronix donated a yummy meal for the families, the FIT staff provided drinks, and a thoughtful foster mom brought a massive cake for everyone. The “come-and-go” event was held at the Richardson foster care office, and was topped off with ice cream!Our “Christmas in July” donation drive made this all possible, and the kids enjoyed making thank-you cards for the participating churches. I want to shout out a big THANK YOU to: Our Savior Lutheran Church in Rockwall, St. Peter Lutheran Church in Roanoke, King of Glory Lutheran Church in Dallas, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Garland, St. Peter Lutheran Church in Bowie, Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Southlake, Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Colleyville, Bethel Lutheran Church in Dallas, Hogan Financial Systems in Flower Mound, Rejoice Lutheran Church in Frisco, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Tyler, along with Erica and Ken Stauver, Lorraine and Bob Fuller, and Gary Halberstadt. 

ntx bts Hogan financial

Aug08

Appreciation Dinner for our DFW-Area Foster Families

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Uncategorized

ntx dinner set up (3)[story by Rebekah Poling, Associate Vice President of Development NTX]  

A group of spectacular volunteers made a regular July evening very memorable for our Dallas-area Foster In Texas parents.

Foodtronix (an IT company based in Grapevine that works with independent restaurants to streamline their operations) was able to have all of the food for the evening donated. As the foster parents arrived at First United Methodist Church of Richardson, they dropped off their children and foster children at the babysitting station, and then headed to the dining area where a full-course Italian meal awaited them. The FIT staff had transformed the space and decorated each table, while volunteers acted as servers for the evening. Every family received a gift basket with all the fixin’s for a fun movie night. The FIT staff had some very special words to share in appreciation of the amazing work our FIT parents do.

ntx 2 volunteers and baby (4)Moms and daughters of the National Charity League of Richardson came to provide childcare for our parents so they could enjoy the evening fully. The kids in childcare ate well too, as volunteers served up pizza and decorated cupcakes with the kids. They also had art projects on hand, and played outside with a water balloon launcher while enjoying snow cones and sports activities.

It was a wonderful evening that could not have taken place without the help of our LSS-FIT supporters and volunteers. Many thanks to the community partners and donors who made this event possible!

  • Foodtronix for the meal, activities, and volunteerism
  • First United Methodist Church of Richardson for the beautiful space
  • National Charity League for their volunteerism

ntx gift baskets (3) ntx check in (3)

 

 

Jul31

Family Vacations: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Foster Care

family travelsHere we are on the verge of August, and many family vacations are already in the rear-view mirror. If you still have a trip with the kids to look forward to, there are some great resources – and voices of experience – available for guidance. Everyone agrees that traveling with kids can be a challenge; that’s why whole books have been written on the subject. But can Mom and Dad have some fun too? When meeting the Disney princesses is your daughter’s obsession and Florida in the summer isn’t your idea of the perfect getaway?

A great website that lets users share their experiences with other families for better travel planning is realfamilytrips.com. Some places are more kid-friendly than others, and this is a deep site that includes been-there-done-that advice whether you know where you’re going or are still trying to decide.

Amazon’s list of best-selling kids’ travel books is well worth checking out, to keep entertain the kids on long trips where you need to keep them interested and engaged.

Of course, your mode of travel – on the road or in the air – determines a lot about how to prepare. It can be a toss-up whether cranky babies and preschoolers who don’t take well to being cooped up will do better with a road or plane trip. I think everyone agrees … the shorter the better. The beauty of a road trip is that when the going gets tough you can pull over, get out, and take a break.  Making fresh-air pit stops, where kids get a chance to run around outside, are usually well worth the extra time en route.

A few important things to remember, before you hit the road or the runway:

  • Check weather reports – so you’ll have the right clothes and won’t take up space with the wrong ones.
  • Check and double-check flight details (if flying) and hotel reservations – Was there a schedule change and you weren’t notified?
  • Snacks! String cheese and granola bars can go a long way when flight delays and traffic jams throw off meal schedules, and as treats/bribes for good behavior. An extra cookie might buy you an added 15 minutes of peace.
  • Paperwork, if applicable – e.g., a birth certificate if you have a lap traveler on a flight.
  • Your toddler’s much-loved stuffed toy or blanket.
  • Chargers and headphones for electronics; age-appropriate audiobooks can be lifesavers.
  • Don’t forget the fun.

Happy travels everyone!

Jul25

The Art Gallery at Krause Children’s Center

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Uncategorized

TKrause art 1he artistic talent at LSS residential treatment centers is amazing!  As a special treat, I am posting 12 pieces of art produced by the girls (ages 12-17) at Krause Children’s Center in Katy. With guidance from Ms. Gwen (GIGI), these kids have really outdone themselves, and had a ball doing it.

There will be an Open House at Krause in the coming months, where these works of art will be on display, and many will be for auction at the next Healing Hearts Gala benefiting Krause.

Enjoy!

*Krause Children’s Center, a program of Lutheran Social Services, is a therapeutic residential treatment campus for severely troubled and abused children, residing at Krause while they heal from the past and create a more hopeful future.

 

Krause art 2jpg Krause art 3 Krause art 5 Krause art 6 Krause art 6a Krause art 7 Krause art 9 Krause art 10 Krause art 11 Krause art 12 Krauseart 8

Jul18

NTX Foster Families had a Wild Time at the ZOO!

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Foster Care

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetWe had a wild and wonderful adventure this summer, when our DFW-area LSS-Foster in Texas families spent the day at the Dallas Zoo. We went on our own little safari as we toured the zoo, had a picnic, and were welcomed to the jungle by some amazing animals. I’m not sure who had the most fun … the kids who were seeing these exotic animals for the first time, the parents who were watching the sheer delight of their foster children, or the happy giraffes who were hand-fed an abundance of kibble!

Our friends and supporters at the Caring for Kids benefit held in May made this fun day possible. Foster children, their foster parents, and siblings all got to take the journey together through wildlife habitats around the world. They made some incredible memories to share for years to come.

A big THANK YOU to everyone from Caring for Kids who made a difference in the lives of faithful foster parents and deserving children all across the Metroplex.

We saw some cool cats.
We saw some cool cats.

 

"Baby Elephant Walk"
“Baby Elephant Walk”
We went neck-and-neck with a giraffe.
We went neck-and-neck with a giraffe
Jul14

Laredo Family Bowling Night

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Foster Care
Laredo FIT team, l to r: Jacqueline Verastigui, Mayra Guzman, Yenessy Najera, Patricia Leija, Edgar D. Ricalde

Laredo FIT team, l to r: Jacqueline Verastigui, Mayra Guzman, Yenessy Najera, Patricia Leija, Edgar D. Ricalde

The LSS-FIT Laredo Office hosted a Family Bowling Night at Jett Bowl North last week, for 15 foster families and about 40 little bowlers. The kids had a blast, and siblings placed in different foster homes had a chance to spend time and build memories together. Pizza and drinks all around, and  those gutter balls were long forgotten.

A big thanks to the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust, for providing funds for this activity.

I can do this ... I can do this ...

I can do this … I can do this …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gettin’ ready to make that spare…

Gettin’ ready to make that spare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait for it …

Wait for it …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YES!!

YES!!

Jul10

Healthy Choices Workshops for FIT Kids

Posted by Lonni Swanson || Category(ies): Foster Care

FIT Teen finance webThe Lubbock, Corpus Christi, and Laredo Foster In Texas (FIT) offices have recently hosted Foster Youth Workshops for the 14 to 18-year-old foster children in our program. Kelley Broadaway, FIT’s Statewide Clinical Director, is traveling across Texas to visit our FIT offices this summer, teaching “Experiential Life Skills,” and talking about the importance of maintaining healthy lifestyles and learning good financial practices.

This is such an important workshop for foster youth, to prepare them for transitioning out of the foster care system and into the next important phase of their young adult lives.

Ms. Broadaway requests that healthy snacks and meals be provided during the training. The Laredo workshop (pictured here) offered healthy veggie and fruit trays for snacks, bottled water, and healthy Subway sandwiches with baked chips.* The training also includes info about basic household upkeep, nutrition, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and reading labels and following recipes.

These teen workshops are about a lot more than food, however. Broadaway also discusses healthy financial choices with the teens. She conducts an activity where the kids pretend to move into their own apartment, and they have to predict how much their rent, utilities, monthly bills and “extras” will cost. The extras they always want to include are high-end cable, wifi, smart phones, money for entertainment, and a clothing allowance. Then they discuss the realities of minimum wage (or even a whopping $10/hour) and what comes out of a paycheck. After adding up all the monthly bills, they usually end up $500-1,200 in the hole.

Next, they brainstorm about how to cut costs—cheaper phone plan, drop HBO, get a roommate, cut clothing budget, etc. This exercise is always a big hit with the kids, Broadaway says.

The cost-of-living activity is followed up with a discussion about the difference, danger, and necessity of credit and debit cards, and the real-world topics of taxes, loans, checking vs. saving accounts, avoiding predatory lending practices, and credit scores.

Shouldn’t every teen take a class like this?

Kelley Broadaway’s schedule for upcoming Life Skills FIT workshops:

  1. Harlingen –  July 28
  2. McAllen –  July 29
  3. Victoria –  August 6

Laredo workshop*Funds from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust were used to purchase refreshments and door prizes for youth attending the Laredo workshop.

Follow us RSS
Foster In Texas® is a registered trademark. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Foster In Texas is a program of Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.