2013-10-05 08:05:41 -
Foster In Texas, a program of Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSS), has issued an urgent appeal in North Texas for adult individuals or married couples to consider becoming foster parents to help stem the unrelenting demand for foster homes for infants, teens and sibling groups. The North Texas Region 3 area (19 counties) leads the state in every category of child abuse and neglect. There is a significant shortage of foster families in this region capable of and willing to foster infants, teens and sibling groups, and in response, Foster In Texas is seeking to recruit dozens of new foster families for those at-risk children by year end—and also bolster the number of families qualified for kinship care.
care is a term to describe abused children who are assigned to foster care with relatives, which is often an ideal solution,” said Betsy Guthrie, president and COO of LSS. “However, even relatives sometimes can’t or won’t take on the special burdens associated with foster care for infants, teenagers or multiple siblings, so this makes children in those groups harder to place. The solution is to recruit more non-related families who qualify as foster parents and who are willing to take on these at-risk groups.”
As of April 2013 there were 5,374 children placed in some sort of substitute care in Region 3. A large number of these children are placed with relatives in kinship care. Agencies such as Foster In Texas are finding that family members are struggling with caring for their kin because of “a lack of financial or housing resources.” The State of Texas provides financial support for foster care families, including for kinship care. However, families often find they need additional financial resources in particular for the infants, teenager and sibling groups, and as a result, there has become a growing need to find homes for this demographic.
“When the State places a child in a kinship home, many of these families are not aware that they are eligible for financial reimbursements,” said Guthrie. “It has become imperative that we spread the word that if relatives become a verified foster family they too will benefit from the financial and emotional support other foster families are given. So far this year, the combined total of placements by all the foster agencies in Texas has been 16,457 with only approximately 12,000 verified homes. This shows how desperately we need homes where children feel safe, secure and nurtured.”
Although there is a thorough review to qualify each applicant, foster parents do not need to be wealthy or married. Beyond meeting state requirements, they just need to be able to provide a nurturing environment and love children. They are provided in-depth training and have access to specialized ongoing resources, including trauma-informed care, 24-hour on-call support services, counseling and therapy for each foster child, paid respite care, and financial reimbursement.
To find out more about becoming a foster parent, contact Foster In Texas at (877) 747-8110 or visit www.fosterintexas.org.
ABOUT LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES OF THE SOUTH
Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. (LSS), a 501(c)(3) faith based nonprofit organization, is committed to serving people in need, including children, the elderly, the disadvantaged, and those affected by disasters in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. LSS is the largest provider of children’s residential care in Texas and currently serves more than 26,000 individuals annually. LSS programs include Foster In Texas (FIT) and Lutheran Adoption Services of Texas, as well as the operation of two residential centers, one emergency shelter, charter schools on three campuses, and five senior retirement communities in Texas. LSS also provides critical assistance and emergency response to those impacted by disasters and financial hardship. For additional information about LSS, its programs and mission, please visit us at www.lsss.org.
ABOUT FOSTER IN TEXAS
The mission of Foster In Texas (FIT) is to improve the lives of children who have been removed from their families due to neglect and/or sexual, physical or psychological abuse, by placing them in stable loving homes and providing therapeutic care as needed. FIT families are actively recruited and trained to foster basic needs children as well as infants, large sibling groups, troubled teens, and children with special medical needs.
FIT, a program of Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. (LSS), has a longstanding, award-winning* history of success serving vulnerable children and families, with offices in 15 communities throughout Texas: Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Richardson, El Paso, Fort Worth, Harlingen, Houston, Laredo, Lubbock, McAllen, Mesquite/Garland, San Antonio, Tyler, and Victoria.
Children are placed with FIT through Child Protective Services, Juvenile Probation Department, family placements and private referrals. FIT recruits, equips and supports foster families with an experienced treatment team, a 24/7 support network and evidenced-based training and education programs.
The agency’s roots go back to 1881, and today LSS and FIT provide help, healing and hope to more than 26,000 people in Texas and Louisiana each year, regardless of religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender, or age. Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization supported by private donations, state and federal contracts, volunteer time, grants and fees collected for services.
*Awards include Caseworker of the Year, Child-Placing Agency of the Year (3 times), Foster Parent of the Year (2 times), National Foster Family of the Year, Therapeutic Foster Family of the Year, and Program Administrator of the Year.