EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It’s National Foster Care Awareness Month and El Paso is in need of more foster parents to help children.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, as of April 2019, there were 2,888 children in foster care from ages 0 to 17.
This number is constantly changing. However, the number of licensed foster homes in El Paso County remains low. As of April 2019, the number of foster homes was 158.
In the State of Texas, Protective Services has seen a trend of more “higher needs” children entering the foster care system, many with intensive mental or behavioral issues and developmental delays. Matching them with families is one of the biggest challenges.
“We place them in what we believe is the best home possible for that child,” said Oscar D. Millan the Area Director of A World For Children. “Yet that child only views us as strangers because they don’t know us. We may only have the best intentions but for them, it’s such a clash of emotions. Kids are scared, they are anxious, they are hurt, because they were just separated from their biological families and they are being placed in this strangers home.”
If you’re not considering becoming a foster, you can help children being neglected or abused, by reporting incidents. During the school months, Protective Services receive more calls from concerned teachers, that is used as their first line of defense.
“That’s going to be red flags for the school and everyone in the school system so that’s really, a lot of times, the first line of defense,” said Millan. “Then the public, if the public sees a child that is being abused or neglected, it is our Texas duty as citizens of the state to go ahead and call it in. But when kids come back from school we do see a little bit of a spike from those calls that come in.”
Good news though, in El Paso the number of children in foster care has gone down over the years. Millan said that’s due to the state being able to place more children with family members and first of kin.
Millan urges anyone who feels they want to become a foster to attend a World For Children foster orientation. Knowing that they will receive the support they need to make it a successful fostering experience. He says the qualities foster parents must have is patients, nurturing, consistency and have discipline.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can visit www.dfps.state.tx.us.