EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The first Tuesday of May marks National Foster Care Day and if you would like to give a child a good home, foster parents are in need.
Program Director Tanya Berry oversees the foster and adoptive unit at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) in San Angelo region 9 and El Paso region 10.
Recent reports have shown there is a shortage of foster parents. Berry told KTSM they are always looking for foster parents who are willing to give a happy home to a child.
“It’s just a loving family, a network, support, somewhere safe and secure, that they can lay their head down and just know, I am okay here. This family is here to support me, to love me, to cheer me on. If I choose to be in an extracurricular activity. To help me with my homework, to feed me, just to provide that security, to something that we every day take for granted, is what we are looking for.” Berry said.
Medicaid is covered and emergency health care networks are paid for when a child comes from a traumatic home and the foster parents need help with therapy, according to Berry.
Protective services offer pre-service training, such as water safety, CPR First Aid, home study as well as background checks in passing the FBI fingerprints. Although the training is currently virtual, DFPS adds that they are looking to hold the training in-person again.
DFPS not only offers fostering to children from zero to 18 years old, but they also have adoption. The difference is foster is temporary and adopting becomes a child’s forever home.
Every foster parent will have a foster home developer and caseworker since most youths have gone through some trauma.
Berry said caseworkers are available to help foster parents
According to Berry, the children that have been in the foster care system can take advantage of the Texas Tuition waiver once they turn 18 years old. The tuition waives fees for any Texas public college or university for financial aid, scholarships, or grants. (This last sentence is a bit confusing)
Berry says they are always trying to work really hard, to make sure when their youth is leaving their system, they are leaving for a better situation.
“We do offer them to stay in what is called extended voluntary care, and they can stay at the age of 21 and if the youth chooses to leave, that we just don’t say okay bye, there you go. We want to help them look for housing, look for caring adults in their lives, that can be a support system for them. We have a partnership with HUD and although there might be a waiting list, we are trying to get our youth connected to have apartments that are paid for. So that they don’t exit to nothing,” Berry said.
Although there is not an exact number on how many times a child in foster care moves, it depends from case to case. Tanya said some foster kids stay in the same home while others move with a family member or to a different facility.
Anyone who wants to be a parent, can be a foster parent, doesn’t matter if you’re a single parent, a couple who cant have kids, or same sex couples, anyone can foster or even adopt, Berry explained.
DFPS is always looking for foster parents and if you are interested in changing a child’s life for a better life, head on to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website for more information on how to become a foster parent today.