Foster and Adoption FAQ

Who are the children in foster care?
Children of all ages and ethnicities are in foster care and need short and long-term parents. The most urgent need is foster and adoptive homes for teenagers and sibling groups of two or more. There are over 26,000 children and youth in foster care in Texas needing a supportive and committed family. Most children in foster care have experienced some form of abuse and/or neglect.

Children and teens removed from their biological homes due to neglect and abuse need loving and secure temporary and permanent parents and families to provide structure, guidance and good role modeling. Many of these young people have problems trusting adults, sharing attention from adults with other children and have issues with being able to attach to care givers. They need the commitment of skillful parents to see them through the normal milestones of development which may or may not be on target for their ages.

Do the kids have a lot of behavior problems?
Many of the children and youth in foster care have emotional issues surrounding the maltreatment by loved ones, loss of family, neighborhood and sometimes even siblings, and the effects of multiple placements with strangers.

Although many children in the system are resilient, others are sad and afraid of continued maltreatment, making some of them naturally suspicious, distrustful and they may have difficulty attaching to care givers. They need the commitment of skillful parents to see them through the normal milestones of development which may or may not be on target for their ages. Each young person has strengths regardless of what has happened to them in the past, and foster and adoptive parents are trained to engage those strengths in managing their behaviors.

What kind of training will I receive?
Foster and adoptive parents will receive a minimum of 35 hours of training, including the effects of abuse and neglect on a child’s brain development. With an understanding of the underlying issues of attachment and grief, foster and adoptive parents are able to help youth make sense of their lives and to manage poor behaviors. Foster and adoptive parents often report they experience a great deal of satisfaction watching the youth in their care heal as a result of the stability, safety and structure provided by them.

How is fostering and adopting with an agency different than fostering and adopting with Child Protective Services
Austin Children’s Shelter provide more intensive case management support, as well as therapists and 24/7 on-call support to all of their foster and adoptive families. The verification process is usually faster with a private agency, and CPS only verifies basic level families. This means that families who wish to parent children or youth with special needs will need to provide those services in association with a private agency such as Austin Children’s Shelter.

What are some other things I need to know?
Verification: The verification process includes all the requirements mentioned above plus a family’s ability to demonstrate that they meet all of the State’s Minimum Standards, can provide a safe home and therapeutic responses to the children in their care. We offer 5-7 pre-service classes a year, usually on Saturdays with some weekday evenings We also offer individualized make-up classes.

Matching Children and Parents: Austin Children’s Shelter invests a lot of time and energy into making the best possible matches between children and parents. Although we do not typically have a lot of information about younger children because they are frequently removed from their biological home as emergency placements, older children and teenagers are required to have pre-placement visits with you in your home so that you can assess if you are able to commit to the child. Available information about their behaviors and issues are shared with you in advance when possible.

For youth who move from the Austin Children’s Shelter residential programs into foster or adoptive homes, you will have the opportunity for multiple pre-placement visits and a chance to join them in their therapy sessions before they move. Once youth are placed in your home, we take great care to assist you to sustain the placement. As a team member with us, you agree to work diligently to keep a foster child in your care until the time permanence is established so that the child experiences fewer incidents of loss and instability.

Case Management: Each family in our program is assigned a Case Manager who will assist the family to manage the myriad of requirements involved in providing fostering and adopting services with excellence. We empower our foster and adoptive parents to become equal members of the treatment team, which requires close communication with them about the young people in their care and with CPS or others involved in the case. To further assist our families to parent well, the Case Manager is available to broker resources, provide individualized training to parents specific to the youth in their care, and obtain the needed documents and services from CPS to support a healthy fostering or adoption experience.

Discharging a foster child from your home: The loss of a foster child from your home, whether planned or unplanned, can be an emotionally draining experience for your entire family. Your Case Manager will assist you to manage that process professionally and be supportive of your experience through coaching and training. We are with you the entire way through this experience.

What is the difference between providing foster care only and being a foster family that eventually decides to adopt?
A: Many foster parents become verified as a foster family because they hope to eventually adopt a child or children into their family. For others, they want to be helpful to a youth during a difficult time while his or her own biological family receives services and training to heal the problems that caused the removal in the first place. Not all children and youth in foster care will be available for adoption – about 60% will return to their home or be placed with a relative.

When are the orientations
A: Orientations are twice monthly on Austin Children’s Shelter’s campus at 4800 Manor Road, Austin, TX 78723. Please RSVP if you plan to attend. Check out our events calendar for all available orientation dates.

Request more information about the program.

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