Texas church groups hope to stem foster parent turnover

FILE - Children playing with toys (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Children playing with toys (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — High turnover plagues many aspects of the Texas foster care system as thousands of abused and neglected children wait for homes in Texas.

The Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, a faith-based child placement agency, says half of foster parents nationwide quit after the first year, 75 percent by the second year.

Kayla and Ryan North have taken on 30 foster children in their life, now they have six kids in the house. “It’s like going from man coverage to zone,” said Ryan.

They admit it can be a tough job. Many times they don’t know the specifics, but they know most kids come in after some kind of trauma. “The truth is, these kids need extra time to heal and we need to be prepared for that,” said Kayla.

The Norths spoke at the Capitol Wednesday on how to parent a child with a history of trauma and abuse as part of a faith-based foster care summit. The Department of Family and Protective Services, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and First Lady Cecilia Abbott hosted faith-based organizations from around the state. Lt. Gov. Patrick released a PSA at the Summit.

The head of Child Protective Services recognizes the limits of state resources.

“We need help. CPS needs help from the community and our leaders from across the state. What really resonated this morning was hearing the leaders of this state step up and call on the faith community,” said Kristene Blackstone, Associate Commissioner for Child Protective Services.

Scott Waller from Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services has two initiatives to get church congregations to donate to supplies, offer mentoring and mental health services, become licensed babysitters, or become foster parents. “One they felt isolated and unsupported and that was a real ‘ah ha’ moment for us,” said Waller, “Meals brought to them, respite, babysitting, transportation, tutoring, I mean basic issues make a huge profound difference as to whether they’re going to end up burning out and quitting.”

As this critical shortage continues, more than 6,000 Texas children — abused and neglected — wait for homes.

The state of Texas pays for the foster child’s health insurance, college tuition and pays a child care stipend to foster parents. There are four level foster children are classified: basic, moderate, specialized and intense. The higher the special needs of the child, the more money the state offers. It ranges from about $8,500 to around $33,000 a year.

November is National Adoption Month. To find out more about foster care and adoption, click here. 

To donate supplies or become more involved in the foster care support, click here. 

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