The number of people taking the first step toward becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Central Texas increased by more than a third in 2020, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services staff and community partners hold multiple meetings each year to inform prospective foster and adoptive parents of the path to taking in children who have been placed in the department’s care.
The meetings are a required first step to becoming a foster or adoptive parent.
A total of 1,558 people attended a meeting last year, marking a 36% increase over 2019, and the highest number of participants in the past five years, according to the department.
The number of people who attended in the past years are:
- 2020: 1,558
- 2019: 1,147
- 2018: 1,103
- 2017: 1,012
- 2016: 1,120
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services believes the increase in numbers are due in large part to the department’s shift to virtual meetings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DFPS staff held in-person meetings until mid-March, and halted meetings in April before shifting to web-based sessions in May.
"The increase in interest and participation in fostering and adoption means the department has a greater ability to increase the capacity to house children in foster care throughout the Central Texas region," DFPS said in a statement.
DFPS Foster and Adoption Supervisor Catie Hammond said of those attending the first-step informational meetings, more are continuing in the process and submitting applications to move on to the next steps.
In 2019, 36 families applied to become foster or adoptive families with DFPS in Central Texas. Last year, the number jumped to 97. In the first month of 2021, 16 families had already applied.
“Being able to increase attendance the way we have highlights that people are interested in this, and that we can build capacity so we have space and appropriate placements for children in need.”
Four virtual information meetings are scheduled for the following dates in February:
- Tuesday, Feb. 9, 12 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 17, 6:00 p.m.
- Thursday, Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m.
According to DFPS, prospective foster and adoptive parents may be single or married and must meet the following basic requirements:
- be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible mature adults,
- complete an application (staff will assist you, if you prefer),
- share information regarding their background and lifestyle,
- provide relative and non-relative references,
- agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members,
- allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household, and
- attend free training to learn about issues of abused and neglected children.
For more information on DFPS foster and adoption, call 1-800-233-3405, or visit here.
Specific information on upcoming virtual meetings and links are available online here.