LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - New rules for foster care homes will go into effect in September. The department of family and protective services has voted to approve new safety rules designed to screen potential foster parents more thoroughly.
Carmen Garcia and her husband Jesus have been foster parents for the last four years. They have helped foster seven children, one of which they have now formally adopted. The new rules is something they both welcome.
"It's very important that it's safe here because they come from an unsafe environment. We have to provide them with the care, the nurturing, and of course we have to provide them with a new home."
The new rules require:
· An additional interview of a family member not living in the home.
· Two additional interviews of neighbors, clergy, school employees, and/or other community members.
· Interviews of all adult children of foster parents.
· An assessment of personal relationships of foster parents, and review of household finances.
· Review of any law enforcement agency calls to the foster home for the past two years.
· Verification of identity and background checks for any person designated as an emergency caregiver.
"It is important for foster parents to take the proper precautions to ensure that the children are entrusted in our care are safe and we take care of them. I think it's OK to have an additional requirement because we are held to higher standards."
The new rules are set to take place September 1, after a public hearing. These new rules are a result of an increase of abuse and neglect deaths among foster children. In the fiscal year 2013, eight children died from abuse and neglect in foster homes, compared to two the year before.
The prospective foster/adoptive parents may be single or married and must:
· 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,
· show proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable),
· 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.
The training provides an opportunity for the family and DFPS to assess whether foster care or adoption is best for the family. The family may withdraw from the meetings at any time. There is no charge for the meetings. Foster/adoptive parents generally train together.
Additional Foster Care Requirements
In addition to the basic requirements, foster parents must:
· have adequate sleeping space.
· allow no more than 6 children in the home including your own children or children for whom you provide day care.
· agree to a nonphysical discipline policy.
· permit fire, health and safety inspections of the home.
· vaccinate all pets.
· obtain and maintain CPR/First Aid Certification.
· obtain TB testing as required by the local Health Department for household members.
· attend 20 hours or more of training each year.
Responsibilities of Foster and Adoptive Families
· provide daily care and nurturing of children in foster care;
· advocate for children in their schools and communities;
· inform the children's caseworkers about adjustments to the home, school, and community, as well as any problems that may arise, including any serious illnesses, accidents, or serious occurrences involving the foster children or their own families;
· make efforts as team members with children's caseworkers towards reunifying children with their birth families;
· provide a positive role model to birth families and
· help children learn life skills.
· provide permanent homes and a lifelong commitment to children into adulthood;
· provide for the short-term and long-term needs of children;
· provide for children's emotional, mental, physical, social, educational, and cultural needs, according to each child's developmental age and growth;
· may become certified as a foster family and accept children who are not legally free for adoption, but whose permanency plan is adoption.