The number of children in foster care in Texas was 26,741 as of August 2010, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Children removed from their families due to potential or actual abuse or neglect are placed in the legal custody of the DFPS. The agency serves as the conduit for all federal, state, local and private funds designated to meet the foster child’s needs.
Foster Parent Categories
DFPS oversees the youth foster care system in Texas through its Child Protective Services (CPS) division, guided by rules written by the Texas State Legislature in the Texas Administrative Code. Court-ordered kinship foster placements with relatives or close family friends, called fictive kin, qualify for monthly reimbursement through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, based on family income and size. They may also receive a one-time integration payment of $1,000. Other possible reimbursement comes from sources such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or child support. Kinship caregivers who become verified foster parents receive foster care assistance paid at the daily rate set for foster homes accepting non-relatives, which include foster family homes — primary residences licensed to care for six or fewer children — and foster group homes that care for seven to 12 children or young adults.
CPS determines the service needs of foster children, using a system of four care levels, assigning each level a different daily monetary rate of reimbursement. Foster parents receive training and are approved for specific service levels, matching caregivers’ abilities with foster children’s needs. As of Sept. 1, 2009, Basic Service Level foster families received $22.15 per day, Moderate Service Level children received $38.77 per day and Specialized Service was reimbursed at $49.85 per day. Eligibility for services is reassessed every six months and CPS caseworkers make quarterly assessments of verified foster homes.
As court-appointed managing conservator, DFPS receives all income due each child in foster placement and deposits it into the appropriate regional Children’s Income Account (CIA), based on the child’s current location. Regional CPS Accounts Payable staff calculates the time spent in foster placement by each child and sends a check or electronic funds transfer to each foster family, usually on the 20th of the month following the month the reimbursement covers. TAC rules also address correcting over- or under-payments. If the child’s income is not sufficient to cover the designated daily reimbursement rate, foster care maintenance funds make up the difference. These funds are provided under the federal Title IV-E of the Social Security Act for children who would meet the eligibility requirements for Aid to Families with Dependent Children. State-paid foster care assistance fills the gap for children in DFPS care who are not eligible for Title IV-E assistance.