Author: swilson

When foster care is needed, aunts and uncles often step in

A man reaching out for a hug from his son and a lady holding her daughter

Aunts and uncles play a critical role in the care and raising of many children. They are especially important to children in foster care because they often take on the responsibility of caring for children in their extended families who have been removed from their parents, helping those children stay connected to their own personal backgrounds and heritage.

July 26 is National Aunts and Uncles Day. At DePelchin, we want to use the day to express gratitude to all who provide kinship care, which is a type of foster care provided by relatives or close friends.

When children are removed from their homes, Child Protective Services (CPS) seeks first to place them with a relative. In 2021, 45% of Texas children taken into CPS custody were placed with kin, which can have many advantages: Placement with a relative can allow children to remain connected to their families, cultures, schools and communities. It also increases the likelihood that they will achieve “permanency” – adoption or a reliable relationship with the same family – before reaching adulthood.

Aunts and uncles, along with grandparents, are some of the relatives most likely to provide kinship care. These relatives often care for children who are difficult to place with traditional foster families, either because of their age or their unique needs, and thus play a key role in a state short on placements for children in foster care.

At DePelchin, we believe it is important for kinship caregivers to become licensed foster parents, which makes additional supports available to those families. We assign specialists to kinship caregivers to help them through the licensing process. Once they become licensed foster parents, kinship caregivers working with DePelchin have free access to services we provide to other licensed foster families, such as mental health services and parenting training.

If you or someone you know is providing kinship care and would like more information about DePelchin’s kinship care programs, please click here.

Thank you to the supporters who help us support kinship caregivers. Most importantly, thank you to the aunts, uncles, and other relatives who care for children in your extended families when they need it most.

Meeting the mental health needs of diverse communities

A child giving their mother a high five

July is recognized as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. As an organization that provides a variety of mental health services for children and adults, DePelchin understands and seeks to address the unique barriers that minority communities face when trying to access mental health care.

DePelchin’s mental health services include school-based counseling at some campuses serving high-needs students, as well as in-person and virtual counseling for children, parents and other family members. Our counseling program is an important part of our effort to prevent the maltreatment of children and keep families safe.

This month is important not only because we serve a diversity of children and families in our mental health programs, but also because we know that minority communities face some unique challenges in getting the care they need. For example:

  • A lack of bilingual therapists is a major barrier to care. Even in Houston, which has a large Hispanic population, there are not enough therapists who speak Spanish. Plus, there are little-to-no services available for minority families who speak a language other than English or Spanish. Some use a translator, but this can be both cost-prohibitive and not conducive to building a trusting relationship with a therapist.


  • Families that lack financial resources have limited choices when it comes to finding a counselor or therapist and must often rely on no-cost services. As a result, the counselors available to them may or may not share similar cultural backgrounds. While counselors are trained in cultural humility and cultural sensitivity, clients may still find it more difficult to build a therapeutic relationship with someone from a different background.


  • Another challenge arises from stigmas related to mental health.  Some may be reluctant to access mental health services because their culture sees this as a weakness or believes that mental health issues should be handled either within the family or by the church. There is also a strong lack of trust in the system from minority families based on generations of bad experiences. Families may also worry that seeking no-cost counseling will jeopardize their immigration status.

Because meeting the mental health needs of children and families is such an important part of our work, DePelchin tries to address these and other barriers in order to make services available to people of all backgrounds.

“While many of the issues that non-white and minority clients face are similar to issues and challenges faced by all clients, there are definitely some additional concerns that these clients face that make finding and accessing mental health services more of a challenge,” said Dr. Charity Eames, DePelchin’s Director of Clinical Services. “DePelchin tries to mitigate these concerns by hiring a diverse group of counselors, by providing as many services as possible in Spanish or a client’s native language, and by talking with families to allay concerns regarding mental health stigmas or concerns about how accessing services may affect benefits or immigration status.”

During this month and throughout the year, we are grateful for all who strive to meet the mental health needs of diverse communities. We are also grateful for those who seek counseling and other services for children and other members of their families. Finally, we appreciate the supporters who make it possible for DePelchin to offer these and other critical services.

Please click here for more information about DePelchin’s counseling programs.

Help give DePelchin families the school supplies they need

Three kids with new backpacks

While the blistering heat might make us feel that summer will never end, a new school year is rapidly approaching. We invite all DePelchin supporters to help us make sure the year starts on the right foot for the children and families we serve.

DePelchin is collecting school supplies this summer to distribute to children we serve across our programs and in the four regions where DePelchin offers programs: Houston, Austin, Lubbock, and San Antonio. For years, our supporters and volunteers have helped make our Back-to-School drives a success. Last year, we distributed 900 new backpacks filled with paper, binders, pencils and other supplies needed to start the new school year successfully.

We will again distribute the backpacks in August, and now is a perfect time for individuals, businesses, or community groups to host a donation drive to collect school supplies and donations. Hosting a donation drive is easy and a great way to rally friends and coworkers around a cause that makes a tangible difference in children’s academic journey.

Our most needed items are mesh or clear backpacks, composition notebooks, spiral notebooks, and colored pencils. You can also purchase items off of our Amazon wishlist.

We will be collecting donations at our DePelchin Donation Station at 200 Sandman Street in Houston, where volunteers will help us sort donations and prepare them for distribution to our offices around the state. Donations should be dropped off by July 27, either between 8:30 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays, or by appointment. If you have any questions about how to host a donation drive, please contact Norma Noonan at or (281) 780-9873.

Each year, we see how much the families we serve through foster care, prevention services, and other programs appreciate the school supplies that our supporters provide. Please consider hosting a donation drive soon so the children we serve can be ready to learn as they start the school year.

Celebrating the reunification of families

A lady being hugged and kissed by two little boys

When a child is removed from their home and placed in foster care, it is a goal to reunify the child with the parents when and if it is safe to do so. During June, which is National Reunification Month, we recognize the importance of working to bring children and parents back together in a safe and loving home.

Of course, part of what makes reunification possible is the temporary care provided by foster families after children are removed from their homes. We celebrate the parents who provide children with a safe and loving home and help them heal from the trauma of removal. Here at DePelchin, we work closely with foster families to provide the support they need so that children receive the best possible care. We are always looking for quality foster families, and we encourage anyone who is considering becoming a foster parent to sign up for one of our virtual foster & adoption orientation sessions.

DePelchin also assists in the search and reunion of adopted individuals and their birth parents. These services are limited to those who were adopted or lived at DePelchin; or children who were formerly in foster care in Texas. Click here to learn more about these services.

We applaud all parents who are working to reunify with their children, as well as the foster families who provide loving homes until reunification becomes possible.

DePelchin Children’s Center Celebrates Pride Month

June, also known as Pride Month, is a time to celebrate diversity and provide support for members of the LGBTQ+ community. This is an important month for DePelchin as we express our gratitude for the LGBTQ+ families we work with and the individuals we serve in our programs.

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community, whether as individuals or as couples, have provided the safe and loving homes that all children need through both our foster care and adoption programs. Several same-sex couples have fostered and adopted multiple children through DePelchin.

Our families come in all shapes and sizes, and we are grateful for all who are willing to open their homes and their families to children who have experienced the trauma of removal from their birth parents.

“With DePelchin it is a family relationship,” said Joshua, whose family has fostered and adopted through DePelchin. “It isn’t a transaction — they are always there when we need them.”

DePelchin is grateful for our years-long partnerships with these families. We are also grateful for our supporters, all of whom make it possible for us to work with a diversity of children and families throughout our many programs.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about providing foster care or adoption through DePelchin, please visit our Prospective Parents page for much more information.

What To Know About Becoming A Foster Parent

Foster care awareness month

May is National Foster Care Month, which is a time to celebrate the families who provide safe and loving homes for children who have suffered from maltreatment. DePelchin is grateful for the opportunity to work with foster families across our service areas — Houston, Austin, Lubbock and San Antonio — and provide these families the services and support they need to help children heal from the trauma they have experienced.

Last year, DePelchin cared for 769 children in foster homes and we licensed 140 families to provide foster care. The generosity of our supporters allows us to connect with these families and ensure they are fully equipped to provide the safe and supportive home that children need.

Much of our work at DePelchin focuses on providing prevention services to help families stay together so that foster care does not become necessary — services such as counseling for parents and children and classes that give parents strategies and tools to manage their children’s behaviors. However, there is still a need for families to step forward to provide temporary care (foster care) for children who have been removed.

We understand that those who are considering becoming involved but do not have experience with the foster care system might have a lot of questions. We want to begin to answer those questions and help families gain a clearer understanding of what foster care involves.

At DePelchin, a foster parent must be at least 21 years old, be in good physical health, pass a criminal background check and be able to financially provide for a child. Beyond that, our foster families come in all shapes and sizes. They are single or married, same-sex or traditional, working or retired. They are renters or homeowners, have children of their own or no parenting experience. What they all share is a genuine desire to care for children and the ability to provide a safe and loving home.

The process of becoming a foster parent with DePelchin typically lasts between three and six months, beginning with one of our free informational orientations. Among other steps involved, prospective foster parents must submit an application and other documentation, complete a required trauma-informed training program and participate in a home study to ensure the home meets all safety standards.

One misconception is that becoming a foster family is expensive. However, at DePelchin, training and home study are free and we reimburse the cost of background checks.

Finally, it is important to know that you are not alone. We assign caseworkers to all of our foster families and those caseworkers visit the home at least once a month to ensure that the child is safe and to see what resources the family may need.

Sometimes a family provides foster care until the child can be reunited with his or her birth family, and sometimes the foster family becomes a forever family through the legal process of adoption. All foster parents are important, and all are critical to the safety net we try to provide for the most vulnerable children among us.

If becoming a foster family sounds like something worth exploring, please sign up for one of our informational sessions to learn more. And when Foster Care Month comes around next year, we might be celebrating you!

DePelchin luncheon honors Baker Botts

A man and two women holding a framed art piece

(HOUSTON) — Hundreds of supporters and friends celebrated the work of DePelchin Children’s Center on April 26 at DePelchin’s annual Families for Kids luncheon. The event raised more thabn $360,000 for the services and programs that DePelchin provides to ensure children are part of safe and loving homes.

The luncheon honored Baker Botts L.L.P. with the Kezia Payne DePelchin Award, which is named for the woman who founded DePelchin in Houston in 1892 when she discovered three babies on her doorstep and opened what she called a “faith home” for the children. When she died suddenly the next year, the faith home she established was at risk of being lost until some of Houston’s most notable women — including Alice Graham Baker, wife of Captain James A. Baker — vowed to carry on the mission. At Mrs. Baker’s request, Captain Baker organized and secured a Charter of Incorporation to formally continue the mission started by Ms. DePelchin, and what was then known as the DePelchin Faith Home Association would become Baker Botts’ longest-tenured pro bono client.

Baker Botts lawyers have served on the DePelchin Board throughout the organization’s history, and some of the most recognized members of the firm have provided pro bono services to DePelchin.

“In my twelve years at DePelchin, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Baker Botts partners and staff members, and their dedication to our children and families has been unmistakable,” said DePelchin CEO Jenifer Jarriel. “Everything they do for DePelchin is because they share our vision for a world in which all children are safe and healthy.”

The award was accepted by Baker Botts Partners Scott Janoe, who sits on the DePelchin Board of Directors, and Keri Brown, who sits on the Board of the Foundation for DePelchin Children’s Center.

Sally McDonald of Fox 26, who hosts the station’s “Fox Finding Families” segment that features children hoping to find adoptive homes, emceed the luncheon. The featured speaker was Dr. John “Push” Gaines, a former at-risk foster youth turned youth advocate, author, college football champion and motivational speaker.

Cecily and Rick Burleson served as Chairs of this year’s luncheon.

Money raised at the Families for Children event supports an array of DePelchin services, including maltreatment-prevention programs, family preservation, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. Last year, 769 children were cared for in foster homes, 140 families were licensed to provide foster care, and 128 children were adopted through DePelchin.

DePelchin’s Jesse Booher speaks with Houston Matters

Houston matters with Craig Cohen

DePelchin recently had the chance to explain our work and provide the public with more information about preventing child abuse on Houston Matters, a radio show and podcast produced by Houston Public Media.

DePelchin Senior Vice President and COO Jesse Booher joined host Craig Cohen on the April 24 edition of Houston Matters to discuss Child Abuse Prevention Month. They talked about ways that individuals, families and organizations can help to keep families safe. Booher discussed the range of prevention programs and other services that DePelchin provides in the Houston area.

“We’re a full continuum provider, so in our prevention programs, we meet with families where there is no designation of abuse and neglect, where families might need just a little bit of support, some skill building, counseling, and things to wrap around them,” Booher said. “We do also work with families who are involved with Child Protective Services, sort of the next step along that continuum, and then we have very robust foster care and adoption programs. So when the most serious types of abuse and neglect have occurred, we have families and staff who are willing and able to step in and help heal that trauma — not just the child’s trauma, but the family’s trauma as well.”

The show began with a focus on how, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sharp reduction in the number of suspected cases of child maltreatment that were reported. Those numbers bounced back in 2021 and 2022 as students returned to school and began to see medical providers more frequently. The groups who most commonly report abuse and neglect are teachers, law enforcement, and medical professionals.

Booher also emphasized the importance of anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected calling the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400. He noted that the people who take those calls at the hotlines are well-trained professionals who can often determine whether further investigation is warranted without a process that is too invasive for the family.

“If something doesn’t sit right in your gut — if you have a question or a concern — it’s OK to make that phone call,” Booher said.

You can listen to the full interview at this link. The interview with Booher begins at about the 8:10 mark.