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Putting a spotlight on the mental health of children and youth

Mental health disorders among children and youth have been on the increase since before the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also a nationwide shortage of providers who can meet the mental health needs of children and youth. At DePelchin — during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, and throughout the year — we are working to serve more children by offering counseling services for children and youth in a variety of settings.

 

One in three Texas children experience a mental health disorder in a given year, according to the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. While the pandemic increased mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, the National Institutes of Health report that such conditions were on the increase among young people across the country in the years before the pandemic.

 

A lack of mental health providers exacerbates these challenges. According to the American Psychological Association, a major challenge is the lack of providers who can meet the mental health needs of children and youth.

 

DePelchin clinicians provide evidence-based counseling services in office settings and virtually. DePelchin clinicians also work in schools that do not have the staff available to provide mental health services. In 2023, DePelchin provided 18,700 counseling and therapeutic sessions.

 

“We provide counseling to the entire spectrum of problems, from families who have minor issues and conflict all the way to severe trauma,” said Dr. Charity Eames, DePelchin’s Director of Clinical Services. “We work with families who are intact, but also families experiencing a child placed outside the home.”

 

Over the past year, DePelchin has added 18 counselors to expand the number of children and families who can be served.

 

“Most of DePelchin’s programs are considered short-term counseling. We aren’t looking to provide services to families for years and years,” Dr. Eames said. “We are trying to help families figure out solutions to get over the crisis they are experiencing, how to learn some coping skills to deal with what’s going on, and in addition to that, how can they take these things that they have learned and generalize them when problems arise in the future.”

 

Mental Health Awareness Month is also an important time at DePelchin because the organization also provides foster care services. Chil­dren and youth who expe­ri­ence trau­ma, includ­ing abuse or neglect, are at increased risk for long-term emo­tion­al, behav­ioral and phys­i­cal health prob­lems, among oth­er chal­lenges.

 

DePelchin is grateful for the supporters who make it possible for us to offer counseling services. For more information about our counseling programs, please click here.

Learning more about foster care during National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, and we are celebrating all of the families who provide temporary care for children through DePelchin. Our families come in all shapes and sizes and play a critically important role in the lives of children who have suffered from abuse or neglect.

 

DePelchin is always looking for more families to provide foster care, but families who are interested in caring for children may not know where to begin. Below, Samantha Schwartz, DePelchin’s Director of Foster Care Services, answers some common questions about the process of bringing a child into the home through foster care.

 

We hope this information will be helpful to anyone who is considering becoming a foster parent or looking to learn more about the needs of these children.

 

 

 

How does a child come to be in a foster home?

 

A phone call is made to a state hotline when someone suspects abuse or neglect. Depending on the severity of the allegation, they will send that family to get services first, because they want to try to help that child at home. We don’t always see those children right off the bat. If they can’t be kept at home, they typically explore kinship care — family or a close friend of the family to care for the child — before going straight to foster care.

 

At that point, if someone to provide kinship care cannot be found, they are officially removed, and that is when we and other child-placing agencies will get a call saying, “Hey, we have a 4-year-old boy, here are some of his needs, do you happen to have any homes that can care for his needs?” Then we look at our pool of families who are licensed and that may fit that child’s needs, and then we’ll call the family and give them the backstory of this child. We will go from there on placement and case manage them through permanency, whatever that is. Permanency could be to place the child back with the biological parents, it could be kinship, or it could be adoption.

 

 

So as a foster family, you may get a call and you are soon caring for that child for an indefinite amount of time?

 

Yes. Typically, if we are doing an emergency placement, we hope our families give us an answer within 30 minutes of getting that initial call. But then the placement typically happens within two to three hours after that initial phone call. We have had some kids placed with a family for less than 24 hours, and then we’ve had some kids place for four or five years. Each case starts out with reunification with the birth family as the initial goal for the child.

 

What are some misconceptions about foster care?

 

It is the type of families that can be licensed to provide foster care. A lot of people that think that there is just one type of family, a two-parent household. And that’s just not the case. We see families in different shapes and sizes, there is not just one type of family that fits.

 

 

Is cost a deterrent to providing foster care?

 

It definitely should not be. We help cover a lot of those costs. There are some out-of-pocket costs for a fire inspection and some things related to house safety that we ask families tocover. But there really isn’t a ton that we expect from foster parents throughout the licensing process. You don’t have to be rich to be a foster parent. We ask that you have a budget that has some wiggle room for allowing some kids to be placed in your home and supporting them while waiting on the reimbursement that the state provides.

 

 

Are there enough foster families for the children who need them?

 

There have always been families available for the younger children. And that one is always an easier placement to make. But we’re seeing more kids come in a little bit older, seven and older, and their needs are a little different. There is always a need for families that can take care  of groups of siblings.

 

 

What kind of training do foster families get?

 

They attend an orientation at the beginning of our process to kind of learn the ins and outs of foster care. Then they start the application process. Once they are getting close to the end of the application process, they go through our training, and it is anywhere from trauma-informed care to cultural competency and that you understand what’s needed for the child placed in your home.

 

 

If you are not in a position to serve as a foster parent, but you want to be supportive of foster families, what are some ways that you can help these children and families?

 

Respite care is a great way to help. There are different qualifications for short-term versus long-term, but it’s basically somebody that can help provide care for the child. It may be providing care for a few hours while the foster parents run to the grocery store, or so they can go to a movie on a Saturday night. If you are interested in maybe becoming a foster family, respite care is a great way to dip your toe in the water.

 

 

For more information about how to become a foster family through DePelchin, please visit our Prospective Parents page.

 

DePelchin Children’s Center honors Fox 26 at Families for Kids Luncheon

DePelchin Children’s Center honored Fox 26 Houston while raising $347,000 at the organization’s annual Families for Kids luncheon on April 25. The luncheon is the largest annual fundraiser for DePelchin, which provides services for children and families in the Houston area and other parts of Texas.

 

DePelchin presented Fox 26 Houston with the Kezia DePelchinAward, named for the woman who founded DePelchin in Houston in 1892. Fox 26 Houston partners with DePelchin each month on a news segment, called Finding Families, that spotlights children who need homes. The segments have helped many children find foster and adoptive families while raising broader awareness of the needs of children in the child welfare system.

 

“It’s hard to quantify the impact of these segments, but one thing we know is that countless individuals have learned about DePelchin for the first time through this partnership with FOX 26 Houston,” said DePelchin Board President and CEO Jenifer Jarriel. “Because of these segments, featured children have found adoptive families, individuals have been inspired to start their journey to become foster parents, and volunteers and donors have joined our cause. And for that, we are so thankful.”

 

Sally McDonald, the host of the Finding Families segment on Fox 26 Houston, served as the luncheon emcee. Christine and William Turcotte chaired this year’s luncheon, which was held at River Oaks Country Club.

 

The luncheon speaker was Dave Pelzer, an author and motivational speaker whose story of resilience and triumph over adversity has inspired people worldwide. He wrote A Child Called ‘It,’ which details the abuse that Pelzer suffered as a child. The book spent six years on the New York Times bestseller list.

 

As part of the luncheon, DePelchin Board Chair Temple Webber described initiatives that the organization has launched since last year, including:

o Two new residential programs at DePelchin’s Today’s Harbor campus in La Porte: one that serves pregnant and parenting teens in foster care, and one for foster youth who have chosen to age out of foster care between the ages of 12 and 17.

o A partnership in which DePelchin clinicians work alongside Child Protective Services investigators to identify families who are at the highest risk of entering the child welfare system. The partnership aims to preserve more families by providing hope, healing, and access to life-changing services.

 

“In the time that’s passed since our last luncheon, the landscape of the child welfare system in Texas has continued to change,” Webber said. “I’m proud to report that DePelchin has done what we do best – evolved to expand our impact on the lives of children.”

 

 

Photo Attached: (Left to right) DePelchin Board President and CEO Jenifer Jarriel, Fox 26 Houston General Manager D’Artagnan Bebel, and DePelchin Senior Vice President and COO Jesse Booher after Fox 26 Houston won the Kezia DePelchin Award. 

Counseling services DePelchin provides for children, families  

 

DePelchin offers a variety of counseling programs to help families with a multitude of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and issues stemming from trauma. Counseling is available in a variety of settings in the Houston area in order to best meet families’ needs. DePelchin uses evidence-based practices and strategies that fit the specific challenges families face.

 

Below, Dr. Charity Eames, DePelchin’s Director of Clinical Services, answers some common questions about the services, whom they serve, and how families can access them. She also explains how families can request services with a phone call or with a brief visit to the DePelchin website.

 

What are the different types of counseling programs that DePelchin offers?

 

We provide counseling for children and their families. We see children from birth all the way up to 17, as well as parents. We  provide mental health counseling services to the parent because we recognize sometimes it’s their own issues — issues from childhood, or with their partner, or with their work — that affect their ability to parent, communicate with their children, be emotionally present, and have positive relationships with their children.

 

We provide services to families in Houston and surrounding areas. We do both office-based counseling and virtual or telehealth services. We have offices in several different locations and we also have community-based counseling programs in partnership with various entities. Some of our locations are clinics, and we do a great deal of school-based counseling. Our school-based program works in partnership with various school districts and Communities in Schools to place counselors in schools where children traditionally would not be able to access counseling services.  We also have a trauma-focused counseling program that works specifically with children who have experienced trauma, are uninsured, and are in need of more intense services. We also provide counseling services to the foster youth of DePelchin statewide.  DePelchin foster youth not only in Houston and surrounding areas, but also Austin, San Antonio and Lubbock, are able to receiving counseling as well.

 

We provide counseling to the entire spectrum of problems, from families who have minor issues and conflict all the way to severe trauma.  We work with families who are intact, but  also families experiencing a child placed outside the home. We also have a program in the San Antonio area where we work directly with CPS families, and in the Houston area we are doing a new project where we are working with families that have had active CPS involvement. Oftentimes, when a CPS case closes, despite the situation not being severe enough for CPS to remove the children or mandate services, CPS recognizes that families are still in need and could benefit from additional support.  In this way, they are trying to prevent future CPS involvement.

 

How do counseling services serve as a strategy for preventing abuse and keeping families safe?

Mental health issues and conflict within a family are both issues that can lead to child abuse. With mental health issues, whether it’s the child or the parent, these are things for which families don’t have natural coping mechanisms. They don’t necessarily know how to deal with depression, anxiety, and traditional mental health issues. Family conflict is a lot of times related to communication and interactions between family members. If families knew how to fix it on their own, they would. People go to counseling because they don’t necessarily have the skills that they need. Counseling can provide those.

 

Do counseling programs serve a different purpose than the parenting classes that DePelchin offers?

 

The parenting classes focus more on behavioral-type circumstances. It’s things like parents spending more quality time with children, giving their children praise, and setting limits and being consistent with their parenting. The counseling piece of it deals more with the emotional side and issues like anxiety and depression.  We are also able to deal with trauma. The counseling programs are really more the mental health side as opposed to the behavioral health side.

 

Who leads these counseling sessions?

 

The majority of the counselors we use at DePelchin are either licensed professional counselor interns, licensed marriage and family therapist interns, or licensed masters of social work who are working toward their licensed clinical social worker certification. They have completed their master’s degree, are provisionally licensed in the state of Texas, and they are under the supervision of fully licensed counselors. During the time of provisional licensure, they have to receive regular weekly clinical supervision. We are able to use counselors at this level because a lot of this is grant-funded; we are not billing insurance for these services and insurance is what requires the counselors to be fully licensed. That being said, some of our programs — such as the program that focuses specifically on trauma, or the program that works with children in foster care — do use fully licensed counselors. All mental health counselors at DePelchin are licensed in the State of Texas and all of our counselors receive additional training.

 

How much does it cost to access DePelchin’s counseling services?

 

Every counseling service that DePelchin provides is free. Everything is funded through a variety of grants and foundation funding.

 

Are there currently spots available for children and adults who need counseling?

 

Historically, most of our counseling programs have had a waitlist.  This is because we are one of the only programs in Harris, Fort Bend, or Waller counties that can provide completely free counseling. However, over the last year, DePelchin realized that having potential clients sitting on a waitlist wasn’t helpful to families, so we reached out to several foundations and organizations within Houston to increase our capacity. Over the last year, we have hired 18 new counselors. So, we have a lot of capacity right now. We still tend to have a waitlist for our Spanish-speaking counselors because there is a lot of need and it is harder to find truly bilingual counselors, but even with that, we are looking for ways to decrease our waitlist. But right now, we are absolutely accepting referrals and when at all possible, we try to offer families appointment that week, the next week, or as soon as they can come in.

 

Do you have to be referred by a doctor?

 

Referrals can come a variety of ways. Families can refer themselves by going to the DePelchin website and requesting services. At the bottom of our website, it says “Refer a Family” and families can click on that and refer themselves. We also do receive referrals from providers. A lot of times, families may not have heard about DePelchin or may be reluctant to seek out help on their own, but they may ask for help through their school counselor, school social worker, a caseworker through a social service organization, or a pediatrician. Providers in the community may also refer families to DePelchin through the website’s “Refer a Family” feature.  Families can also call DePelchin at (713) 730-2335 and say, “I would like counseling services.” We have some great intake staff who will talk to families and find out what the presenting problem is and what kind of issues they are facing.

 

How long do these services last?

 

Most of DePelchin’s programs are considered short-term counseling. We aren’t looking to provide services to families for years and years. We are trying to help families figure out solutions to get over the crisis they are experiencing, how to learn some coping skills to deal with what’s going on, and in addition to that, how can they take these things that they have learned and generalize them when problems arise in the future. We don’t want to make families feel dependent on counseling services and feel like every time something comes up in their lives, they have to come back to counseling. We do have families who will come back at different stages in their lives or when different problems arise, but most families only spend three to six months in counseling.

Be a Champion for Children During Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is an opportunity to recognize the importance of communities working together to strengthen families. Throughout the month, DePelchin will highlight our services and programs that work to keep children safe. We will also discuss ways that individuals can also be Champions for Children by helping to prevent abuse and neglect. In addition, we will display blue ribbons on our Houston campus to honor the children who were victims of abuse and neglect in Harris County last year.

 

In 2023, there were 58,120 child victims of abuse and neglect in Texas. At DePelchin, we work to provide safe and loving homes for these children and to also help children and families before abuse and neglect happen.

 

Our services to keep children safe and healthy include:

 

  • Parenting classes. These programs help equip parents with the strategies and approaches they need to maintain loving, caring homes for their children — including programs that are specifically focused on fathers and their unique roles in their children’s lives.

 

  • Counseling services to support children and parents. Our clinicians help DePelchin clients facing any number of mental health issues. Our counseling services are free for children and adults, and we offer them in a variety of settings to meet our clients’ needs.

 

  • The DePelchin Family Resource Centers in Houston and San Antonio. This is a one-stop shop for families seeking a variety of services. Families who visit the centers can, for example, sign up for parenting or counseling services or learn about other available forms of support from DePelchin and other organizations.

 

Of course, when a child needs a family to provide temporary care before they can be reunited with their parents, DePelchin also finds foster families for those children and works closely with the families to ensure they are able to meet that child’s needs. We also help children and families throughout the process of adoption when it is not possible to reunify with the birth parents.

 

We all have a role to play in helping to prevent abuse and neglect, from offering support and encouragement to families who may be struggling, to learning more about how to detect and report suspected abuse, to hosting a fundraising campaign to support DePelchin programs. This is also a time to show appreciation for those who are engaged in preventing abuse and neglect — whether they are staff, volunteers, or supporters.

 

Please see and share the content on our social media channels (such as Facebook and Instagram) throughout the month to learn more about ways that all of us can prevent the abuse and neglect of children. DePelchin is honored to be engaged in this critical work and we thank all who make it possible.

Common questions about DePelchin parenting programs

One of the major ways that DePelchin serves families is by offering a variety of parenting classes and programs. ParentingHelp, for example, allows parents to receive guidance in small groups or in one-on-one settings. DePelchin also offers programs specifically for fathers and father figures.

 

All of DePelchin’s parenting programs are free and available to parents looking for some new strategies and approaches to raising their children.

 

Below, DePelchin Director of Family Services Megan Green answers some common questions about our parenting programs, whom they serve, and how they can be helpful.

 

 

Can you briefly describe parenting programs DePelchin offers?

 

We have a general parenting program, which is parenting classes in the community, where we can go on site and provide a parenting group. We also have one-on-one parenting where we can come in-home and work with the parent individually, specifically on child behavior concerns or any other child development concerns.

 

We have a fatherhood program where dads or father figures can be a part of a group where the topics relate to men and fathers. And then we have a couples’ or shared parenting group, where they can work together on communication, differences in parenting styles, self-care, and breaking gender roles.  We address many critical topics that arise in the shared parenting relationship.

 

How do parents know if these types of programs could be useful to them?

 

Kids do not come with an instruction manual, so all parents can relate to the fact that parenting is difficult. We always consider the parent to be the expert, as you know your own child best. What we are here to do is to help you with some ideas for how to create a healthy family and sustain a positive relationship between you and your child. So if it’s a parent who is saying, ‘This is really tough, maybe this child in particular is a little different than the others,” that would be a good reason to call us. Maybe it’s, “I feel very alone, I’m a single parent and I don’t have support and I don’t feel like I have the mental capacity to parent right now.” That would be another good reason to join our programs. It may be a dad, thinking “I’m doing this alone or in a shared parenting role, and there are things about the way I was raised that are affecting me as a father and I don’t want that to transfer to my own children.” Our groups work through real-life concerns like that.

 

As co-parents, it could be “We aren’t together, but we care about our kids and we want to do this together in a positive way,” or “We’re married, and we’re struggling in our relationship because we don’t agree on parenting stuff.” That’s another good reason to join the shared parenting group.

 

Who leads these programs?

 

Our groups and individual parenting services are run by parent educators. Parent Educators have a bachelor’s degree and are knowledgeable about the issues and topics affecting children and their parents. We strive to hire staff who represent our community, so we want staff who understand the various populations that we serve. We have services in English and Spanish so parents who join can be in a group where they feel like they can communicate openly and have someone who can relate to them and understand them.

 

What do you tell parents who feel like participating in these programs is a sign of defeat?

 

That’s one of the reasons why we like to say that you are the expert as the parent. We are not here to tell you how to parent. We’re here to listen and give you evidenced-based strategies that are known to support good child behavior and create a more positive relationship between parent and child. Our society is becoming more adaptable to getting help and support and being open to not doing things alone, and that’s how we should view this. Just like you would go to your doctor and get a physical to check in on your physical health, you can go to a parent educator and to get support for your parenting.

 

What if people do not have the time or capability to come to the DePelchin office for in-person classes?

 

All of our classes and groups are offered very flexibly. We provide them in the community, where the classes are close by that person, or we host them virtually, where a person can log on from home or wherever they are. We also offer flexible times that work around busy parents and schedules.

 

What types of changes should parents expect to see in their own parenting style?

 

A calmer, more structured routine at home. Parents often report that they actually enjoy spending time with their child again.  We teach a lot about how it’s not the quantity of time spent, it’s the quality. It’s about what you’re doing with your child each day. We often see a big reduction in parental stress and anxiety, and that improves because they have gained more confidence in managing their family.

 

Parents will often come to us in a time of need and say, “I need help with my child.” We tell them, “We are actually going to be working through you to change the child.” By the parent making some minor changes and modifications, the child then changes their behavior. That’s a big win for the parent because they gain that confidence and feel proud of themselves.

 

Why is there a need for programs that are specifically for fathers?

 

We have found throughout our history that mothers tend to engage more in parenting programs, and we also feel that a lot of the curriculum throughout time has been more tailored to moms or traditional roles. Moms and dads may view and respond to parenting in very different ways, so we have to approach our parenting groups differently. We hire staff and utilize curriculum that relate to the needs of fathers and father figures.

 

But if you’re a dad, you can still go to something like ParentingHelp?

 

Yes, definitely. We strongly encourage that fathers participate in all of our parenting programs, especially if they are co-parenting. When both parents participate, the impact is even higher.

 

Who is eligible for these programs and how much do they cost?

 

All programs are free. These are open to anyone in Harris and surrounding counties. If you’re pregnant or parenting a child between zero and 18, we have a program that can meet your needs.

 

How do people sign up, or where should they turn if they have questions?

 

Go to DePelchin.org, clicking on ”What We Do” and you will find Parenting Services. We also have a ParentingHelp phone line that you can call directly at (713) 802-7777.

DePelchin Children’s Center Board of Directors adds five members

Five community and business leaders from the Houston area have joined the Board of Directors for DePelchin Children’s Center, which works to see that all children are part of safe and loving families.

 

Founded in Houston in 1892, DePelchin delivers services in Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Lubbock, as well as areas surrounding those cities. DePelchin’s services include foster care and adoption, residential care, counseling, family preservation programs and parenting classes.

 

“We are grateful for the diversity of experiences and perspectives that the new members of our Board of Directors will provide,” DePelchin CEO Jenifer Jarriel said. “Throughout our long history, respected community members have provided visionary Board leadership that has empowered DePelchin to meet the needs of children and families. We are grateful for the contributions that our Board will make in the year ahead.”

 

The members who are new to the DePelchin Board of Directors are:

  • Kenneth J. Bohan, The Liberty Group
  • John C. Elkins, Ytterberg Deery Knull LLP

 

Three members are returning to Board service:

  • Sue Nan Cutsinger, Sue Nan and Rod Cutsinger Foundation
  • William H. Knull, III, William H. Knull, III PLLC
  • William E. Turcotte, Noble Corporation

 

Cutsinger, Knull and Turcotte have previously served on the DePelchin Board, while Bohan and Elkins are joining the Board for the first time.

In addition, W. Temple Webber III has taken on the role of Board Chair, with Kay Forbes moving to Past Chair and Dr. Susan R. Barnes becoming Chair-Elect. Santos Hinojosa is the new Board Secretary.

Texas Bowl gives DePelchin kids unique experience

Hundreds of children served by DePelchin programs interacted with student athletes and got to watch two of the most storied programs in college football compete during December’s TaxACT Texas Bowl.

 

DePelchin has been the Texas Bowl’s official charitable beneficiary since 2006, and during that time the game has donated more than $2 million in funding to DePelchin, as well as millions of dollars in promotional support and publicity.

 

Each year, children who are involved with DePelchin through foster care, adoption, and other programs get to visit with the teams in the days leading up to the game. This year, children and families got to meet players from the Texas A&M Aggies and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

 

The Texas Bowl also donated tickets for DePelchin families to attend for free when the Aggies and Cowboys played on December 27. Oklahoma State won the game 31-23.

 

The partnership between DePelchin and the Texas Bowl goes well beyond the annual game. The Bowl also raises funds for DePelchin through its annual Gridiron Legends golf tournament. Each year, the golf tournament introduces new supporters to the services DePelchin provides — as well as the ongoing need for those services.

 

DePelchin is grateful for the partnership of the TaxACT Texas Bowl and its participating football teams, as well as all who help make the bowl experience memorable for children and families in our programs.

Donors, volunteers make Holiday Project a success

An outpouring of support from DePelchin donors and volunteers allowed us to fulfill holiday wishes for more than 1,400 children in our programs this year.

 

DePelchin supporters made the gifts possible through our annual Holiday Project, which collects gifts for children engaged with DePelchin programs in Houston, Austin, Lubbock and San Antonio. The tradition brightens the holidays for children while also making the season more manageable for the families who care for them.

 

Supporters of the Holiday Project chose children’s wish lists from our website and went shopping for their requested gifts. Some businesses and other employers held donation drives to collect gifts. Others made financial contributions to help our staff make sure that all wishes were fulfilled.

 

We are especially grateful for the groups and individuals who helped sort and prepare donations for pickup. Finally, we appreciate the DePelchin case managers who work closely with families throughout the year and helped to identify the needs and wishes of each child and ensured the gifts were delivered to families in time to celebrate the holidays.

 

DePelchin families have celebrated the holidays in other ways as well! In early December, Santa and some of his elves arrived at Hobby Airport in Houston on a Southwest airplane with goodies and gifts for DePelchin children. The kids took a tour of Santa’s plane, posed for photos with Santa, and received a bag full of gifts. Sarah Pepper of Mix 96.5, LyondellBassell Industries, Southwest Airlines and the Houston Airport System all helped make the day magical and memorable.

 

Thanks to so many volunteers and supporters, DePelchin children and youth are making some lasting and cherished memories during this holiday season. We are profoundly grateful for all who stepped up — during the holidays and throughout the year ­— to deliver joy to these kids and their families.

The road to adoption is filled with support, guidance

 

By Jesse Booher

 

Children and families around the world are celebrating November as National Adoption Month. Those of us who work with children each day are grateful for these families, and during this special month, we recognize the need to continue finding the loving families that all children deserve.

 

The need is certainly there. In Texas over the past year, nearly 4200 children left foster care to adoptive homes. As recently as September of 2023, over 7500 children in foster care had adoption as their primary goal for leaving foster care. The need is especially high for older children and for those who are part of sibling groups. Meanwhile, some families have perhaps considered adoption but don’t know where to start.

 

Before many families adopt in Texas, they start as foster families, meaning they provide temporary care for children whom the state has removed from their birth families due to abuse or neglect. Nonprofit organizations train and prepare prospective foster families and then work with the state to place children in the foster families that will best meet the needs of those children. The process of becoming a foster family can take three to six months, starting with an orientation session. From there, families fill out an application and participate in trauma-informed training sessions and a home study.

 

Foster parents can be single or coupled, including same-sex couples, and they may or may not already have children. The 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.

 

Those who decide to provide foster care are not alone. When working with child-placing organizations such as DePelchin, they receive trainings, counseling, in-home visits and other forms of support. The state also provides financial assistance.

 

Foster parents know that the care they provide may be temporary, because the goal is always to reunite children with their birth families or close family friends when possible. However, in instances in which parental rights are terminated, a foster family can choose to pursue adoption. The same organizations that place a child in a foster family often provides guidance and assistance throughout the process of adoption.

 

Throughout November and beyond, many families celebrate their adoption day. For all involved, it will be among the happiest days of their lives. Meanwhile, here in the Houston area and throughout Texas, other children continue to need safe and loving homes.

 

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the foster-to-adopt process, we invite you to reach out to us at DePelchin Children’s Center or a similar nonprofit organization that places children into care. We can tell you more about the guidance and support available to families who welcome a child into their homes and lives.

 

 

Jesse Booher is Senior Vice President and COO of DePelchin Children’s Center. To learn more about foster care and adoption through DePelchin, please email gettingstarted@depelchin.org.