In 2017, there were 174,740 investigations conducted by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) due to allegations of abuse and/or neglect. Based on the findings of these investigations, 98,730 families participated in family preservations services which included individual therapy, family therapy, parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, random drug screens, anger management groups, domestic violence classes, and other therapeutic services. When possible, children remained in the home while services were being completed. An additional 19,864 children were placed with relatives, and 18,265 children were placed in unrelated foster care while their parents participated in the DFPS required services.
When parents successfully complete DFPS services, efforts are made to reunite them with their child/children. In 2017, 5,690 (32%) children were reunified with their biological parent(s), with the remaining 68% of children not returning to their parents’ care.The data indicate that 22% of children whose parents’ rights have been terminated and enter into foster care will not be adopted. In 2017, 1,200 children “aged out” of the foster care system. More than half of foster care children are imprisoned within two years of aging out of the system, and more than 80% of the prison population lived in foster care. If a child is adopted from foster care the likelihood of criminality decreases significantly. Currently, there are over 7,000 children in the Texas foster care system who are eligible for adoption and awaiting forever families.
When children are placed with relatives, parental rights are not automatically terminated. However, relatives can petition the courts for Primary Managing Conservatorship (PMC) after caring for a child for 6 months after which they are eligible to receive Permanency Care Assistance (PCA). The PCA includes a monthly stipend, medical insurance, and college tuition reimbursement. The children are also eligible to receive the subsidy (excluding college tuition reimbursement) until they are 18 years of age.
Although financial support is available, the process of completing the PMC/PCA or Adoption home licensure is cost prohibitive for many families. Subsequently, families who are unable to complete the process are not eligible for the financial assistance available for the children in their care. For children placed with relatives, only 4% who were in the care of their relatives received financial assistance in 2017.
In the case of termination of parental rights, the child in care becomes eligible for adoption. In 2017, a comparable number of adoptions were made by kinship caregivers (n=2,720) and unrelated caregivers (n=2,693). DFPS adoptions require minimal financial investment associated with adoption. Additionally, Special Needs Adoption offer additional financial assistance (monthly stipend, medical insurance, college tuition reimbursement, stipend for adoption legal fees, and post adoption services). To qualify as a Special Needs Adoption, per State requirements, a Caucasian child must be over the age of 5 and a minority child one the age of 2 prior to adoption placement. A sibling group meets the criteria for the subsidy program no matter the age of the children.
On February 9, 2018, Congress passed the Federal Family First Act. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by providing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well being of children already in foster care by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care. More specifically the act targets the following objectives:
To preserve and reunify struggling families, Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) offers two programs, Family Based Safety Services (FBSS) and Conservatorship. Both programs provide family service plans, which present recommendations and guidelines meant to allow children to remain or return home safely. Monarch Family Services seeks to increase the likelihood of family preservation and/or reunification by addressing the needs of the entire family. Our integrated “Healthy Families Therapeutic Model” was developed to address a variety of family issues and concerns. Our services to CPS families are offered in-office, home-based, or at a selected location in the community. We offer various services to CPS families including psychological evaluation, psychosocial assessments, substance abuse assessments, substance abuse individual sessions, substance abuse group sessions, individual therapy, family therapy, couple’s therapy, parenting classes, anger management classes, domestic violence groups, court-ordered supervised visitations, and intensive case management.
In some cases, reunification of children with their biological parents is not possible. Currently, over 7,000 children are eligible for adoption in Texas. Monarch Family Services seeks stable, loving, and nurturing forever homes for every child eligible for kinship, fictive kinship, unrelated adoption or foster to adopt. We also assist kinship or fictive kinship caregivers with the certification process of Primary Managing Conservatorship in order to receive the Permanency Care Assistance. It is the agency’s goal to support and facilitate a positive experience for the prospective adoptive parent(s). We offer a full range of services including:
Monarch Family Services also provides families with support after the adoption process. Our post adoption services assist families who have adopted children from Child Protective Services. This assistance can be accessed at any stage of the child/children’s life. We offer adoptees and their family the following services:
In collaboration with Project HIP (DFPS Contract – Helping Through Intervention and Prevention), Monarch Family Services has an intervention and prevention program aimed at improving outcomes for families whose parental rights have been previously terminated due to child abuse/neglect, or who have a newborn child. HIP services are also available to foster youth who are pregnant or who have recently given birth. The agency offers client case management services, weekly monitoring, parenting classes, $250.00 baby supply stipend, and access to other resources for up to 24 home-based individual sessions.
Monarch Family Services is a unique program with a comprehensive family service model. We believe that a strong political and organizational partnership would be invaluable for creating more impact and meeting the goals of the Federal Family First Act. Some suggested areas are education, financial assistance, and research and advocacy.
Increase financial assistance to Kinship Families, specifically with the process of licensing their home, as well as services after CPS case is closed (post adoption services)
Assist Monarch Family Services with identifying Federal or State funding that can assist with the continued research and development of the best practices model for a comprehensive family service model. It is our goal to create a program module to train other child welfare family service agencies to implement.
The agency’s existing program coincides with many of the objectives established in the Federal Family First Act. The comprehensive healthy family therapeutic model addresses a variety of family needs through prevention services, interventions for struggling families, and securing permanency for children who are in foster care. Over the years, we have worked with many families and have observed significant success with our prevention and intervention paradigm.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (2018) Data Book – CPS: Retrieved From https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/About_DFPS/Data_Book/Child_Protective_Services/
First Focus Campaign for Children (2018, March) Fact Sheet Family First Prevention Services Act: Retrieved From https://campaignforchildren.org/resources/fact-sheet/fact-sheet-family-first-prevention-services-act/
Children Defense Fund (2018) Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign: Retrieved From http://www.childrensdefense.org/campaigns/cradle-to-prison-pipeline/