New state laws changing requirements for potential foster families

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POSTED: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 4:44pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 8:25am

A high number deaths of children in foster care across Texas have prompted the Department of Family and Protective Services to re-examine their policies. Na'Tassia Finley has more on new laws aimed at protecting kids in the state's custody and how one local foster care agency is being proactive when it comes to placement.

Thousands and thousands of children across the Lone Star State are in need of a safe home after being removed from their parents' custody, Betsy Guthrie, "The department looks on a regular basis at how it, as a state agency, can improve the quality of the families that are caring for children that are in the state's custody."

Now a closer look into potential foster parents will go into effect this fall. The Department of Family and Protective Services made the decision to upgrade their background checks after eight foster children died last year from mistreatment.

The current assessment of potential foster parents requires criminal background checks and interviews.

The additional rules require the following:

  • An additional interview by a family member living outside the home.
  • Two additional interviews of community members, clergy, neighbors. for example.
  • Interviewing the adult children of foster parents.
  • A review of household finances.
  • A review of law enforcement calls to the foster home.
  • Additional background checks of persons frequenting the home: baby sitters, emergency caregivers among others.

For example, Betsy Guthrie, "What the state has determined, if there are agencies that are not in compliance with these background check requirements, then there will be penalties in place beginning September 1st."

Lutheran Social Services, out of Harlingen, which works through Foster in Texas says they are proactive in their background checks, while the state requires checks every two years, they check on their foster parents once a year.

They say they'll continue being proactive when it comes to making sure children placed here in the Valley are placed in safe and nurturing homes, Betsy Guthrie, "There is a need statewide and specifically in the Valley. We do recruiting on an ongoing basis and the best way for us to recruit is through churches and word of mouth from other foster families."

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