The Houston area is sprawling and diverse, and the needs of children and families vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Our team here at The Riverside Project, along with our collaborating organizations, are committed to working together to transform the foster care system in Houston by building a stronger community together.
The child welfare system can be complex and can often feel confusing. If you are considering getting involved, it’s valuable to understand more about what is currently happening relating to foster care in our community.
Here are 5 things you should know about foster care in Houston:
1. Each year, more than 200 Houston teenagers age out of the foster care system.
Approximately 200 Houston teenagers age out of the foster care system each year. Without the help of a strong community and charitable organizations, many of these youth are susceptible to homelessness, incarceration, and trafficking. (source)
When teenagers age out of the foster care system, they often lose access to nearly every form of support. Less than 3% of children that age out of foster care earn a college degree and 25% of youth are dealing with some form of unaddressed PTSD.
Our passion for community partnership is in large part due to these statistics.
Children aging out of care should not be left on their own. We want youth to be able to access not only programs that provide support, but also healthy, stable relationships in their communities who can help them transition into adulthood successfully.
2. In the state of Texas, every school district has a foster care liaison.
Did you know that every Texas school district has at least one foster care liaison? This position is designated to assist children in foster care and their caregivers. Their role is to facilitate enrollment or transfer to a school, advocate for the needs of the students in foster care, help coordinate support, practices, and strategies for serving the students, and more. (source)
We are actually working with a number of foster care liaisons right here in our community to provide trauma-informed training for educators!
You can locate your school district and charter school’s foster care liaison through AskTED, a real-time public database. It can be a little confusing at first, but they have a walkthrough for locating the contact information for your district’s foster care liaison right here.
This is a great resource that is especially helpful for children whose ability to learn has been disrupted as a result of the trauma they have experienced.
3. This Fall, Houston is transitioning to a Community-Based Care model.
Texas has been transitioning our foster care system over to a Community-Based Care (CBC) model, and it will be coming to Houston this Fall! Half of our state has actually already made the transition.
This new model is designed to give children more stability by keeping them closer to home and connected to their schools, friends, and families as much as possible.
The success of this model hinges on our community’s ability to work together, and we’ve already seen what Houston can do in partnership with one another. We’re eager to get to work!
Learn more about Community-Based Care here.
4. Houston has several healthcare institutions providing care specifically tailored to children in foster care.
Often when a child enters foster care there are little to no details on the medical history of the child. And sometimes the information provided isn’t completely accurate.
Houston is home to several healthcare institutions providing medical care that is specifically tailored to children in foster care. Each of these clinics also provide additional services that may include dental, social work, behavioral health services, case management, and others. We recommend children in foster care receive at least their initial medical visit at one of these facilities.
5. The number of children in the Houston area removed from their homes due to abuse/neglect significantly decreased over the last year.
The number of children removed from their homes in the Houston area (Harris and surrounding counties) due to abuse/neglect decreased from 1767 to 997 over the last year, largely due to a legislative change (House Bill 567) in September 2021 that heightened the threshold of proof for neglect.
There is some concern about whether this legislative change has helped prevent unnecessary removals or left vulnerable children in unsafe situations. More than likely, it’s both.
When safe to do so, we want children to stay with their families, and we (along with our many partners) are committed to ensuring that children and families have access to the resources and relationships they need to thrive.
Every community across the nation has its own unique challenges when it comes to supporting those involved with the child welfare system. When we understand what is affecting the foster care community in our area, we can work together to make Houston a place where families heal and children thrive.
Want more info? We have some thorough guides for prospective foster families, current foster families, kinship care, and community support on our website. You can find them here.
Where is your place along the river? Whether it’s pursuing education through our resources, finding a place to serve, or giving to make this work possible, it’s when we work together that we can make the biggest impact here in Houston.