Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Texas

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 749.2403; 749.605; 749.2447

Each applicant must:

  • Be at least age 21
  • Meet the requirements relating to background checks
  • Have a record of a tuberculosis (TB) screening showing that he or she is free of contagious TB
  • Be physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of providing care for children
  • Have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Have sufficient income to support their household prior to receiving the foster care reimbursement
  • Be able to be an appropriate role model for children in placement
  • Have the ability to provide nurturing care, appropriate supervision, reasonable discipline, and a homelike atmosphere for children

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 749.831; 863; 881; 883; 931; 941; 981

Prior to having contact with children in care, each caregiver must have orientation that includes:

  • An overview of the relevant and applicable rules and policies
  • The needs and characteristics of children served

Caregivers must complete 8 hours of preservice training before the person can be the only caregiver responsible for a child in care. The preservice training curriculum must include:

  • Topics appropriate to the needs of foster children
  • The different roles of caregivers
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Measures to prevent, identify, treat, and report suspected occurrences of child abuse or neglect, including sexual abuse
  • Emergency procedures
  • Preventing the spread of communicable diseases

Each caregiver providing care for children younger than age 2 must receive training on:

  • Preventing shaken baby syndrome and sudden infant death syndrome
  • Understanding early childhood brain development

For homes with two foster parents, the parents must receive a total of 20 hours of annual training, which must include:

  • Four hours for each foster parent of training specific to the emergency behavior interventions allowed by the agency
  • One hour for each parent on trauma-informed care
  • Two hours for each parent of training specific to normalcy
  • The appropriate distribution of the remaining 6 hours, with each parent receiving some hours

The training must be in areas appropriate to the needs of the children for whom the parent provides care, which may include:

  • Developmental stages of children
  • Constructive guidance and discipline of children
  • Supervision and safety practices, including making reasonable and prudent parenting decisions regarding a foster child's participation in childhood activities

The caregiver must be certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation for infants, children, and adults.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 749.3021 through 749.3041; 749.2909; 749.2913; 749.2931; 749.2917; 749.2961; 749.3103

A bedroom must have at least 40 square feet of space for each occupant, and no more than four occupants per bedroom are permitted. Only a room that provides adequate opportunities for rest and privacy may be used as a bedroom.

Children may not sleep in the same bed with an adult caregiver at any time. A child may share a bedroom with an adult caregiver if the child is younger than age 3 and it is in the best interests of the child. Foster children age 6 or older must not share a bedroom with a person of the opposite sex, except for a child sharing a bedroom with his or her minor parent.

Each foster child shall have his or her own bed and mattress. Each child must have accessible storage space for clothing and personal possessions.

A foster home must have one lavatory, one tub or shower, and one toilet for every eight household members. All lavatories, tubs, and showers must have hot and cold running water.

Children must have indoor areas for their use. There must be at least 40 square feet for each child. This does not include bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms, unfinished attics, or hallways.

The foster home must ensure that:

  • The home and furnishings, including outdoor areas, are safe for children, kept clean, and in good repair.
  • Flammable or poisonous substances are stored out of the reach of children.
  • The home is free of rodents and insects.
  • The home has working smoke detectors near sleeping rooms and on each level of a home with multiple levels.
  • A fire extinguisher is in the kitchen and on each level of the home.
  • Any animals are vaccinated as recommended by a veterinarian.
  • Any weapons and ammunition are kept in separate locked storage.
  • Vehicles transporting foster children are insured and provide appropriate seating.

Caregivers and other adults may only smoke tobacco products or e-cigarettes outside. No one may smoke tobacco products or e-cigarettes in a motor vehicle while transporting children in care.

Approval Process

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 749.2447; 749.2449; 749.2471

Persons applying to foster children and any person, excluding foster children, age 14 or older who will regularly or frequently be staying or present at the home must obtain a criminal history and central registry background check. The prospective foster parents also must provide information regarding each service violence call any law enforcement agency responded to at their residence during the previous 2 years.

Information about the physical and mental health status (including substance abuse history) of all persons living in the home in relation to the family's ability to provide foster care must be documented.

Interviews for a foster home screening must include at least the following:

  • One individual interview with each prospective foster parent, each child age 3 or older living in the home either full or part time, and each other person living full or part time with the family
  • One joint interview with the prospective foster parents
  • One family group interview with all family members living in the home
  • One interview, by telephone, in person, or by letter, with any minor child age 12 or older or adult child of the prospective foster parents not living in the home

Verification also includes obtaining the following:

  • A floor plan of the home showing dimensions and purposes of all rooms in the home and identifying indoor areas for children's use
  • A sketch or photo of the outside areas showing buildings, driveways, fences, storage areas, gardens, recreation areas, pools, ponds, or other bodies of water
  • An approved fire inspection
  • An approved health inspection

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 745.651 through 745.657

A felony or misdemeanor conviction under Texas law, the laws of another State, or Federal law may affect a person's ability to be present at a child care operation. Examples of crimes that will permanently bar a person from providing foster care include homicide, human trafficking, sexual assault, and felony endangering or abandoning a child.

A person who is required to register as a sex offender in Texas may not be present at an operation while children are in care.

A central registry check that reveals a sustained finding for abuse or neglect may affect a person's ability to be present at an operation. A person with a finding of sexual abuse of a child, labor trafficking, or sex trafficking is permanently barred from being a foster parent. A person with a finding of emotional abuse or neglect is eligible for a risk evaluation.

A prospective foster parent or any person that is required to undergo a background check because of the foster parent application is eligible for a risk evaluation for a sustained finding of physical abuse if:

  • It has been more than 5 years since the date of the physical abuse finding.
  • The prospective foster parent is related to or has a significant longstanding relationship with the foster child.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 264.751 through 264.754; 264.760

A 'designated caregiver' is a person who has a longstanding and significant relationship with a child for whom the Department of Family and Protective Services has been appointed managing conservator and who:

  • Is appointed to provide substitute care for the child but is not verified by a licensed child-placing agency to operate an agency foster home
  • Is subsequently appointed permanent managing conservator of the child after providing the care described above

A 'relative caregiver' is a relative who:

  • Provides substitute care for a child for whom the department has been appointed managing conservator but who is not verified by a licensed child-placing agency to operate an agency foster home
  • Is subsequently appointed permanent managing conservator of the child after providing the care above

The department shall develop a program to:

  • Promote continuity and stability for children by placing them with relative or other designated caregivers
  • Facilitate relative or other designated caregiver placements by providing assistance and services

The department shall expedite the completion of the background and criminal history check, the home study, and any other administrative procedure to ensure that the child is placed with a qualified relative or caregiver as soon as possible after the caregiver is identified.

A relative or other designated caregiver who becomes licensed by the department or verified by a licensed child-placing agency or the department to operate a foster home may receive foster care payments in lieu of the benefits provided by this subchapter, beginning with the first month in which the relative or other designated caregiver becomes licensed or is verified.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 749.3201; 749.3203; 749.3221

Applicants may be approved as a foster-adoptive home. All rules for verifying a foster family home and for approving an adoptive home must be followed. The foster home screening and preadoptive home screening may be combined into one screening report as long as requirements for each screening are covered.

A 'legal risk placement' exists when:

  • A child that is not available for adoption because his or her parent(s)' rights have not been terminated.
  • A child has been placed into a home that has been jointly verified as a foster home and approved as an adoptive home.
  • The placement is intended to change from foster care to adoption once the child is eligible for adoption.

A legal risk placement does not exist when a child is placed with foster parents who want to adopt the child but have not been approved as an adoptive home.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Fam. Code § 162.102

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

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