How to Start a Foster Home in Texas

How to Start a Foster Home in Texas

Do you want to make a difference in the life of a child? If you live in Texas, your assistance is desperately needed—nearly 30,000 children were in the foster care system in January 2019 alone. Starting a foster home is a significant financial and time commitment, but don’t be concerned. We’re here to help you through the entire foster parent application process. We also have you covered if you want to open a children’s group home in the Lone Star state.

Method 1 Foster Parent Requirements

1. Apply to be a foster parent and see what a difference you can make in the life of a child. Foster care is a rewarding experience, but you are essentially agreeing to become a child’s guardian. While there are stipends for foster parents, this money is primarily used to reimburse childcare costs and is not intended to be a source of additional income.

Foster parents in Texas are paid between $812 and $2,773 per month for each child they care for. You will receive a larger pay package if you care for multiple children at the same time, but Texas law limits foster care households to 6 total children, including children who are already living in your home.

Foster homes provide displaced children with a close-knit, family-like environment, whereas group homes are designed to care for small groups of children under one roof. Remember that the Federal Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 prefers traditional foster family placements over group homes.

2. To meet Texas’s foster parent requirements, you must be 21 or older and financially secure. “Financially comfortable” does not imply being flush with cash, but your household finances must be stable enough to support a new family member.

Foster parents can be single, married, or divorced. Keep in mind that if you are currently married or divorced, foster agencies will require legal proof.

3. Choose a foster care agency with which to collaborate. Look online to see what kinds of foster care agencies are available in your area. Call and visit several agencies before deciding which one to work with. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them if you become a foster parent, so make sure it’s a good fit!

A list of Texas foster care agencies can be found here: https://www.childwelfare.gov/nfcad/.

Foster care agencies can be public or private, but both are equally qualified to assist you in your role as a foster parent. The main distinction is that public agencies are managed at the county level, whereas private foster care agencies are managed—you guessed it!—privately. There isn’t much of a difference between the two, though some private organisations may interpret their mission statement and values differently.

4. Submit an application to a foster care agency and undergo a background check. In Texas, foster care applications frequently include an FBI-level background check for you and anyone else living with you. Once your application and background check have been approved, you can proceed to the next stage of the application process.

Your application allows your foster care agency to learn more about your background and general lifestyle.

5. Conduct a home inspection and home study with your agency. The home study typically takes 3 to 6 months and is the most time-consuming aspect of the application and licencing process. During this study, a caseworker will conduct an in-depth examination of you and your household, including your previous experience with children, regular routines, educational background, and other factors. The caseworker submits a report based on their findings at the end of the study.

A home study can be intimidating, but it is done in the best interests of both you and your future foster children. Following the study, the caseworker will have a better idea of which children your household is most compatible with.

6. Provide references for the agency to contact. Contact some of your relatives, friends, and coworkers to see if they’d be willing to serve as character references for you. Inform them that if they agree to your request, a caseworker will contact them and ask them some questions about you.

Your references cannot only be family members; in Texas, you must also provide non-family references to your caseworker.

The caseworker will ask your references open-ended questions about your character, such as your best and worst traits.

7. Completing at least 35 hours of foster parent training is required. PRIDE is a state-mandated training programme run by Texas’ Child Protective Services (CPS) (Parent Resource Information Development Education). During PRIDE training classes, you will learn how to properly discipline children, how to work with abused and neglected children, and much more.

Some foster care agencies may require additional training; check with your caseworker to find out what the policy is.

Foster care education is not a one-time event! Every year, the state of Texas requires all foster parents to complete 20-30 hours of additional training.

8. Take First Aid and CPR classes. The state of Texas requires all foster parents to be prepared for in-home emergencies, such as first aid and CPR. Find certification classes in your area by visiting the American Red Cross website.

Register for an official certification course here: https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class

9. After receiving your licence, you can begin foster parenting. Wait for your caseworker to submit a home study report to a licencing agency, which will print and issue your licence. You won’t be able to care for any foster children until you have a physical copy of this licence.

Method 2 Children’s Group Home Requirements

1. Draft a business plan for your future group home. A business plan transforms your big idea into an actionable and approachable project. Use your business plan to outline all of the fine print that your group home will need to run properly, including the niche your children’s group home will serve. Here’s a sample outline that you can follow:

Executive summary

Company description

Market analysis

Organization and management

Services offered

Marketing and sales

Funding request

Financial projections

2. Purchase or rent a structure large enough to house up to 12 children. Examine the local housing market to see if any large homes, facilities, or other large buildings are available. Keep an eye out for properties near family neighborhoods—Texas towns and cities are fairly spread out, so a residential location could make your group home more accessible.

Meet with your county’s child welfare agency to make sure that your group home meets all state-specific requirements.

Double-check with the local zoning officials in your area to make sure that your chosen property can be zoned as a business.

Make sure that your facility lines up with the fire building codes, too.

3. Pick up the permits that your county requires. Fill out a building permit application at your local government building. Then, go to the nearest courthouse to find out what permits you’ll need for a children’s group home.

4. Participate in a 24-Hour Residential Pre-Application class. People who run group homes are also known as “24-hour residential child care providers” in Texas. To become a “provider,” you must first register for and attend a free pre-application class, which will walk you through the application process and the workload required to run and maintain a group home.

During this class, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the application process, along with all that’s involved in successfully running a group home.

Pre-application classes are organized by county and are between 2.5 to 3 hours long. You can register here: http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care/Search_Texas_Child_Care/CCLNET/Source/eApplication/ResidentialCareRegistration.aspx.

5. Apply for grants through Texas’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Financing your own group home is a big undertaking, but the state government might be able to help. Check out the HHS grant webpage to see what kinds of grant opportunities are available: https://apps.hhs.texas.gov/pcs/rfa.cfm

You can also apply for grants at the federal level through the National Institute of Health: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/how-to-apply-application-guide.html.

6. Hire qualified personnel for your facility. Employee requirements are ultimately determined by the role that you are attempting to fill. A director must have extensive previous leadership experience at a different childcare centre, and all standard employees must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Check out this PDF manual for more information on specific standards and requirements: https://www.hhs.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/doing-business-with-hhs/provider-portal/protective-services/ccl/min-standards/chapter-746-centers.pdf

7. Fill out the entire license application and other required forms. Form 2960, also known as the “Application for a License to Operate a Residential Child Care Facility,” is the backbone of the application process. This 11-part application includes info about your operation, info about you, the estimated child population, the type of operation you’ll be running, permit history, and more.  You can find the form here: https://www.hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/forms/2000-2999/form-2960-application-a-license-operate-a-residential-child-care-facility. You’ll also need to fill out:

Form 2819 ( Licensing Governing Body/Administrator or Executive Director Designation): https://www.hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/forms/2000-2999/form-2819-residential-child-care-licensing-governing-bodyadministrator-or-executive-director

Form 2760 (Controlling Person – Child Care Licensing): https://www.hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/forms/2000-2999/form-2760-controlling-person-child-care-regulation

Form 2985 (Affidavit for Applicants for Employment with a Licensed Operation or Registered Child-Care Home): https://www.hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/forms/2000-2999/form-2985-affidavit-applicants-employment-a-licensed-operation-or-registered-child-care-home

This form legally confirms that your potential employees aren’t criminals. Each individual employee will have to fill one out.

Form 2971 (Child Care Licensing Request for Background Check): https://www.hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/forms/2000-2999/form-2971-child-care-licensing-request-background-check

This form requests background checks for all of the potential employees at your group home. It costs $2 to process each employee. Your employees will need to be 100% cleared before they can work at your facility.

8. Submit your application and forms and wait to hear back from the nearest Child Care Licensing (CCL) office. Drop off all the completed forms at your local CCL office—these are the people who will be going through your applications and forms to make sure everything looks good. 

Find your nearest CCL office here: https://www.hhs.texas.gov/services/safety/child-care/contact-child-care-licensing

9. To obtain your licence, you must pass a building inspection. After reviewing your application and forms, CCL employees will visit your facility to ensure that everything is in order. After your building has been given the all-clear, these employees will issue you your licence.

If you have any questions about this inspection, please contact your local CCL office.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services’ website does not list a specific licencing fee. Check with your local CCL office or the materials you received at your Pre-Application class to get an idea of how much this will cost.

10. Purchase building and liability insurance for your group home. Before you open your group home for business, figure out how much insurance coverage you’ll need. Then, visit a Texas-based liability insurance company to purchase a policy for your facility.

11. Register your group home online with your operation number after you get approved. Your local CCL office will send you an official operation number for your group home after your facility and application are approved. Log onto the Child Care Regulation (CCR) portal to officially register your group home.

You can get to the portal here: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care/Search_Texas_Child_Care/CCLNET/Source/Provider/ppCCLRegister.aspx

Your CCR account makes it easy to send in background checks, pay fees, confirm insurance, and more.

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