Life After Foster Care: Forty Collin County Children Need Adoptive Parents, Others Reunite with Families or Age out of Care

While we often talk about the numbers of children who are entering foster care, we haven’t addressed the children who are exiting foster care. Foster care is meant to be a short-term arrangement, necessary while the parties involved work towards the child’s permanency goal. Permanency goals vary according to each child’s best interests, but adoption is currently the goal for 40 Collin County children who are waiting to become part of a loving family.

How Children Leave Foster Care

While many local children are waiting to leave foster care via adoption, there are actually several ways that children exit the system. The four primary ways that children leave foster care are: reunification, custody given to relatives, adoption, and emancipation. Other reasons for discharge, such as runaways, death, and transfer to another agency, are rare, and we haven’t seen them in Collin County this year.

Reunification

Often, a child enters foster care with the permanency goal of ultimately being returned to the care of a parent. In order to be reunited with their children, parents must typically work to complete a service plan, which may include classes, securing shelter and employment, or meeting other criteria. Whenever appropriate, parents pursuing reunification will generally be permitted visitation with their children while the children remain in foster care. In Texas, more than half of reunifications occur within one year of a child entering foster care, and over 90% of reunifications occur within two years. So far in 2018, 31% of Collin County children in foster care have been reunified with a caregiver.

Relative Custody

If reunification is not an option, or if a parent fails to take the steps necessary to pursue reunification, other options are considered. The state typically favors relative caregivers over unrelated adoption because placement with relatives allows children to remain connected to their family roots and culture. So far this year, thirty-eight percent of Collin County foster children left foster care by entering the custody of relatives.

Adoption

Once relatives have been ruled out, the state considers the possibility of unrelated adoption. Although a judge may waive the waiting period, a child in foster care must typically reside with his or her prospective adoptive family for six months prior to the finalization of the adoption. If a child’s foster family is able to adopt, the process can be fairly quick, but if the child must wait for a new prospective adoptive home to be identified, the adoption process can be a lengthier endeavor as a search for a suitable home is conducted and the waiting period is subsequently met.

Currently about 40 Collin County children are waiting to be adopted. According to recent data, there are around 12,000 children awaiting adoption across the state of Texas. Typically, more than 5,000 Texas children are adopted out of foster care each year.

Reunification

Often, a child enters foster care with the permanency goal of ultimately being returned to the care of a parent. In order to be reunited with their children, parents must typically work to complete a service plan, which may include classes, securing shelter and employment, or meeting other criteria. Whenever appropriate, parents pursuing reunification will generally be permitted visitation with their children while the children remain in foster care. In Texas, more than half of reunifications occur within one year of a child entering foster care, and over 90% of reunifications occur within two years. So far in 2018, 31% of Collin County children in foster care have been reunified with a caregiver.

Relative Custody

If reunification is not an option, or if a parent fails to take the steps necessary to pursue reunification, other options are considered. The state typically favors relative caregivers over unrelated adoption because placement with relatives allows children to remain connected to their family roots and culture. So far this year, thirty-eight percent of Collin County foster children left foster care by entering the custody of relatives.

Adoption

Once relatives have been ruled out, the state considers the possibility of unrelated adoption. Although a judge may waive the waiting period, a child in foster care must typically reside with his or her prospective adoptive family for six months prior to the finalization of the adoption. If a child’s foster family is able to adopt, the process can be fairly quick, but if the child must wait for a new prospective adoptive home to be identified, the adoption process can be a lengthier endeavor as a search for a suitable home is conducted and the waiting period is subsequently met.

Currently about 40 Collin County children are waiting to be adopted. According to recent data, there are around 12,000 children awaiting adoption across the state of Texas. Typically, more than 5,000 Texas children are adopted out of foster care each year.

So far this year, there have been 20 Collin County children adopted into new families. Collin County generally sees a jump in adoptions during the month of November, since many families wait to finalize their adoptions during Collin County’s National Adoption Day celebration. There were 13 Collin County adoptions finalized last November, and 21 Collin County adoptions finalized in November of 2016.

Emancipation

Foster care typically ends at age 18, but youth may opt to continue foster care through age 21 if they meet certain requirements, such as remaining in school or working, or if they have a medical condition that prevents them from pursuing education or employment. If foster youth exit care in adulthood without a permanent legal family, they are said to have “aged out” of care. Two Collin County youths aged out of foster care so far in 2018, constituting 3% of the children exiting Collin County foster care through April.

Collin County has had several successful foster youths graduate high school and go on to attend college. Foster Friends supports them by providing laptops and assisting with college application fees. Generally, though, teenagers aging out of foster care do not fare as well as teenagers in the general population. In addition to struggles with early pregnancy, homelessness, incarceration, and drugs, transition-age youth are less likely to attend school, graduate high school, or hold a job than their peers.

Find out About Collin County Adoptable Children

Although many Collin County foster children will be reunified with caregivers or other family members, many others do need adoptive homes. To learn more about the forty adoptable children in Collin County, check out these resources:

https://embracetexas.org/the-second-story/#1482169987549-73c6b790-d02e

https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Application/TARE/Search.aspx/NonMatchingSearchResults

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