Amy Kimbrell, Buckner supervisor of foster care and adoption for Conroe and North Houston, shared the three biggest needs in foster care right now with the Houston Chronicle: care of older children and teens, sibling groups and therapeutic care.
Over the past several years, foster care services in Southeast Texas have focused on finding homes for children who are up to 5 years old. However, late last year, there was a shift in our needs. We are receiving fewer requests from Child Protective Services to place younger children and a greater need to find homes for sibling groups, older children and teens, and children with therapeutic or special needs.
I’m not going to sugarcoat the demands of being a foster parent: It is challenging. Every child who enters foster care — there are currently around 34,000 in Texas — has experienced some form of trauma. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the leading reasons children are removed from their homes are neglect (62 percent), parental drug abuse (36 percent), caretaker inability to cope (14 percent), physical abuse (12 percent) and inadequate housing (10 percent).
We especially need courageous families that are willing to keep siblings together, whether through foster care or adoption. Try to imagine a child first experiencing removal from biological parents, only then to lose their siblings through being placed separately. There are more than 7,000 sibling groups currently in the Texas foster care system, and according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, 34.9 percent of them are not placed together.