Permanency means leaving state care to live in a permanent home. This usually means children go home to their parents, go to live permanently with relatives, or get adopted. We call this positive permanency. Planning for positive permanency starts as soon as CPS removes a child from a home and ends when the child leaves CPS' legal custody.
The goal is to reunite children with their parents when possible, and CPS provides reunification services to families immediately before and after a child returns home. In FY 2015, 30 percent of children in state care returned home, and 92 percent of children in foster care found permanency of one kind or another.
In 2015, CPS created a Permanency Strategic plan. The goals of the plan are to:
- Safely reduce the average time to achieve positive permanency by 25% by 2020.
- Achieve positive permanency for children under six years old who have been in DFPS conservatorship for more than two years.
- Reduce the number of youth exiting care without a permanent home.
- Create a sense of urgency to achieve positive permanency.
When a child cannot return home safely, the court may give permanent custody to a relative or make the child available for adoption. The number of children adopted from foster care increased significantly in the last decade. In fact, Kinship adoptions in Texas have more than doubled since 2005 and now account for 49 percent of DFPS adoptions. DFPS approves adoptive homes and contracts with licensed, private child-placing agencies to increase the number of parents available to adopt children from foster care.
The Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) website (AdoptChildren.org) is an important tool for recruiting foster and adoptive parents and also promotes adoption with photo listings and profiles of children awaiting adoption. TARE also has a toll-free nationwide Adoption and Foster Care Inquiry Line.
CPS offers services to children and their families to help adopted children overcome the trauma of abuse or neglect and the loss of their birth families. These services include counseling, crisis intervention, parent training, and support groups.