The Permian Basin Needs More Foster Parents
The Permian Basin needs more foster parents to serve our children and youth in foster care. A lack of foster care capacity has been a consistent issue in the 17 counties comprising the Permian Basin. Almost 90% percent of children entering state custody are placed outside their home counties. More than half are placed outside the 30-county administrative region that includes the Permian Basin – often hundreds of miles from their families, schools, and other connections.
The figure above shows the home counties of children entering foster care from the Permian Basin. Almost 40 percent of Permian Basin foster children are from Ector County. One-quarter are from Midland County.
The West Texas area has been the worst in the state in every bi-annual foster care needs assessment conducted by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) over the last five years. The DFPS assessment forecasts that our area only has capacity to serve 3% of children with higher behavioral health needs who enter state custody, and 52% of all other children entering care.
It is a common misconception that children in foster care are infants or preschool-aged. However, 55 percent of children in foster care from West Texas are age 6 and older. Nineteen percent are over age 13. Older children and youth in foster care generally have higher behavioral health needs than younger children. The behavioral health needs of children and youth in foster care are expressed as service levels from Basic to Intense.
Many older children and youth in foster care have been in the foster care system for years and experienced multiple moves between foster placements, compounding the trauma they experienced before foster care with additional trauma experienced in foster care. Nevertheless, approximately one-third of children and youth at the Basic service level (i.e., without increased behavioral health needs) are between 6 and 17 years of age.