BEXAR COUNTY – Six-thousand children were adopted across the state between Sept. 1, 2018, through Aug. 30, 2019, a number the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services hasn’t seen before, as the agency announced this week.
More than half of those adoptions were done by family members of the children who were put into the custody of Child Protective Services, according to DFPS.
While not always possible, CPS officials said keeping kids with relatives is a priority.
“We know that kids do way better when they’re able to stay, not only within their community, but also in a household where people look like them, talk like them and people that have grown up with them,” said Erica Banuelos, CPS Regional Director for Region 8, which spans more than two dozen counties in South Texas, including Bexar County.
Banuelos believes a move by lawmakers during the past legislative session that gave relatives more monetary resources when adopting a family member’s child contributed to more relatives stepping up.
More than 20,000 children left Texas foster care over the last year, as well, which means they were either reunited with their parents, placed with a relative caregiver or adopted. In some cases, CPS may place a child with a relative who has decision-making power for that child, but the child’s parents retain some parental rights.
The number of children exiting Texas foster care has been steadily increasing since FY 2016, when 18,524 kids left the system, according to DFPS.
The last year also saw a decline in the number of kids entering the foster care system. There were 18,615 kids who came into the state’s care in FY 2019 compared to 20,685 the year before.
However, that statistic has not seen a steady decline over the span of several years. The number of kids entering foster care increased from 2016 to 2018.
For Banuelos, these new stats serve as welcomed news, but still a sign of tough work left to do.
“This is a continuous issue and I always say I will be happy the day I am out of a job,” she said, “because it means kids are no longer getting hurt. And kids don’t have to be adopted by anybody else, because they’re in their home and in their community. But until then, we will have to continue to do the hard work.”
STATISTICS ON ADOPTIONS IN BEXAR COUNTY OVER LAST FISCAL YEAR, ACCORDING TO CPS:
- 900 children adopted
- Majority of adoptions done by family members
- 2,118 children left foster care
- 1,702 children entered foster care, meaning they were removed from their homes by CPS
- As of the end of October 2019, there were 3,042 kids in foster care
To learn more about how to foster or adopt a child, visit Family Tapestry.