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NEWS | Aug. 23, 2016

JBSA-Lackland M&FRC hosts adoption, foster care seminar

JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

The Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Military & Family Readiness Center hosted an adoption and foster care seminar for military families Aug. 11 at the Freedom Chapel.

Representatives from Child Protective Services, Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, TRICARE and the M&FRC informed attendees on the process of adopting or fostering children, Texas laws and fees, eligibility requirements, M&FRC, DEERS and TRICARE benefits and resources.

Tech. Sgt. Scott Flowers, 33rd Network Warfare Squadron unit security manager, attended the seminar with his family to receive information on the foster care process and found it to be very informative, he said.

“We discovered what the needs are for foster children and the process to become a licensed, foster parent,” he said. “We kind of knew what those requirements were, but to know there are other free resources that make it less expensive to do fire inspections and other things were what we were looking for.”

To start the adoption and foster care process, military families are required to attend informational meetings, which are held three times a month and fill out an application.

If they pass a background check, the families attend training at the CPS office, located at 3635 Southeast Military Dr. in San Antonio, that covers adopted or foster child issues the child may face such as child attachment, trauma, loss and separation, discipline, and abuse and neglect.

Hope Shelton, CPS faith-based specialist for South Texas, estimated that “motivated and serious” families can adopt or foster children within three to four weeks of the process.

“We want to make sure they have the tools to help children heal,” she said. “We also want to make sure the families are safe, and parents are prepared to take them in.”

To be eligible to adopt or foster children, service members must be 21 and over and can be single, married or divorced. Foster families are required to be first aid and CPR certified

“They also have to be patient, stable, mature and be able to meet their own needs,” Shelton explained. “There is not a certain amount of money they have to make to become adoptive or foster care parents, but they can’t become parents for monetary purposes. They have to meet their own needs without CPS’ help.”

Military families can encounter barriers some during the adoption and foster process and Shelton urges potential adoptive or foster parents to learn as much as possible about the process ahead of time to avoid undue stress.

Eligible members must be stationed in the San Antonio area for a minimum of two years due to the length of time it might take to become certified parents and find a child to place in their home.

“We don’t want families to be stationed here just six months for example,” Shelton said. “That is not enough time. Another barrier specifically for foster families is having a support system because they’re going to need a break at some point and need someone to help them. If they’re new to their area, then they might not have a network of friends and family around. We want to make sure the military families who adopt or become foster parents have some support in case they need a break.”

Only adopted children are eligible for TRICARE benefits until the age of 21, or 23 if enrolled in college, and foster children receive state-funded insurance benefits. If a child has a severe disability, they may receive coverage beyond normal age limits and a child’s health plan depends on the sponsor’s military status and their residence.

In San Antonio, there are thousands of children in need of foster and adoptive parents and Shelton encourages military members to learn more about these options and not assume they will not qualify.

For further adoption and foster care information, call 337-3117 or visit https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/child_protection.