E. Placement with Relatives or Designated Caregiver

1. Before the Adversary Hearing

DFPS must:

•   Evaluate each person listed on the Child Placement Resources Form to determine who would be most the appropriate substitute caregiver;

•   Complete a home study of the most appropriate caregiver, Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(a); and

•   Conduct background and criminal history checks of the relatives or other designated individuals identified as potential relatives or designated caregivers on the Child Placement Resources Form. Please see the CPS Policy Handbook § 6610.[10]

DFPS may place the child with the relative or designated caregiver identified on the proposed placement form if DFPS determines that the placement is in the best interest of the child. DFPS must complete the background and criminal history check and conduct a preliminary evaluation of the relative or other designated caregiver's home before the child is placed with the relative or other designated caregiver. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(b).

Not later than 48 hours after the time that the child is placed with the relative or other designated caregiver, DFPS shall begin the home study of the relative or other designated caregiver. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(b). DFPS shall complete the home study as soon as possible unless otherwise ordered by a court. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(b).

DFPS must provide an informational manual required by Tex. Fam. Code § 261.3071 to the relative or other designated caregiver at the time of the child's placement. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(b).

2. At the Adversary Hearing

DFPS must, after redacting any social security numbers, file with the court:

•   A copy of each proposed Child Placement Resources Form;

•   A copy of any completed home study; and

•   The name of the relative or other designated caregiver, if any, with whom the child has been placed. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(a-1).

The court shall inquire from all parties whether the child has had the opportunity to provide information regarding potential caregivers and whether individuals identified by the child are listed on the proposed Child Placement Resources Form. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(l-1).

If the child has been placed with a relative or designated caregiver, the court shall inform the individual serving as a placement for the child of the ability to become a licensed foster parent and apply for a Permanent Care Assistance program under Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 264, Subchapter K. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(n-1).

Special Issue: The Permanency Care Assistance (PCA) program gives financial support to kinship caregivers who want to provide a permanent home to children in the temporary or permanent managing conservatorship of DFPS who cannot be reunited with their parents or adopted. Monthly payments are $400 to $545 per month, depending upon the needs of each child. To qualify for PCA, kinship caregivers must apply to become foster parents, care for the child as foster parents for at least six months, negotiate and sign a PCA Agreement before a court grants them managing conservatorship of the child, and obtain an order from a court naming them the managing conservator of the child after the PCA Agreement has been signed. Please see the Bench Book Chapter on Permanency Care Assistance for more information.

If the child has NOT been placed by the time of the full Adversary Hearing, DFPS shall file with the court:

•   A statement that explains the reasons why DFPS has not placed the child with a relative or other designated caregiver listed on the proposed Child Placement Resources Form; and

•   The actions DFPS is taking, if any. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(a-2).

Special Issue: Courts must make a finding at the Adversary Hearing as to whether DFPS is able to place the child with a relative or other designated caregiver and state the evidence that supports its finding either way. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.0022.

DFPS may file with the court the temporary visitation schedule developed pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code § 262.115(d). The court may render any necessary order regarding the temporary visitation schedule. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.115(e).

3. Modifying Child Support

Tex. Fam. Code § 154.001 requires the court to notify the Office of the Attorney General within 10 days if a court presiding over a SAPCR involving DFPS orders child support payments or modifies child support payments that requires the payments be made to DFPS.

Tex. Fam. Code § 234.007(a) requires all parties who pay child support under temporary or final orders to pay child support through the state disbursement unit, including child support employers who are court-ordered to withhold from the obligor's income.

4. Further Consideration of Former Foster Parent

DFPS must consider placing a child who has previously been in the managing conservatorship of DFPS with a foster parent with whom the child previously resided if DFPS determines that placement of the child with a relative or designated caregiver is not in the child's best interest and the placement is available and in the child's best interest. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(c).