December 13, 2018 600 AM
FAR WEST TEXAS – West Texas is in need of foster families. Judge Roy Ferguson of the 394th State Judicial District Court published two Facebook posts recently encouraging residents to offer their time and love by becoming a foster parent.
“For years, we have had essentially no foster families in our communities,” Ferguson writes.
He told the Presidio International that he cannot recall having a foster family option during his six years on the bench. When children are removed from a situation, they are typically placed with another family member., but they need more alternatives when that is not possible.
He said that the lack of foster families in the area result in children being taken away from their home, their community, their school and their friends to live in foster homes in El Paso, San Angelo, and sometimes as far as San Antonio. These placements can last from one night or one week or 18 months.
“The goal is normalcy for the child and we want to minimize trauma on the child we’re trying to protect,” said Ferguson.
According to data provided by Angelica Simpson, Foster/Adopt Recruiter for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there have been 355 children in foster care during this fiscal year in Region 10, which includes counties in Ferguson’s district – Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis and Presidio. It also includes El Paso County which accounts for 350 of those children. Far West Texas has had as many as 13 children in foster care within the last two years.
Since he became judge, Ferguson has tried to improve the outcomes for these children. He realized from attending Texas Children’s Commission’s Child Welfare Summits that improvements can happen in many small aspects. His first step is to keep children in their communities.
According to DFPS’ Texas Adoption Resource Exchange website, those interested in foster care must be at least 21 years old, financially stable, a responsible mature adult and may be single or married. In addition to an application, there is an extensive background check and home study as well as a 35-hour training program called Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE) that is taught by an agency staff member and a foster/adoptive parent.
The judge stressed that it is rewarding to become a foster parent whether it’s people who hope to have children or empty nesters or grandparents or people who wants to help.
“It’s so rewarding to take children during their toughest time of their lives and give them a loving, safe environment while we’re going through the process,” said Ferguson.
Marfa resident Maria Elena Machuca expressed the same sentiment when she recalled her time as a foster parent in the 1990s. She thought it would be nice and a good idea to become a foster parent when she heard about the program.
While rewarding, it was also difficult. “It’s a lot of patience. You have to be patient,” said Machuca.
She usually watched as many as two or four children at a time, in addition to raising her four children. She said you have to have a strong heart because there were times when she would get close to the children and they would eventually leave. Some of the children were adopted.
“You do the best that you can and try to have a loving home and make the best for them,” said Machuca.
Machuca’s life situation changed though. Being a single mom and working two jobs made it impossible for her to continue to provide foster care. Now that her children are adults, Machuca sees how this time in their lives helped them become better parents.
“They knew and they loved those kids,” said Machuca. “They saw the situations of other families. I’m hoping they did, so if they had kids or got married, they knew there was help. They knew they could get help or help somebody.”
In the last six weeks, two people from Brewster County submitted their names and qualified to become foster parents. Ferguson has submitted two additional names from Presidio County of those willing to foster a child. One reached out in response to his Facebook post, but Ferguson wants to recruit more.
“We need people to fill all those gaps,” said Ferguson. “We need people in the city of Presidio, in south Brewster County, in Terlingua and Van Horn.”
Here the state’s foster parent website: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/application/tare/home.aspx/default.
For those interested in becoming a foster parent, please contact Simpson at (915) 521-3970 or (915) 538-9725.