Foster and adoption agency ‘A World for Children’ opens new office in Burleson, seeks foster families
“Fostering and adopting a child is a beautiful thing,” Patti Rooks, regional director for A World for Children, said. “I’m just so glad we are here in Burleson now.”
A World for Children first opened its doors in 1997 and was cofounded by Dr. Paul R. Willis. The first office was opened in Round Rock but the agency added 12 more offices spread across the state. Burleson is the location of the newest office.
As of December 2017, there were 29,611 children living in foster care in Texas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 report, 26.2 percent of the population in Texas are children under the age of 18.
In 2017 there were 157 children removed from their homes in Johnson County, according to Rooks. Currently, there are 191 children in foster care in Johnson County and only 21 are in foster homes in the county. All others had to be placed in homes in other counties because of a lack of homes in Johnson County, Rooks said.
“There is a huge need for foster families,” Rooks said. “Especially for foster parents willing to take older kids. Every day, I have these kids come across my screen and we have to say, ‘Sorry, we don’t have any homes for teenagers.’ So these kids are going to shelters and it kills me.”
According to the Texas Education Agency, almost 16,000 youth are homeless. This number has surged 33 percent since the 2012-2013 school year.
“A lot of people want babies,” Rooks said. “The older kids get, the harder it is to find a home for them.”
Additionally, Rooks said that placing children with physical and learning disabilities or children with mental health issues are harder to place.
“Some of these kids have been in the system so long they are hard to place because they’ve had a rough experience growing up,” Rooks said.
Rooks and her husband started fostering in 2000. It all started with one little boy.
“We were a group home, so we could take up to 12 kids,” Rooks said. “We kept fostering and we took the really hard to place kids. That’s the kind of kids we took, the ones that couldn’t find homes.”
After all was said and done, the Rooks adopted 18 children. They adopted several special needs children, including a daughter who is blind and hearing impaired and another daughter with Aspergers Syndrome.
“Or course, race also has something to do with it,” Rooks said. “Our son came to us when he was 15 and he was considered un-adoptable because he was an African American teen boy. We adopted him at 18.”
Rooks has also adopted several adults, including their daughter with Aspergers Syndrome. The Rooks had already adopted two of her siblings and when they found out the woman was living in Colorado by herself, they invited her to move to Burleson to be with the family.
Rooks said that Burleson is the perfect location for the newest AWFC office because people who live in more rural areas are often the first people to open their homes to foster children.
“We already have several families in the area, but I’d be happy if I could get 20 more families this year,” Rooks said.
If you would like to become a foster parent, visit awfc.org. Interested families can attend an orientation that will introduce them to foster care and what to expect.
“Fostering isn’t for everyone, but for those who chose to do it, it’s very rewarding,” Rooks said.