Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book

2023 version: As effective November 1, 2023

B. What Should Courts Do?

The court must inform relative and designated caregivers serving as placement for a child of the ability to become a licensed foster parent and apply for PCA at the Adversary Hearing, Status Hearing, and Permanency Hearings Before and After a final order. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(n-1); Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(h)(2)(i); Tex. Fam. Code § 263.306(c)(2); and Tex. Fam. Code § 263.5031(3).

Before awarding PMC to a kinship caregiver under this program and dismissing DFPS from a case, the court should ensure that:

•   DFPS has determined that reunification and adoption are not appropriate permanency options for the child;

•   The caregiver is verified (being verified refers to the family being approved as a foster home under the minimum standards set by Licensing. HHSC licenses child placing agencies, and in turn, child placing agencies verify foster homes);

•   The child has been placed with the verified kin for at least six months following the date of the verification; and

•   DFPS and the kinship caregiver have signed a PCA Agreement, and it is on file prior to the award of PMC to the caregiver; that is, the child must be in the TMC or PMC of DFPS on the day before PMC is transferred to the relative.

The one-year deadline to dismiss a case still applies. For example, if the 12-month deadline is approaching, and a child has not lived with their verified caregiver for at least six months after the verification, the case must be extended under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.401 or PMC must be awarded to DFPS in order to allow sufficient time to satisfy the 6-month verified foster care requirement prior to the relative being awarded PMC.

If a sibling is placed by DFPS in the home of a child who is already the subject of a PCA agreement, the sibling is automatically eligible for PCA benefits. If the caregiver and DFPS agree on the appropriateness of the arrangement and, if DFPS has TMC or PMC of the joining sibling at the time the agreement is signed, the family must enter into a PCA agreement for the sibling before the court awards PMC of the sibling to the kin/caregiver and dismisses DFPS from the case.

A caregiver receiving PCA is not eligible for the Relative and Other Designated Caregiver Program. Relatives who do not meet the eligibility criteria under the PCA program can continue to take advantage of the Relative and Other Designated Caregiver Program.

The maximum monthly amount of assistance payments under a PCA agreement may not exceed the amount of the monthly foster care maintenance payment DFPS would pay to a foster care provider caring for the child for whom the kinship caregiver is providing care. Tex. Fam. Code § 264.854.

Before entering a final order that awards permanent custody of a child in DFPS conservatorship to a relative, the court must verify that the relative was offered the opportunity to become a licensed foster placement to qualify for a PCA agreement and that the relative declined and the child placing agency has been notified of the declination. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.409.