Foster Care

TXICFW believes that every child in the foster care system has a right to a safe, supportive and stable home.  We also believe physical permanency and relational permanency or lifelong relationships with supportive adults are key to successfully creating the highest quality of life for foster youth. The needs of youth transitioning out of foster care are unique and can be numerous. TXICFW is dedicated to creating a system of support that mentors and advocates for the needs of transitioning foster youth. Learn more about our foster care projects:

Current Projects

Learning About Healthy Relationships

About the study Foster youth tend to interact with many people, but they have few genuine connections. Older youth are most likely to experience placement instability that impacts their ability to develop and maintain close relationships with family, caregivers, peers, and dating partners. Rules in foster care often prohibit romantic relationships, yet foster youth have… Read more »

7th Annual UT Child Welfare Conference

A person’s definition of belonging comes from their own experiences. Working in the Child Welfare field helps us to recognize that children and families in the foster care system are often caught between worlds and do not always feel included. As a child welfare practitioner, researcher, or advocate, it is essential that we learn more… Read more »

Texas Permanency Outcomes Project (TXPOP)

The Texas Permanency Outcomes Project (TXPOP) develops sustainable best practices utilized by child welfare agencies across Texas to connect children to their birth families, regardless of their permanency outcome. TXPOP is a project of the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies, in collaboration with the… Read more »

The Sue Fairbanks Psychoanalytic Academy

SFPA logo

The Sue Fairbanks Psychoanalytic Academy cultivates its study at the intersection of psychoanalysis and social work. The Academy is located within the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing at the University of Texas at Austin. Initially inspired by the Family Minds Project’s Lunch & Learn sessions, the Academy will be expanding its initial research… Read more »

Let Kids Be Kids: Normalcy to improve child wellbeing

kids be kids Logo_Nov2018

Normal experiences in childhood are critical to the wellbeing and social development of all children. Children in foster care are no different! This workshop provides information of the importance of normalcy and what caregivers can do to ensure their children are living as normal of a life as possible. Training Objectives Participants will learn how… Read more »

Reflective Parenting: Introduction to Mentalization

reflective parenting logo_Nov2018

This workshop provides an introduction to the concept of “Reflective Parenting” and how it is related to secure attachment and successful parenting via mentalization skills. Mentalization is the skill of being able to see yourself from the outside and your children from the inside, and is one essential component of successful parenting. Training Objectives: Participants… Read more »

Annual UT Child Welfare Conference

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A person’s definition of home and love comes from their own experiences. As professionals in the Child Welfare field, we recognize that when children enter the foster care system they are often caught between two worlds. As a child welfare practitioner, researcher or advocate, it is essential that we learn more about family experiences and… Read more »

SHINE: positive Sexual Health for youth IN out-of-home Environments

SHINE logo

Youth who have experienced adversity have higher rates of adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections compared to youth in general.  Those in out-of-home care may miss sexual health education in schools and often have not had reliable caregivers to provide them with accurate sexual health information. Compounding the issue, many of these youth have experienced… Read more »

Safe Babies Program Evaluation

Safe Babies Logo

The Safe Babies program is designed to improve outcomes for infants and toddlers in foster care by supporting their attachment needs at the most critical time in a child’s development.  First3Years, formerly Texas Association for Infant Mental Health (TAIMH), began in 1980 as a group of volunteers in the infant mental health field who were concerned about… Read more »

Texas Youth Permanency Study


The Texas Youth Permanency Study (TYPS) examines the long-term outcomes and opportunities of youth in the Texas Foster Care System. Specifically, the study seeks to understand the quality of relationships developed by youth in care and identify factors that help youth sustain strong and supportive relationships when they exit out of foster care. Relational permanency… Read more »

Coaching Young Parents in Care

coaching young parents logo_Nov2018

This workshop helps foster parents coach young parents so they can realize their full potential as adolescents, young adults and parents. In this workshop we will explore three core ideas: understanding the context of young parents in foster care through the lenses of child development, trauma, grief and loss, understanding ourselves and how our unique… Read more »

Spark Program


Visit the Spark Website by clicking here! The University of Texas Spark Program wants to empower former foster youth by providing necessary support systems to attend the university! Spark serves as a resource to help students build meaningful personal and professional relationships that are important to success. Spark is a new program located at the… Read more »

Completed Projects

Adkins, T., Reisz, S., Doerge, K., & Nulu, S. (2020). Adverse Childhood Experience histories in foster parents:Connections to foster children’s emotional and behavioral difficulties. Child Abuse & Neglect, 104.

Adkins, T., Reisze, S., Doerge, K., & Nulu, S. (2020). Adverse Childhood Experience histories in foster parents:Connections to foster children’s emotional and behavioral difficulties. Child Abuse & Neglect, 104.

Sexual Health of Foster Youth: Needs Assessment Findings Final Report

Square version of SHINE report cover

November 2019 Over the past decade, academic research has documented disproportionately high rates of pregnancy among current and former foster youth. It is estimated that females who experience foster care are two to three times more likely to become teen mothers.[1] In Texas, female foster youth are almost five times more likely to become pregnant… Read more »

Supervising from a Trauma-Informed Perspective

Supervising from a trauma-informed perspective

This training will build capacity in supervisors in their role as a key component of a service system that uses a trauma-informed perspective. Participants will learn how to draw on their knowledge, experience and expertise of the child welfare environment and the impact of trauma on clients and staff to educate and support staff doing critical work with children who… Read more »

Why being reflective is so important for foster and adopted children.

Reflective parenting

Thanks to a generous grant from Sue Fairbanks, TXICFW will be conducting a Randomized Control Trial of “Family Minds” this year. Research Associate Tina Adkins developed the intervention as her Ph.D. thesis after years out in the field working with parents involved with the foster care system.  We sat down with Tina to learn more… Read more »

Structuring policies and practices to support educational resilience of foster youth


structuring-policies-and-practices-to-support-educational-resilience-of-foster-youth BY: Monica Faulkner, PhD, LMSW; Beth Gerlach PhD, LCSW; Catherine LaBrenz. Child and Family Research Institute, The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work Foster youth have poor educational outcomes compared to youth not in foster care due to frequent moves while in care and lack of caregiver stability. Drawing on resilience theory, this… Read more »

SB 44 Needs Assessment

Listening & Learning from the Community: Understanding the needs of families with children who have a serious behavioral or emotional disturbance Roughly 5% of children are classified as having a serious emotional disturbance. Children with a serious emotional disturbance may require extensive and costly medical, behavioral and educational supports. For many families, appropriate resources are… Read more »

Texas Trio Project

Principal Investigators: Dr. Monica Faulkner & Dr. Beth Gerlach Sponsor: Texas Education Agency (TEA) Purpose:  To conduct a process evaluation, data sharing recommendations, training and technical assistance and a survey of school district foster care liaisons.  The Texas Trio Project will develop a state plan and protocol for education and foster care collaborations as well… Read more »

How do we compare? Looking at foster care systems around the world.

By Joseph Barron As researchers and students at The Child and Family Research Institute, we make it a priority to understand the systems that lead to higher quality of life for foster youth who find themselves in a system that is often referred to as broken. In the spirit of  the approaching Independence Day and… Read more »

CFRI hosts First Annual Teen Conference with DFPS

By Shannon Mann-Butler & Kate McKerlie  On Saturday April 23rd, CFRI partnered with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to host the first annual Teen Conference at the University of Texas at Austin! This conference was open to any foster youth that was interested in learning more about college and what “Gone to… Read more »

CFRI Presents on Permanency and Resilience of Foster Youth at Upbring Conference

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to the Children’s Bureau this year’s theme is “Building Community, Building Hope.” The focus this year is to acknowledge the power of communities to address child abuse by intersecting research, policy and practice to promote family well-being and child protection from abuse and neglect. Here in Austin, Texas… Read more »

Attachment in foster children.

Adkins, T. (2016, February). Attachment in foster children.  Presentation at Lifeline Children and Family Services Annual Academy, Austin, TX.

RECAP of the 2015 Annual Child Welfare Conference “Competing Voices: Listening, Learning & Uniting for Permanency”

On November 9th the 2015 Child Welfare Conference was held at Thompson Conference Center on UT’s campus. We were excited to welcome more than 150 attendees interested in exploring issues related to permanency.  A wide range of nonprofit and government employees attended, including staff from American YouthWorks, Any Baby Can, Austin ISD, CASA, Cenpatico, Central… Read more »

Creating relational permanency.

Adkins, T. (2015, November). Creating relational permanency. Presentation at the Annual School of Social Work Child Welfare Conference by University of Texas, Austin, TX.

Using my journey in higher education to help others

By Adrian Gaspar At the University of Texas at Austin there over 51,000 students.  27 are former foster youth using their tuition waivers. I am one of them. My name is Adrian Gaspar, and I am a current Master’s student at UT Austin’s School of Social Work. Tied for 7th in the nation, let’s just say… Read more »

Every child needs a childhood

By Reyna Rutan, President of Youth Leadership Council for DFPS Region 7 I entered foster care when I was in 5th grade. Right away, I changed schools.  I met awesome kids and families and I began to feel more comfortable in my new environment.  I soon became friends with many of the kids in my grade and… Read more »

Helping make Christmas merry and bright for foster youth

Ashley Payne, Youth Specialist, Fostering Horns Program Jeni Brazeal, Program Coordinator, Healthy Youth Partnership The Christmas lights go up, the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees are all around, stockings are hung so Santa can fill them and cookies are made.  December signals festivities, family and fun for most children.  However, foster youth experience the… Read more »

Permanency Conversations with Children

Permanency Conversations with children

This training was developed to increase knowledge & skills that enable caseworkers to have developmentally-appropriate conversations with children about permanency, with the goal of enhancing children’s sense of well-being & safety.   TXICFW developed this training in 2014 for The Texas Department of Family & Protective Services.

Visitation Matters

visitation matters

This curriculum is designed to support those providing direct serves to children in placement due to abuse and neglect.  It can successfully support the development of those supervising parent/child visits, private and public foster care development workers, private and public child welfare case managers and caseworker.  This training may also be helpful in educating those supporting a… Read more »

Texas foster care redesign: Initial insights into foster care reform.

Schwab, J., Faulkner, M., Landuyt, M., Fong, R., Scott, J., Gerlach, B. & Ryan, T. (2014). Texas foster care redesign: Initial insights into foster care reform.  Texas Department of Family and Protective Services & Casey Family Programs.  Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin, Child and Family Research Institute.

Teen Pregnancy Among Foster Youth.

Faulkner, M., (2011, January). Teen Pregnancy Among Foster Youth. Paper presentation at the Society for Social Work Research Annual Meeting, Tampa, FL.

Berger Cardoso, J., Dettlaff, A., Finno-Velasquez, M., Scott, J. & Faulkner, M. (2014). Citizenship and immigration status among Latinos involved in the child welfare system: Characteristics, risk and maltreatment. Child and Youth Services Review, 44, 189-200.

Berger Cardoso, J., Dettlaff, A., Finno-Velasquez, M., Scott, J. & Faulkner, M. (2014).   Citizenship and immigration status among Latinos involved in the child welfare system: Characteristics, risk and maltreatment. Child and Youth Services Review, 44, 189-200.