Child and Family Services: Help When You Need It
By GetParentingTips.com Staff
Read Time: 9 Minutes
All parents need help with their children sometimes. Maybe you ask friends or family to pick up the kids from school or for ideas about what to do on the weekend. But there are also times when parents need help with big, important life issues, such as helping a child who's struggling with learning to read or one who is acting out at school. When it comes to social services for children, it can be hard to know where to start.
Child and Family Services in Texas
Luckily, you don't have to figure it out on your own. Here in Texas, the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) focuses on giving parents the tools and “know-how" they need to succeed. These child and family services are offered free of charge through local nonprofits, governments, and schools. You'll find all kinds of helpful child services and programs that promote safe and healthy families and support children and youth. The range of social services for children is different for every county and community, but you might be able to get help with things such as:
- Advice about calming a fussy baby.
- Help preparing your child for kindergarten.
- Play groups that give kids and parents a chance to build community.
- Counseling to improve family communication skills.
- Academic support services for struggling students.
- Help managing a child's behavior problems.
- Parenting classes to help dads and kids connect.
Find Child Social Services Near You
For parents looking for “child services near me," there is an online child and family services locator that lists the PEI programs available in different counties across Texas.
The best way to get help that's personalized for you and learn about the latest child and family services being offered in your area is to call, chat, or text the Texas Parent Helpline team. They can brainstorm solutions, talk about options, and if needed, connect you with child services resources in your area. The helpline is available 24/7, and conversations are confidential.
Programs for Parents with Young Children
Many of the child and social services are designed to help parents with babies and young children. Below are two child and family services programs that can help you and your family succeed.
These child and family services are provided at no cost to the family. Because the program is offered by local community partners eligibility and programming varies by county. Find out if there are parenting programs in your community.
Texas Home Visiting
Texas Home Visiting is for parents, expectant parents, and caregivers with children under age 6. This child services program pairs parents with trained nurses, social workers, and child development specialists. These experts answer questions, offer advice, provide support, and teach parents how to prepare their kids for kindergarten. During the visits, parents and home visitors might talk about things like how to get ready for a new baby, how to use play as a teaching tool, or how to calm a fussy baby. The program is free and focuses on positive child health and development. Texas Home Visiting helps families to be more self-sufficient and build a more stable home for the entire family.
How Texas Home Visiting Taught a Mom Self-Care
Cara, a mom in the Texas Home Visiting program, was suffering from severe depression. Cara's home visitor understood what she was going through and provided her with things she could do for self-care. She also checked in on her multiple times per week. Cara words of thanks sum up the positive difference Texas Home Visiting made to her and her family.
“I don't think I've told you enough how much I appreciate you. I'm so happy that I signed up for this program and that it put you in our path," says Cara. “My kids have benefitted so much from this program, and me too!! I've gotten closer with them, and it's helped me evolve into a better parent and teacher. You're a great home visitor. I appreciate you so much! I just wanted to let you know that you've made a difference in my life and my kids' lives."
Texas Nurse Family Partnership
Texas Nurse Family Partnership is a program that matches nurses with first-time moms. The nurses help with prenatal care and provide one-on-one child development education and counseling. Moms begin the program by their 28th week of pregnancy and continue to receive support until their child is 2 years old. To qualify for this child and family service, families must live in the specified service delivery area county or combined service area.
How Texas Nurse Family Partnership Helped Dani Achieve Her Goals
Dani, a 19-year-old mom, was part of the Nurse Family Partnership program. While in the program and caring for her baby, Dani worked hard to become a certified medical assistant. Dani faced big challenges, including partner violence that forced her to take difficult steps to keep her baby safe. Yet, with the help of the Nurse Family Partnership program, Dani achieved her goal of becoming a certified medical assistant while caring for her baby during her baby's critical first year.
Healthy Outcomes through Prevention & Early Support (HOPES)
Healthy Outcomes through Prevention & Early Support (HOPES) helps families with children 0–5 years old. Their support can include home visiting services, parent support groups, reading assistance, and screening for maternal depression. To qualify for this child and family service, families must live in specific service areas.
How a HOPES Program Helped Martin as a New Stepfather
The SAFE Alliance's parent support program gave Martin the tools he needed to raise his two stepchildren. As a child, Martin was physically punished and taught to believe that he was “just a bad kid." SAFE helped Martin break the cycle of using physical punishment as a form of discipline. Martin discovered that he was not “just a bad kid" and that he could be a great stepfather.
Support Services for Youth
There are lots of child social services available in Texas for children of all ages. Programs can include mentoring, youth leadership development, and community programs such as a youth advisory council. Children may be eligible to take part in classes with a youth-based curriculum as well as recreational services, academic support services, and life skills classes. These services can make a positive difference by giving kids the tools and support they need to succeed. Local community partners provide these social services for children. Availability and eligibility vary by county.
These child and family services are provided at no cost to the family. Because the program is offered by local community partners eligibility and programming varies by county. Find out if there are child and family services in your community.
Family and Youth Success (FAYS)
The Family and Youth Success (FAYS) program helps families deal with everyday struggles. This program offers coaching, counseling, and group-based learning for kids and their parents. Local FAYS programs help young people learn how to overcome lots of different challenges, from bullying and not wanting to go to school to dealing with grief or divorce.
At-risk youth and their families may be eligible to receive:
- Crisis intervention counseling.
- Short-term counseling.
- Community-based peer support counseling.
- Youth and adult counseling.
- Resolution counseling.
Taking part in this program can help families develop better communication skills and build stronger relationships. The program promotes positive behavior change and builds confidence for both youth and parents.
How FAYS Brought a Struggling Family Together
The Rogers family faced many struggles raising two teenage granddaughters. The family conflict got worse after the grandfather passed away and the grandmother's mental and physical health began to decline. Parenting Wisely, a parenting program offered through FAYS, helped the family develop stronger communication skills and empathy for one another.
Statewide Youth Services Network (SYSN)
The Statewide Youth Services Network (SYSN) is a statewide network of youth programs that promote positive youth development. The program focuses on mentoring youth and providing them with skills to help them become more confident. Many programs provide one-on-one mentoring to help build stronger bonds between youth and their mentors. The network is supported by Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Texas Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs.
How SYSN Helped Lucas Find His Confidence
When Lucas's father left and started a new family, Big Brothers Big Sisters was a huge support for both Lucas and his mom. Lucas's Big Brother helped him deal with the emotions caused by no longer having his father living at home. The steady relationship with his Big Brother helped Lucas become more confident and more engaged with his friends.
Community Youth Development (CYD)
The Community Youth Development program serves youth ages 6 to 17 who live in and/or attend school in one of 15 targeted ZIP codes. CYD provides youth leadership development, which includes:
- Academic support services.
- Life skills and career development.
- Character education.
- Conflict resolution.
- Rites of passage programs.
- Youth sports and recreational services.
- Programs that promote family support and involvement.
How CYD Helped Youth Get Jobs (Children's Center - Galveston County)
The Children's Center's Odyssey LIFT Coffee Program gives youth in Galveston opportunities to learn skills that prepare them for adulthood. Youth in the LIFT program were invited to serve coffee at local events, including at their local library. The program recently partnered with the owner of a successful restaurant in the area to mentor participants on entrepreneurship. In 2023, youth presented a summary of the LIFT Coffee Cart business at a local Rotary Club meeting. They used the public speaking and leadership skills developed during the CYD Summer Work Experience program to clearly communicate the business design and recent successes to local community leaders. As a result, these youth got jobs in local restaurants.
How the CYD's Texas Youth Summit Helps Youth Discover Their Purpose
The Texas Youth Summit is an annual event where young leaders from CYD programs come together for an educational and empowering leadership skill-building conference. The Summit features speakers and workshops to help youth discover their strengths and leadership skills. It is also a chance for youth to share their community concerns and how to raise awareness of key issues in their communities.
Programs for Fathers
Fatherhood EFFECT (Educating Fathers for Empowering Children Tomorrow)
Fatherhood EFFECT is a parenting education program specifically designed to help dads and father figures become more actively involved with their kids.
The program helps build strong fathers, children, and families. In addition to classes, Fatherhood EFFECT also provides peer support and mentoring as well as resources. Fathers don't have to live with their children to participate. Because the program is offered through local community partners, availability, eligibility, and resources vary by county.
These child and family services are provided at no cost to the family. Because the program is offered by local community partners eligibility and programming varies by county. Find out if Fatherhood EFFECT is available in your community.
How the Fatherhood EFFECT Made a Dad a Leader
Jason joined his local 24/7 Dad program to help improve his relationships with his family. His demanding job had made it difficult for Jason to spend the quality time he needed with his wife and kids. The program helped Jason open up about his own childhood challenges and understand how they were affecting him as an adult. Jason learned to express his feelings and eventually became a leading voice in the Dads group.
Social Services for Military Families
Service Members, Veterans, and Families Program (SMVF)
Having a parent deployed in the military can be hard on children and their families. The Service Members, Veterans, and Families (SMVF) program provides support for families when a parent is serving or has served in the armed forces, reserves, or National Guard. Parents receive social services such as parenting classes, educational resources, counseling, and other support services. The program helps parents find ways to support their child's emotional, physical, and financial well-being. It also gives parents a place to build friendships and make connections to create a larger support system.
These child and family services are provided at no cost to the family. Because the program is offered by local community partners eligibility and programming varies by county. Find out if the SMVF program is available in your community.
SMVF Helps Military Families Build Support Systems
Grace joined her local SMFV program when she was pregnant and parenting two children. As an active-duty spouse, Grace was far away from her family and friends, and she was feeling overwhelmed by her husband's upcoming deployment. The program became a support system for Grace and helped her find a community of other parents. Grace was even able to get childcare through the program so that her husband could be there when their new baby was born. The SMFV program provided Grace with parenting tips and a support system helping her to not feel so alone.
Ask for Help, Spread the Word
Getting through the hard times can feel overwhelming for parents, but it's okay to ask for help. We all need help sometimes! In addition to the free and low-cost child and family services offered through PEI, there are also articles, videos, and an online resource library that can help parents deal with a range of challenges that come with parenting. There are tips for parents of newborns to teenagers. If you find an article that helps you, don't be shy about sharing it with friends and family. They might need child and family services, too, and not know how to ask for help or where to turn.
For problems big or small, don't be afraid to reach out to the Texas Parent Helpline team! If you need someone to talk to, they're always ready to listen, suggest solutions, and direct you to the right local child services resources in your area. The calls are free and confidential, and it's the best way to find one-on-one recommendations for child services near you. Just by asking for help and looking for the right child and family services, you're taking the first step toward finding a solution that works for your family. You've got this!