No Smoking for Texas Foster Parents

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Texas has joined states such as Vermont and Washington in prohibiting foster parents from smoking in their homes if they have foster children living there. The new rule is part of a long list of newly adopted standards that licensed foster parents must adhere to, as part of the state’s first major overhaul of child care standards in two decades.

Foster parents are not be permitted to smoke inside their homes, regardless of whether children are present at the time, nor can they smoke inside their cars when a child is present, according to the rules adopted by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

“The department is the legal parent of these children, and as the parent, we choose not to subject them to secondhand smoke,” said Darrell Azar, communications manager for the department.

While health rules, such as the smoking ban, immediately apply to all foster parents, other changes, such as increasing the required height of fences around pool areas, will affect only newly licensed foster parents.

Azar said licensing offices will offer technical assistance with the new requirements during the first six months of this year to help foster parents make adjustments.

­—Alexis Vaughan