We will be your first point of contact for most needs. Every foster family licensed through us is matched with a Licensing Specialist. This individual will complete your home study and provide ongoing encouragement and support throughout each placement. Our staff’s specialty is helping you navigate the system of care, whether that’s advocating for the foster child in your home to receive the services they need, or helping you understand a foster child’s behaviors that are rooted in the trauma that they had previously experienced. Although our staff prays with and spiritually supports each of our families, we rely heavily on the local body of Christ as the primary source of spiritual and family support for things like delivering meals, discipleship, babysitting for date nights, and the donations of diapers or clothes.
You must have enough bedroom space for a foster child. A foster child may share a bedroom with your child/another foster child of the same gender. Foster children must have a bed of their own and cannot share a bed or sleep on a cot or trundle bed. A foster child may not share a bedroom with any adult, with the exception of infants, age 12 months or younger. Also, an adult cannot move out of their bedroom and sleep on the couch to make room for the child.
It is important that children live in a safe and clean environment. During the home study process, you will be asked to have a Health Inspection done in your home. Your residence must be free of potential danger and risks. You must have working smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, and if you have pets, all animals must be current with vaccinations and not present a danger to children in your home. Our staff conducts the Health Inspection so they will walk you through it during the home study.
Being a parent can be demanding. You must be healthy and emotionally stable to care for foster children. You may be asked to complete a physical or provide medical clearance as well as other supportive documentation to help establish the state of your physical and emotional health.
Thorough background screening is conducted on all prospective foster families, including Abuse Registry, local criminal and federal criminal (fingerprint) clearances. Child abuse clearances are required for all household members, including biological, adopted and relative children living in the home.
While you don’t have to be rich to be a foster parent, you must have adequate income to meet your own family’s needs. Foster parents are reimbursed for the substitute care they provide. The monthly Board Rate is not income. During the home study process, we will ask you to show proof of income and financial stability.
Foster parents can be single or married. However, if you are married, you must have been in your current marital status for at least 12 months to ensure stability in your relationship.
All prospective foster parents are required to attend a free approximately one-hour long orientation. If they choose to continue in the process they will then be registered to attend a free training class called Professional Parenting, which is usually provided over the course of several weeks on an evening or on several Saturdays. If you are married, both parents will need to attend and complete this training.
Because foster care is a temporary placement, most children that come into your home will not be eligible for adoption. In fact, 80% of children are reunified with their parents or transition to living with relatives. A foster parent is expected to work with the case manager assigned to the foster child along with that child’s birth parents, in the hopes that the family will be reunited. A foster parent must be objective and must be able to assist a child when it comes time for that child to leave the foster home. Sometimes, however, children are unable to return home. If parental rights are terminated, first relatives, then foster parents are given consideration for adoption.
As part of the home study process you will identify the age and sex of the child or children that would be most appropriate for your home. This is a conversation our staff will be having with you, all to ensure that the placement is stable and in the best interest for both your family and the foster child.
The short answer is yes! Florida Administrative code was amended on 3/6/2018 and now reads in part:
(a) Families shall take children in their care on family vacations and trips whenever possible.
Like many things in foster care there are several other considerations, both legally speaking and that pertain to each child’s case. We walk all of our families through these situations so if you have a specific question about travel please let us know.