Many Floridians use the slogan “Fostering success” when someone desires to become a foster parent in Florida. Therefore, the question to ask yourself is, Are you ready to “foster success”? Are you ready for a chance to help children be the best version of themselves they can be? To make a lasting difference in a child’s life, even though you may only know him or her a short while? Are you willing to give a child the chance to be an amazing member of the community? Do you live in Florida? If yes, then fostering in Florida might be the right path for you to take!
Here are the steps to becoming a foster parent in the State of Florida:
1. Look up your community-care based agency that is in your area. There are 18 community-care based agencies in Florida that can train foster parents. Some of those agencies based on geographical area include: For Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties, the community-care based agency is Families First Network and for Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties, the community-care based agency is Kids Central, Inc. Once you have found your community-care based agency for your county, you need to call to find out when their next orientation meeting will be and register to attend.
2. After the orientation meeting, you must complete 20-30 hours of foster parent training.
3. During this time you must also have a child abuse and criminal background check completed.
4. There will also be a home inspection to make sure your house is safe to bring a child into as well as a home study, which is a lengthy interview-type process that evaluates whether you are ready to foster.
Being a foster parent is a commendable life choice. Foster parents agree to put their own needs aside to foster children and mentor families who need someone to come alongside them. Florida is especially in need of foster families for sibling groups, teens, and children with special needs. In Florida, there is currently an initiative called #itCANbedone, which helps encourage and give strength to children in the foster care system and to those who have aged out of the foster care system. It allows these children to voice and share their success stories to show other kids in the same situation as them that they can still do great things despite the difficulties they may have with their family life. In many cases, foster parents are the reason it’s possible for these children to have success in life.
If you have made the amazing decision to begin the journey to becoming a foster parent, make sure to contact your community-care based agency—and thank you for being willing to step out of your comfort zone and make a difference in the life of a child.